MSC Explora 3
Former name: Exploria III
Specifications of MSC Explora 3
|Year of build||2026 new ship|
|Builder||Fincantieri (Monfalcone, Italy)|
|Building cost||EUR 615 million (USD 730 million)|
|Speed||18 kn / 33 km/h / 21 mph|
|Length (LOA)||248 m / 814 ft|
|Beam (width)||32 m / 105 ft|
|Gross Tonnage||64000 gt|
|Passengers||922 - 1473|
|Decks with cabins||5|
|Sister-ships||MSC Explora 1, MSC Explora 2, MSC Explora 4, MSC Explora 5, MSC Explora 6|
|Former names||Exploria III|
|Owner||Mediterranean Shipping Company (MSC Group) via MSC Crociere SpA|
|Operator||MSC Cruises (via MSC Explora Journeys)|
MSC Explora 3 Review
Review of MSC Explora 3
The 2026-built MSC Explora 3 cruise ship ("Explora III", currently on order) is the third in a series of six MSC EXPLORA-class expedition ships, with sisters Explora 1 (2023), Explora 2 (2024) and Explora 4 (2027/sistership), Explora 5 (2027), and Explora 6 (2028). These boats are owned by MSC Group and operated as a separate fleet under the company's new luxury brand MSC EXPLORA JOURNEYS.
The vessel (IMO number 9869899) will be Malta-flagged (MMSI tba) and registered in Valletta. The delivery is currently planned for October 2025.
History - construction and ownership
MSC Cruises (MSC Crociere) is a passenger shipping company headquartered in Genoa and Naples. Established in 1960, MSC Crociere is a subsidiary of MSC (Mediterranean Shipping Company) - the world's second-largest containership company. MSC is also the world's largest privately-owned cruise company. By annual passenger shipping volumes, MSC is ranked the world's 4th largest cruise shipowner (after Carnival Corporation, RCG-Royal Caribbean, NCLH-Norwegian), with over 6% global market share.
MSC EXPLORA JOURNEYS brand's main competitor on the European market is Viking OCEAN Cruises.
MSC's EXPLORA ships offer plenty of interior public spaces, 2500+ m2 (~27000 ft2) of exterior deck spaces, spacious Sundeck (with 64 private cabanas), 3x outdoor swimming pools (two aft, one forward), one midship swimming pool covered by a retractable glass roof (indoor pool with a 2-deck sunbathing area and a large LED screen for movies, Ultra-HD images and videos, real-time sea views), several Jacuzzies (indoor and outdoor spa pools/whirlpools, including 1x crew pool) and sundecks with poolside dining and lounging, 9x different dining options (restaurants and food bars) plus in-cabin dining (via 24-hour room service).
Explora III's ultra-modern wellness complex is sized 700+ m2 (7500+ ft2) and has an indoor-outdoor Spa (9x Treatment Rooms for massages, Thermal Suites, Beauty Salon) and Gym (sized 270+ m2 / 2900+ ft2, fitted with the latest fitness equipment) and with a separate Fitness Studio (for group classes and personal training sessions). A Running Track encircles the Sundeck's sunbathing area (Deck 12).
The passenger-to-crew ratio of 1,25 guarantees attentive services by a dedicated staff.
For more information on MSC's EXPLORA-class vessels see the ship's Wiki section.
Decks and cabins
All MSC Explora III staterooms (461 total) are all outside/balconied and in Suite categories. Each cabin is fitted with floor-ceiling windows that open to a step-out terrace. Standard cabins are sized 35-39 m2 / 375-420 ft2 (OCEAN TERRACE SUITE), with 28 m2 (300 ft2) indoor space and 7-11 m2 (75-120 ft2) balcony. The largest accommodation is the OWNER'S RESIDENCE (280 m2 / 2015 ft2), with indoor space 155 m2 (1670 ft2) and aft-facing wraparound balcony sized 125 m2 (1345 ft2).
Cabin types include Owner's Residence (1), Ocean Residences (22), Ocean Penthouses (67), and Ocean Suites (371). The ship has a total of 82 interconnecting cabins (Family Suites) designed for families and small-group travelers.
"MSC Yacht Club" 24-hour butler services are provided complimentary to all Ocean Residences and Ocean Penthouses. Butler services packing and unpacking, pressing and laundering assistance, room service, itinerary and land transportation planning, special event planning, reservations assistance (onboard and ashore).
