World Explorer

World Explorer Review and Specifications

Specifications of World Explorer

Year built2019 new ship
BuilderWestSEA shipyard (Viana do Castelo, Portugal)
Classice-strengthened expedition ship
Building costEUR 70 million (USD 80 million)
OwnerMystic Invest via Mystic Cruises (Portugal)
OperatorQuark Expeditions, Nicko Cruises
Speed16 kn / 30 kph / 18 mph
Length (LOA)126 m / 413 ft
Beam (width)19 m / 62 ft
Gross Tonnage9300 gt
Passengers176 - 200
Crew125
Decks8
Cabins86
Decks with cabins2
Sister-shipsWorld Voyager, World Navigator
Christened bytba

Review of World Explorer

MS World Explorer cruise ship is a newbuild specifically designed for operations in the polar regions (Arctic and Antarctica). The vessel is owned by Mystic Invest (via the subsidiary Mystic Cruises) and operated under charter by Nicko Cruises (subsidiary) and Quark Expeditions (Travelopia-owned polar cruise company founded in 1991). The shipbuilder is WestSEA (naval shipyard in Viana do Castelo, Portugal).

The ship World Explorer (2019) is the first in a planned 10-ship fleet of Mystic Cruises, with sisterships World Voyager (2020) and World Navigator (2021).

Ship history and ownership

The vessel is owned by the Portugal-based company Mystic Cruises and seasonally chartered by Quark Expeditions (for polar cruises) and also by the European river cruise operator Nicko Cruises (for the rest of the season). The polar travel company Quark Expeditions (established in 1991) specializes in polar expedition cruises to Antarctica using vessels with ice-strengthened hulls. Quark Expeditions became part of the UK-based TUI Travel on May 1, 2007.

World Explorer cruise ship

Mystic Cruises is a new brand owned by the Portuguese entrepreneur Mario Ferreira - president of Mystic Invest SGPS (group of companies) and best known as CEO of the Portuguese river cruise company Douro Azul, operating on Douro River roundtrips from Oporto. Mario Ferreira is also famous for being Portugal's first space tourist (traveling on Virgin Galactic's Spaceship One / owned by Richard Branson).

The shipowner Mystic Invest is a Portuguese family-owned financial holding that fully owns several brands specializing in travel and tourism business (cruises, tours, hotels) and real estate. The list of brands (subsidiaries) owned by the parent company Mystic Invest includes DouroAzul (Portugal), Mystic Cruises (Portugal), Nicko Cruises (Germany), Priority Dolphin (shipbuilding), Mystic Tua (Portugal), Mystic Adventure (tour agency in Barca d'Alva), World of Discoveries (theme park in Porto Portugal), Helitours (Porto and Douro Valley), BlueBus (Porto), hotels and resorts (Hotel do Cais, Monumental Palace Hotel, Douro Marina Hotel, Wine Lodge Hotel), Caminho das Estrelas (suborbital and Zero-G flights), Mystic Real Estate.

Cabins

The cruise ship World Explorer is an all-suite, all-balcony vessel with a total of 86 staterooms for 176 passengers (max capacity 200). Each of the staterooms offers as standard (complimentary / price-inclusive) amenities

  • en-suite bathroom (shower, WC, washbasin, hairdryer, bathrobes, bath products - shampoo, soaps, shower gel)
  • separate bedroom (double bed or 2 single beds, bedside cabinets, bedside USB charging ports, wall-mounted lamps)
  • mirrored vanity / writing table with armchair, lounge area (2-seater sofabed, caffee table with chairs)
  • smart HDTV (infotainment system), large wardrobe, electronic safe box (in the closet), minibar (refrigerator)
  • individual air-conditioning, LED lighting
  • Each cabin is equipped with orange-colored lifejackets, which are used in cases of emergencies and during lifeboat drills.

Most cabins are with private step-out balconies, excepting only the aft-located (decks 5-6) "French Balcony" cabins, which are with sliding floor-ceiling glass door openning to a railing (Juliet balcony). Cabin balconies are furnished with 1 low table and 2 deckchairs. Superior, Deluxe and Owner suites additionally have 2 lounge chairs on their balconies.

Ship's electrical supply is 220 V (50 Hz). The electrical outlets found in all cabins (and throughout the ship) are standard European 2-pin plugs.

All cabins are cleaned on a daily basis. Towels and bed sheets are changed every 3rd day (subject to cruise itinerary length). Towels on the rack will not be changed. To be changed they must be on the floor or in the shower / sink.

