Inaugural season itineraries announced for MSC Group's Explora Journeys second ship EXPLORA 2

   December 7, 2022 ,   Cruise Industry

MSC Group’s new/luxury cruise brand Explora Journeys (sister-brand to MSC Cruises) announced the inaugural itineraries for its second boat - Explora II.

Speaking at the 21st International Luxury Travel Market, held this week in Cannes (France Riviera), Michael Ungerer (company's CEO) said that, like the sistership Explora I (which enters service in 2023), Explora 2 would offer passengers "the ability to string together a series of itineraries to create extended journeys without backtracking to the same embarkation port."

Between August 2024 and April 2025, Explora 1 is scheduled to visit 82 ports (26 counties), starting in Barcelona (Spain) before heading through the Mediterranean, visiting Israel and Egypt, then transiting the Suez Canal to the Red Sea, Arabian Gulf, India, and sailing down the coast of East and South Africa.

Ungerer said the goal was not to simply steal a share in the crowded luxury cruise market but to attract passengers from the larger luxury travel space.

He cited research from McKinsey showing that luxury cruising had an addressable market of 800,000 passengers valued at US$6.7 billion, while the TAM for luxury vacation travelers was 29 million consumers who spend US$230 billion annually.

~50% of bookings so far feature multiple cruises and Explora is drawing a higher-than-expected percentage of passengers under age 50, both signs that the plan was working.

For training, Explora Journeys has partnered with the leading hospitality management university Ecole Hoteliere de Lausanne. It is also recruiting staff/executives from luxury hotels and cruising.

Accommodations aboard the 461-stateroom all-suite ships - 6 are planned as part of an overall US$3.5 billion investment - start at 377 ft2, which the CEO said would be the largest in the market.

On each of the first 2 ships, there will be 18 food & beverage outlets, 12 bars & lounges with 7 different music venues, and 3 pools, along with 64 cabanas. There is also an outdoor gym. Venues are intimate with many cozy spaces and there are “no big restaurants”.

MSC Explora 2 cruise ship

Fares for the inaugural season of Explora 1 average US$650 per person, per day, about twice what MSC Cruises charges for the MSC Yacht Club, the company's VIP section within the mega-ships. However, fares for both Explora ships are going up, the 3rd price increase so far.