The boat has 13 decks, of which 11 are passenger-accessible and 5 with cabins.
MSC Explora Journeys deals are inclusive of accommodation, shipboard food (dining at 9 venues plus room service), unlimited beverages (including fine wines, premium liquors, brand coffees and teas, soft drinks), complimentary cabin mini-bar drinks and snacks, access to the wellness facilities (Spa, Fitness, training programs), tips/onboard gratuities, free unlimited Wi-Fi (throughout), Welcome Aboard Gifts (flowers, mini chocolates, bottle of champagne), premium shuttle bus services (port to downtown), 24-hour concierge services, twice-daily housekeeping services (including evening turndown service), shoeshine service.
Shipboard facilities and amenities
All public facilities (restaurants, lounges, bars) are with floor-ceiling windows and unobstructed views. All sundecks are wind-protected (via a wraparound glass wall), furnished with premium patio furniture (3-seater sofas, padded loungers, double daybeds, deckchairs) and decorated with large living plants.
The onboard dining experience is all-inclusive and marked by flexible dining times and gourmet dishes prepared with sustainably and locally sourced ingredients.
The ship has a total of 18x food and beverage venues including 10x dining (6x restaurants, Chef`s Kitchen) and 12x bars and lounges (8x indoor + 4x outdoor). Wine selections are according to the current itinerary program/regions sailed, with a certified sommelier service for the boutique wine labels and wine pairing.
Next are listed the ship's restaurants.
- Anthology (midship on Deck 4/international cuisine)
- Sakura (aft-portside on Deck 5/Pan-Asian cuisine - Japanese, Thai, Vietnamese, Malaysian; Sake sommelier service; Asian beverages; modern Asian music)
- Marble & Co. Grill (midship on Deck 5/steakhouse with a wine cellar; personally sourced and sustainably farmed beef)
- Med Yacht Club (midship-portside on Deck 4/varied Mediterranean cuisine specialties from France, Spain, Italy, Greece; premium wines from regional vineyards; cocktails made with regional ingredients; fresh-squeezed juices)
- Emporium Marketplace (aft on Deck 11/all-day opened buffet restaurant with food themed on the visited destinations; has 18x cooking stations - sushi, seafood, daily rotisserie, homemade sandwiches, cooked-to-order pasta, fresh-baked pizzas & breads, charcuterie/cured meats station, fromagerie/cheese station, boulangerie/bakery; beverages station/soft drinks, brand teas & coffees, fresh juices, wines & champagne)
- Fil Rouge (traditional French cuisine and French-inspired international dishes; with a dessert cart/tableside service; wine selection)
- Chef's Kitchen & Private Dining Room (forward-starboard on Deck 11/capacity 12 seats; at a fee per person)
In-cabin dining is available 24 hours.
Next are listed the ship's lounges and bars.
- Lobby Bar (midship on Deck 4)
- Malt Whiskey Bar (forward-portside on Deck 11/has a smoking-allowed terrace, walk-in humidor/cigar expert, an extensive collection that includes even rarest whiskies)
- Journeys Lounge (forward on Deck 4/serves the company's onboard enrichment and entertainment program)
- Explora Lounge (forward on Deck 11/with 270-degree seaviews; Afternoon Tea service, also serves light meals and snacks)
- Gelateria & Creperie (midship-starboard on Deck 11 - within The Conservatory/gourmet ice creams and crepes, brand coffees)
- Crema Cafe (midship-starboard on Deck5/serves premium coffees prepared by certified baristas, fresh-pressed juices, gourmet pastries, cakes, desserts)
- Astern Lounge (aft on Deck 5/live music entertainment daily, doubles as nightclub with a DJ programming)
- Astern Pool & Bar (aft on Deck 5/poolside bar lounge with nightly live music/acoustic musicians and DJs)
- Sky Bar on 14 (aft on Deck 14/outdoor lounge)
- Atoll Pool & Bar (aft on Deck 10)
- Helios Pool & Bar (forward on Deck 12/adults-only poolside outdoor lounge)
The Conservatory Pool & Bar (glass roof-protected poolside lounge midship on Deck 11; in the evenings transforms into Cinema for movies under the stars)
Deck 3 houses an Aft Marina Deck (for launching watersports activities) with an adjacent Marina Lounge & Bar and two fore-located Tender Areas (portside and starboard) for ferrying passengers (transportation via tender boats) between the ship and the shore. Forward-starboard is the Infirmary/Medical Centre.
