Explora Journeys, the luxury lifestyle brand of the MSC Group, has unveiled the inaugural itineraries of its second ship, Explora II, launching in summer 2024.
The new unique set of journeys and new destinations will allow guests to explore renowned and off-the-beaten-path locations in the Mediterranean, the Middle East, India, the Indian Ocean and Africa marking the first time the luxury lifestyle brand will sail in these regions.
Featuring 25 journeys and 14 extended journeys between August 2024 and the end of April 2025, the itineraries will include 82 unique ports across 26 countries. At each stop, guests will have opportunities to discover the local nature and culture through exclusive activities, whilst exploring exotic ‘bucket list’ destinations and delving into the locations through sustainable and tailored experiences. All journeys are designed for the discerning traveller who wants to stay longer, leave later and travel deeper.
The brand provides guests with a slower pace of travel, unconventional arrival and departure times and the opportunity to spend more time in each destination with overnight stays while in port to ensure they feel fully exhilarated and immersed in the local culture and environment.
Explora II will first traverse the Mediterranean reaching ports in Italy, Spain, Greece, Cyprus, Israel and Croatia, where guests will immerse themselves in the ancient history of each country, enjoy their traditional and signature culinary flavours, and soak up the surrounding art, colours and architecture.
An incredible array of activities awaits Explora II’s guests who will be able to visit some of the most beautiful cities and islands in the Mediterranean such as the eternal city of Rome, Sicily, and Menorca – the gastronomy capital of 2022 – to then reach the Eastern Mediterranean with the islands of Mykonos, Santorini, Kalamata and Corfu, lands of mythical gods, architecture, food and ancient culture.
After exploring the magnificence of Israel, Explora II will pass through the Suez Canal and allow its guests to enjoy the beauties of Egypt, the pharaohs’ land, with its heritage, time-honoured traditions, immense deserts and vibrant oases. The ship will then sail onto the Arabian Peninsula towards Saudi Arabia, cruising the coastline of the Red Sea and visiting the world-heritage sights of Al Ula and Hegra. Explora II then sails to the Arabian Gulf to visit the innovative, new and vibrant cities such as Doha, Dubai and Abu Dhabi, known for their tall skyscrapers contrasting old palaces and beautiful mosques.
Explora II will then reach the coast of India where guests can explore everything from the steamy evergreen forests of the Western Ghats, a primordial lost world of thundering waterfalls and emerald tea plantations, that climb from the beaches of Goa to the Keralan hinterland beyond Kochi, and on to the insatiable energy of Mumbai. In this land, tradition and modernity unite in a wide range of colours and the natural and man-made environments coexist in harmony to inspire imagination.
The voyage of discovery will continue to the islands of the Indian Ocean including Seychelles and Maldives to then reach the natural sanctuaries of Africa with stops in Mozambique, Tanzania, Madagascar, Kenya, Mauritius and South Africa. Relaxing white sand beaches and crystal waters will give way to the Serengeti savannah where guests will be able to experience eco-tented safaris with elephants and leopards. While sailing the southern equatorial current guests can soak up the sounds of nature, experience wow-factor wildlife, and enjoy local crafts markets or a tribal immersion that will satisfy even the most demanding travelers’ expectations.
During each stop, guests are invited to ‘linger longer’ and delve into some of the oldest cultures. A combination of old and modern cities, wild flora and fauna, music, festivals, crystal-clear water, desert experiences and UNESCO sites, all accompanied by incredible cuisines featuring old classics, spices, herbs, teas and recipes passed down through generations.
As with Explora I, Explora II’s guests will reside in carefully curated ‘Homes at Sea’ designed to stimulate the senses and enhance the connection with the ocean. Featuring elegant Swiss precision, modern European craftsmanship and vibrant design, the suites are spacious, serene and luxurious homes-away-from-home for discerning travelers.
The culinary offering onboard Explora II will comprise twelve bars and lounges as well as six restaurants for an exclusive choice of food and drinks. Curated by Chef Franck Garanger, Head of Culinary at Explora Journeys, guests will be spoilt for choice with incredible and original menus featuring local and fresh ingredients taking inspiration from the destinations visited. The outlets will offer varied and healthy options to allow every guest to embark on a gastronomic journey whilst on the ship.
Committed to its pledge to the environment, Explora Journeys will continue to utilise the latest in environmental-supporting technologies. Comparably to the first ship of the fleet, Explora II features the latest selective catalytic reduction technology, enables a 90% reduction in nitrogen emissions, is RINA DOLPHIN certified and has been built with ship-to-shore power capabilities to avoid CO2 emissions while at berth.
Explora Journeys is constantly innovating and adapting to alternative energy solutions as they become available. Aiming to achieve net-zero greenhouse gas emissions by 2050, the brand recently announced that Explora III and Explora IV will feature LNG engines, whilst Explora V and Explora VI will feature not only an LNG engine but will be hydrogen-powered with industry-first features. The ships will have new generation technologies on board and tackle the methane slip issue effectively, including a containment system for liquid hydrogen that will enable them to use promising low-carbon fuel. The hydrogen fuel will power a six-megawatt fuel cell to produce emissions-free power for the hotel operation and allow the vessels for zero emissions operations while in port.