Sea trials of MSC’s Explora I have completed

MSC Group has moved one step closer to its entry into the luxury cruise market as it prepares to launch the brand Explora Journeys. Italian shipbuilder Fincantieri recently completed sea trials for the brand’s first cruise ship, Explora I (IMO 9869875).

Explora Journeys CEO Michael Ungerer said that “we are pleased that Explora I passed with flying colours”.

MSC had been rumoured to be targeting the market before the October 2018 announcement that they had reached an initial agreement with Fincantieri to build four smaller, luxury cruise ships. The €2bn-plus order was finalized in March 2019, with four 64,000 gt cruise ships due for delivery between 2023 and 2026.

Explora I will offer 23 ocean residences in addition to its 438 suites.

Construction for Explora I began in June 2021, at Fincantieri’s shipyard in Monfalcone, Italy. The first two cruise ships for the brand will be sibling ships.

The Explora I was floated by Fincantieri on May 30th 2022, with construction on Explora II beginning that month. The Explora II is due to enter service in August 2024, sailing in the Mediterranean.

A naming ceremony for Explora I has been scheduled for July 8th in Civitavecchia, Italy after which the vessel will proceed to Southampton, England for its maiden voyage. The brand will make its official debut with a 15-night maiden voyage commencing July 17th, sailing to Northern Europe and the Arctic Circle.

In 2022 MSC and Fincantieri announced plans to redesign the third and fourth ships. The plan calls for lengthening the ships by 62f to permit the use of a new generation of LNG-fuelled engines. The changes will cost an additional €120m each for fitting Explora III and IV with LNG engines. It also necessitated a temporary halt to work due to the significant redesign. They are now scheduled to be delivered in 2026 and 2027. The company also reported plans to build two additional cruise ships – the Exploras V and VI. These will feature a new generation of LNG engines that will tackle the issue of methane slip. These ships are due to launch in 2027 and 2028.

MSC’s investment in ships for Explora Journeys’ fleet was now estimated at €3.5bn.

2023-built, Malta-flagged, 64,000 gt Explora I is owned and managed by MSC Crociere SpA of Naples, Italy. Explora II is a sibling ship with the same ownership and management.