Deck 4 houses the Forward Lounge (with a large stage and amphitheatrical seating), the Casino (gaming lounge fitted with table games and slot machines), the Lobby Hall (24-hour Guest Services/Reception Desk for assistance, Destination Experiences for information on and organizing of land tours and excursions), Boutiques (duty-free shops), as well as two restaurants - Mediterranean-style (portside) and International-style (starboard), with an adjacent Galley (kitchen and storage rooms for food and beverages).
Deck 5 houses an indoor-outdoor Spa (9x Treatment Rooms for massages, Thermal Suites, Beauty Salon), Concept Restaurant, Coffee Lounge (patisserie), Steakhouse, Art Gallery (displaying original artworks and also hosting art auctions), MSC Foundation (a venue dedicated to the established by the Aponte family independent not-for-profit organization that manages MSC Group's conservation and humanitarian activities). Aft are the Pan-Asian Restaurant, Aft Lounge & Bar, and the Lower Aft Plunge Pool & Lounge (outdoor swimming pool with a sundeck area).
The forward section of Deck 6 is a crew-only zone with staff and crew cabins, Messhall (crew dining room and bar lounge) and the crew sundeck (bow-facing sunbathing area with a large Jacuzzi/spa pool).
Besides passenger staterooms, Deck 11 (Lido Deck) houses also the Fitness complex consisting of a Gym Room (fitted with the latest training equipment) and a separate Fitness Studio (for group classes and personal training sessions). Midship on Lido Deck is the main swimming pool (indoor pool covered with a retractable glass roof) and its sunbathing area. The pool deck is served by the poolside bar Gelateria & Creperie (snacks and beverages) and the All-Day Dining Restaurant (indoor Lido buffet with an aft terrace/outdoor seating). At the stern is the Upper Aft Pool & Lounge (sundeck with open-air bar, 4-seat tables, a swimming pool and sunbathing area with daybeds and padded loungers).
On Deck 12 are the Forward Pool & Lounge (adults-only sundeck with a large swimming pool and sunbathing area) and the 2-lane Running Track (making a full circle/looping nearly the entire deck with lined up sun loungers for relaxation).
Aft on Deck 14 is the Panorama Lounge & Bar (an outdoor venue with a Whirlpool/Jacuzzi and sunbathing areas with loungers) and the Sports Court (outdoor facility for playing basketball, volleyball, football, tennis). Midship are the Funnels (smokestacks) adjacent to the Retractable Glass-Roof that covers the main swimming pool (on Deck 11 below).
MSC Explora Journeys' itinerary program will be based mainly on 7-night voyages in Europe (Mediterranean, Baltic, Iceland) featuring less-traveled ports with longer stays (unconventional in-port times of arrival/departure) and many overnights to allow the MSC tourists access to unique ashore experiences.
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MSC Explora 3 Wiki
In January 2018 strong rumors started to circulate about MSC considering the establishment of a new (all-inclusive luxury) cruise brand. There was also the possibility (instead of creating a new brand) MSC to just create a parallel "expedition" fleet, but in 2020 was confirmed that this would be a new brand.
On October 18, 2018, MSC Group and Fincantieri signed the MoA (memorandum of agreement) for building 4x ultra-luxury ships, with contract value EUR 2,0 billion (~USD 2,3B / ~GBP 1,75B). The announcement mentioned that the first unit will be delivered in 2023-Q2, and that the design is based on GT tonnage/volume ~64,000 tons and capacity 500 staterooms.
- The MSC-Fincantieri final shipbuilding contract for the four luxury expedition ships was signed on March 14, 2019.
- Both deals were signed by Pierfrancesco Vago (MSC's Executive Chairman) and Giuseppe Bono (Fincantieri's CEO).
- With this order, MSC's Fincantieri-built ships reached 17 units (total investment EUR 14,96 billion / ~USD 17,27B / ~GBP 13,6B), all to be completed/delivered by the year 2027. By 2027, the MSC's cruise fleet will consist of 29 vessels.
The rumors were officially confirmed in March 2021 when was announced the new brand's senior management team.
