MSC Cruises‘ new luxury cruise line subsidiary, Explora Journeys, has laid the keel for its second cruise ship, Explora II, at the Fincantieri shipyard in Castellammare di Stabia, Italy.
Explora II will be the second of an initial order of four identical sister ships for the new cruise line, and will be delivered in 2024, a year after the first, Explora I, in 2023.
Explora I is also under construction with Fincantieri, but is being built at their shipyard in Monfalcone, Italy. She is due for delivery in May next year.
Senior executives from MSC Cruises, Explora Journeys and Fincantieri attended the keel laying ceremony, which marks the start of the ship’s assembly and is the second major construction milestone after steel cutting.
“We are thrilled to witness this key milestone for Explora Journeys, which signals our firm commitment to launch a luxury lifestyle brand that incorporates effective sustainability planning and maximises social and economic benefits for the communities that our ships will visit and leave a positive legacy for the next generation,” said Michael Ungerer, Chief Executive Officer, Explora Journeys.
Explora II will be 63,900 gross tons and carry 922 passengers in 461 all balcony suites. The smallest of these will be 377 feet, which is the largest of any luxury cruise line’s entry-level accommodations.
Each stateroom will have floor-to-ceiling windows that open onto a step-out balcony, giving passengers unrivalled views of the destinations visited, which Explora Journeys says will be “off the beaten path”.
Not much has been revealed about the vessels yet, but what we do know is that each will have four swimming pools, including one with a retractable roof, and more than 27,000-square-feet of outdoor deck space.
Around the main pool there will be 64 private cabanas, hot tubs, and a large LED screen for Princess Cruises-style Movies Under the Stars.
There will also be 9 different dining options, a spa, and fitness center with a separate studio for group classes and personal training sessions.
Inaugural itineraries for Explora II haven’t been announced yet, but Explora Journeys has confirmed that its first ship, Explora I, will spend its maiden season in the Mediterranean, Northern Europe, Iceland, Greenland, the US, Canada, the Caribbean, South America and Hawai.
These cruises will range from short 5-night itineraries to 43-night grand voyages, but all will feature longer stays in port and overnight port calls so that passengers can maximise their time ashore.