Shipboard laundry and Ironing services are available at extra cost. Laundry fees, as well as the necessary forms and bags are provided in the cabins. Laundry is collected each morning.

World Explorer cruise ship

Shipboard facilities and activities

The ship offers plenty of public areas, including Observation Lounge (glass-domed, with surrounding outdoor terrace), Explorer Lounge (multi-purpose and full-bar venue with floor-ceiling windows and comfortable seating), Library (reading lounge), Lecture Theatre (24-hour open Auditorium serving cruise company's enrichment program with daily scheduled activities, including port talks, discussions, media presentations), aft-located Dining Room Restaurant (with floor-ceiling windows and an outdoor terrace for al fresco dining / weather permitting).

Explorer Lounge doubles as multi-purpose room hosting special events (anniversaries, birthdays, group and private meetings, etc). Fresh-baked cookies and pastries are offered in the afternoons. Hot and cold snacks are available during the evening cocktail hour (activities permitting) and special occasion events. Lounge's Bar is staffed by a professional bartender serving a selection of liquors, spirits, premium beers, wines and champagnes (by the glass). Complimentary beverages include soft drinks, juices, water, coffee, tea.

Polar Library is well stocked with books and popular board games. The Library is open 24 hours. Its collection includes books in various languages and themed on wildlife, history, marine biology, geology, ecology, also field guides, picture- and reference books.

Polar Boutique is ship's gift shop selling travel essentials and souvenirs, as well as a selection of expedition gear (clothing, waterproof pants, gloves, hats). Shop's opening hours are based on the daily scheduled cruise activities.

In the Lobby area is ship's Reception (Guest Services Desk) served by dedicated staff that assists passengers with information, purchasing PIN cards (Internet / email access, phone cards), arranging wake-up calls. The Reception also doubles as Cashier's Office for setting shipboard accounts and making payments of these accounts towards the end of the cruise. Also on Lobby Deck are the ship's two entrance areas (portside and starboard) used for passenger embarkation / disembarkation in ports of call where pier/quay/wharf is available for docking.

Wellness facilities include an outdoor jogging track (on top-deck), small gym, Sauna Room, Spa (room for massages, showers, changing / locker rooms), Hairdresser. On Sun Deck is the outdoor heated swimming pool surrounded by a sunbathing area with loungers. The pool has a kids (shallow) area separated from the deeper saltwater plunge pool. The ship doesn't provide lifeguard on duty. On top-deck (aft) is a Helideck - helipad used in cases of emergencies.

As complimentary shoreside activities are offered camping, seakayaking, stand-up paddleboarding, Zodiac boat tours.

Cruise itineraries

When chartered by Nicko Cruises, the ship operates on cruises in Europe (Mediterranean Sea, Atlantic Coastal, Baltic Sea, Norwegian Fjords), also to Iceland and Greenland.

  • The inaugural Nicko cruise was a 7-day itinerary (May 2-9, 2019) from Oporto Portugal to Palma (Majorca Island, Spain). prior to May 2019, the ship offered 2 repositioning voyages between Europe and South America, but they were available for booking also by other operators and travel agencies.
  • In the Western Mediterranean (southern Europe), for Nicko the ship had scheduled all 4 itineraries, then was relocated to Northern Europe for 2 Norwegian Fjords cruises (13-day itineraries).
  • In July 2019 followed two 12-day "Baltic Capitals" roundtrips from Kiel Germany, followed by one 8-day Iceland cruise from Kiel and two 14-day Kiel roundtrips to Iceland and Greenland. For September were scheduled two roundtrips from Hamburg Germany (7-day, and 5-day), followed by a 13-day relocation itinerary Hamburg-Oporto and the Europe-South Amerca Transatlantic repositioning crossing (October 4) from Lisbon Portugal to Rio de Janeiro Brazil.

When chartered by Quark Expeditions, the ship operates on polar cruises (itineraries to ports and destinations in the Arctic and Antarctica).