- Michael Ungerer (CEO), Chris Austin (CSO-Chief Sales Officer)
- Sarah Doyle (CMO-Chief Marketing Officer)
- Thatcher Brown (Commercial and Strategic Advisor), John Stoll (Destination Experience Advisor)
- Sacha Rougier (Itinerary Planning, Shore Experience)
- Previous to their MSC employments, Chris Austin worked for Seabourn (SVP Global Sales and Marketing), Sarah Doyle for Bacardi Europe (Vice President Marketing), Thatcher Brown for GHK Dream Cruises (President) and Crystal Cruises Asia (Managing Director), Sacha Rougier for Cruise Gate Hamburg/Center Steinwerder (Managing Director), John Stoll for Crystal Cruises and Silversea (as Director Land Programs).
MSC EXPLORA ship technology
All boats for the MSC brand Explora Journeys are constructed at Fincantieri's Monfalcone Shipyard (near Trieste Italy).
WIth Explora I's steel-cutting (June 10, 2021) was also officially launched MSC's expedition travel brand "Explora Journeys". The brand's mandala-inspired logo was designed by Alexa Aponte-Vago (MSC Group's CFO, MSC founder Gianluigi Aponte's daughter and Pierfrancesco Vago's wife).
Explora Journeys' boats are fitted the maritime industry's latest technologies for protecting the environment and also prepared to adopt alternative energy sources (hybrid powerplant) when they become widely available in the near future.
MSC EXPLORA-class ship design incorporates provisions for battery storage (allowing energy generation by a hybrid powerplant) as well as the latest SCR Systems (Selective Catalytic Reduction/aka wet scrubbers) technology for reducing nitrogen oxide/NOx emissions by 90%. Other environmental -supporting and energy-saving technologies implemented in all EXPLORA boats include optimized hull (covered with anti-fouling paint) and hydrodynamics, smart HVAC (heating, ventilation and air-conditioning) system, USCD-approved ballastwater treatment plant, advanced wastewater treatment system, LED lighting (throughout), CII Trim Optimization software (optimizing the trim and draft to reduce main engines fuel consumption up to 3%).
The ships are fitted with shoreside power capabilities (for eliminating CO emissions while port-berthed) and advanced underwater noise management systems (for protecting marine life). All MSC EXPLORA ships also have a comprehensive range of onboard energy-efficient/power-saving equipment to optimize engine use and further reduce emissions.
Explora 1 and 2 are fitted with marine diesel engines running on LSFO (low sulfur fuel oil), Explora 3 and 4 are with LNG engines while Explora 5 and 6 are with LNG engines and hydrogen powerplants (fuel cell technology). All boats are RINA-certified (by RINA DOLPHIN) for reducing underwater noise and vibrations. By MSC's sustainable policies, single-use plastics are not used both on the ships and ashore.
In late-September 2020, Versonix Seaware announced that MSC's new brand will use the Versonix system for online cruise booking. Annually, Versonix serves 20+ million passengers and 100+ ships. Versonix (1986-founded) is a Silicon Valley company (headquartered in San Jose CA USA) specializing in hotel and resort reservation technologies. The company is run by Victor Velton (President) and Yuri Polissky (CEO).
In July 2022, MSC signed a contract with SES SA (Luxembourg-based owner and operator of satellites and terrestrial telecommunications networks) to provide "O3b mPower" (satellite connectivity) to Explora Journeys' fleet. SES' O3b mPower combines the company's second-generation MEO satellites (medium Earth orbit/ positioned ~8000 km / ~5000 mi above the earth) and GEO satellites (geosynchronous equatorial orbit/positioned at altitude~35800 km / 22300 mi).
On July 6, 2022, was signed the MoA for building two more MSC EXPLORA ships (Explora 5 and Explora 6), which are both LNG and hydrogen-powered - with engines running on LNG/liquefied natural gas and also fitted with a containment system for liquid hydrogen. The hydrogen powers a 6-MW/megawatt fuel cell to produce all the electricity needed for the onboard hotel operations. With Explora 5 (2027) and Explora 6 (2028), MSC's Explora Journeys investment totaled EUR 3,5 billion.
MSC EXPLORA-class vessels' initial cost was EUR 495 million (USD 600M) per unit. However, unlike the first pair of sisterships (Explora 1 and Explora 2), the second pair of sisterships (Explora 3 and Explora 4) have a higher building cost (EUR 615 million (USD 730 million, or +EUR 120M each) because of the LNG engines and the related design changes. This also delayed Explora Journeys' boats 3 and 4 deliveries that were rescheduled for 2026 (from 2025) and 2027 (from 2026), respectively.