Explora Journeys Captures The Ocean State of Mind
I have recently disembarked from my first stay (of many, I hope) on the brand new Explora 1 luxury cruise ship - the first of 6 slated to sail our oceans over the next 5 years from the new line, Explora Journeys. EJ is the brainchild of the Aponte family, the owners of Mediterranean Shipping Company, a private, family owned business for over 50 years and the largest shipping company in the world. They wanted to bring their own yachting experience to a luxury cruise line for others to enjoy as they have over the years.
Explora has managed to do something quite difficult to capture in words, but I will do my best to articulate it. They have truly created a comfortable, effortless vacation experience on a ship that doesn’t feel like a ship. I can’t explain how it’s elegant and luxurious, yet so comfortable, like putting on your favorite cashmere sweater with a pair of jeans - and maybe slippers too! The ship is like nothing I’ve ever experienced.
First, the accommodations: 451 all balcony suites, 300 square feet and up, large balconies with sunbeds and table/chairs for your outdoor breakfast or cocktails. They feature walk-in closets, beautiful marble bathrooms with heated floors, TONS of storage, beautiful lighting and an elegant color palette. The bedding is so amazing as well you may not want to get out of bed!
Next, the food - there isn’t enough space on the page to discuss the food. The Emporium, located on deck 11 is the go-to spot if your group can’t decide what to have. It’s open for breakfast, lunch and dinner with freshly prepared on the spot offering everything from sushi to fresh pizza and pasta, stir fry, a carving station, fresh made to order salads and bowls, soups, a grill, and freshly made “dishes” daily and so so much more. The quality was like none I’ve ever experienced at sea. (are you detecting a theme here?)
There are also several specialty restaurants: Sakura, featuring modern Asian cuisine; Marble, featuring steaks and seafood; and Anthologie, which is a Michelin star restaurant. They have partnered with Michelin star chefs to come on board for a few months at a time to actually bring their restaurant onto the ship - so Anthologie will change with whichever chef is on board at the moment. This is a totally new concept as it’s not a menu inspired by or in partnership with a celebrity chef, but the actual chefs themselves! There is also a world class, hands on cooking school on board with so many daily offerings! AND I would be remiss if I didn’t mention the Crema Cafe - I had so many delicious lattes there as well as cookies, sandwiches and other treats. Truly a great place to hang out.
Also… LOUNGES! Probably one of the biggest WOW factors is the Lobby Bar - designed after a European Luxury hotel, you don’t feel like you’re on a ship, yet at a comfortable, upscale hotel. But if you want something different there are so many other little spots to find, from pool bars to the Astern Lounge, and the Explora Lounge which has afternoon tea, live piano music and even boasts an outdoor deck for when you want to just take in the endless ocean views from the front!
What about activities? As far as fitness goes, you’ll find a full gym with all the modern equipment you could need to stay fit. But wait, there’s more - there’s an outdoor fitness area also with rowers, fitness benches - a pickle ball court and of course a jogging track. I was able to take a Pilates class (they offer mat as well as reformer), a Yoga class and a sound bath meditation experience.
Can we talk pools for a minute? At my count I found four, one up front on deck 12, one midship deck 11 with a retractable roof - this one feels like you’re in a lush comfortable atrium with a large LED screen at one end and a gelato/sorbet/crepe bar as well as a regular beverage bar at the other end and by the way, the pool towels are HUGE (as well as the regular bath towels). There’s also a pool aft on deck 10 and the Astern pool on deck 5 aft. There are super neat infinity hot tubs along the side of the midship pool on deck 11 as well as outside on deck 12 and a few others dotted around.
The spa features everything you’d expect from facials, massages to a steam room, sauna, salt room, relaxation and hydrotherapy pool! These are open during certain times of the day to all guests - not just those with spa appointments. Of course there’s also a salon for nails and hair.
You’ll also find lectures, music, entertainment, classes, books.. Seriously boredom is only an option if you choose it!!
As I write this, my brain is firing back at me saying “what about this” or “tell them about that” because there is so much to say but alas, I wish to leave some of it to your imagination. Trust me when I say that this is an experience, a vacation that is for cruisers and non-cruisers alike. If you enjoy comfortable luxury, this is one to experience!
If this has intrigued you at all, please reach out to me immediately! I have a limited number of offers I can distribute as part of the inaugural year and due to my support of this exciting new entry into the luxury travel space. You will not regret it! I’ll see you on board the beautiful Explora Journeys very soon!