Quark cruise deals

Quark Expeditions cruise deals are inclusive of:

  • 1-night pre-cruise hotel stay, group transfers (airport-hotel on the day prior departure, and hotel-ship on embarkation day)
  • onboard accommodation (daily housekeeping service)
  • all onboard meals (breakfasts, lunches, dinners) - know that the ship's galley / kitchen can't prepare kosher meals
  • all Zodiac landings (daily, weather permitting) and Zodiac transfers and cruising (daily)
  • media presentations by Expedition Team members and special guest lecturers
  • waterproof expedition boots (on shore landings)
  • complimentary Quark Expeditions logoed parka
  • lifejackets and immersion suits
  • complimentary coffee, tea and cocoa (24 / 7)
  • hairdryer and bathrobe (in all cabins)
  • pre-departure materials (including maps)
  • all service taxes and port fees
  • all onboard luggage handling
  • emergency evacuation (medevac) insurance to a max benefit USD 100,000 pp
  • Fly-cruise deals are inclusive of complimentary house wines (by the glass), beers and spirits on the ship, also of all gratuities (staff and crew) and all domestic flights (prior to embarkation).
  • Shipboard laundry and Ironing services are available at additional cost.
  • Ship-to-shore communications are via Inmarsat Capsat Fleet 77 (satellite phone and Internet) and cost extra.

World Explorer wiki

All Mystic Invest newbuilds as investments were backed by ICBC Leasing - part of ICBC Ltd (Chinese multinational bank, ranked world's largest by assets, deposits, loans, customers and employees). The shipbuilding financing was supported by Portuguese banks (during construction) and ICBCL Leasing funding (following delivery) through sale and charter-back of the vessel, with an obligation to repurchase it on maturity. Mystic Invest intends to build a 10-ship fleet of the same design.

In August 2017 were completed design's tank tests. The testing water tank and ship model were conducted by the Wageningen-based MARIN (Maritime Research Institute Netherlands). On September 8, 2017, was vessel's steel-cutting ceremony held at WestSEA shipyard (Viana do Castelo, Portugal). The ship (hull number C010) is first in a series of polar expedition cruise vessels constructed for Mystic Cruises, with planned seasonal charter operations by Quark Expeditions.

In 2018 (February 20 through March 1), Nicko Tours scheduled a total of 10 road shows in Germany to promote company's new "ocean cruising" business. Each of the shows started with a casual get-together and buffet with finger food, followed by presentation of the vessel and its Nicko cruise itineraries. Then travel agents enjoyed full meals and gourmet desserts.

Vessel's launch (float-out from drydock) was on October 28, 2018.

For summer 2019, the ship was chartered by the German river cruisetour company Nicko Cruises (subsidiary of Mystic Cruises), offering two 14-day voyages to Antarctica.

World Explorer ship technology

Ship's design is based on a Rolls-Royce expedition vessel platform developed by Giuseppe Tringali (Italian naval architect). It features an ice-strengthened hull (ice class 1B), top-notch automation and control system, modern propulsion (based on electrical pods / azimuthing thrusters), dynamic positioning system (using GPS data to accurately maintain ship's position without anchoring), advanced water treatment system, hybrid powerplant (diesel-electric) with efficient marine engines (two Rolls-Royce engines running on ULSD / ultra-low-sulfur diesel).

The Rolls-Royce powerplant costs GBP 7 million (EUR 7,75 million / 8,9 million) and includes two main engines (Bergen C25-33L8P) and one auxiliary dual-fuel genset (Bergen C25-33L6P). The engines are connected to ship's electric power system (Rolls-Royce SAVe CUBE) allowing them to operate efficiently at variable speeds. Rolls-Royce Promas propulsion is an integrated propeller-rudder system to optimise hydrodynamic efficiency. Promas includes two controllable pitch propellers integrated with two flap rudders, steering gears and tunnel thrusters.

Vessel's draft is only 15 ft (4,7 m) allowing access to remote islands and unique coastal destinations. The ship has all 2 lifeboats (full-capacity) which are fully enclosed. Ship-to-shore communications are via Inmarsat Capsat Fleet 77 (satellite phone and Internet). Landings (passenger transportation) and coastal exploration voyages are served by ship's own fleet of ten Zodiacs (motorized boats stored aft on Deck 7) and 2 loading stations.

The shipbuilder WestSEA is owned by Martifer Group via the subsidiary Martifer SGPS. This is a family-owned holding company founded in 1990 (by the brothers Carlos and Jorge Martins), headquartered in Oliveira de Frades (Portugal) and Euronext Lisbon (stock exchange) listed since 2007. Martifer Group has over 3000 employees and specializes in metal construction and (since 2004) in renewable energy (wind and solar energy equipment production). Martifer Group is one of Europe's largest metal construction companies, with subsidiaries in Spain, Poland, Romania, Czech Republic, Slovakia, Germany, Brazil and Angola.

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