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Explora Journeys - My New Favorite Ocean Cruise Line

We had the most wonderful experience on the new Explora Journeys “Explora I” cruise ship last week and I’ve now deemed it my favorite ocean cruise ship thus far. I have clients who also happened to be on board and have also done extensive luxury ocean cruising and agree with this impression as well.


The Lovely Explora Journeys Explora I


Everything about it was amazing from the attentive client care by their crew to the incredible culinary experience in every one of their dining venues, to the fabulous spaces everywhere on the ship making one feel as if there’s hardly anyone else aboard the ship. Not to mention, the incredibly large suite sizing, even in their entry level Ocean Suites that start at 377 square feet including the terrace (balcony) and King size beds!


Our Ocean Terrace Suite


They also have other larger, more grandiose options including some fabulous penthouse suites and residences, some that include private whirlpools on their decks, separate bedrooms & dining areas, and they also have some great ADA compliant options that are absolutely perfect for those in need.  I was able to tour many of these other suite options and particularly loved their Premium Penthouse offering.


ADA Compliant Bathroom in Ocean Terrace ADA Suite


Almost everything is included such as their fabulous 6-star meals, all specialty coffees and a huge variety of great wines by the glass plus top-shelf liquor including getting your choice of a free bottle of something in your suite along with their included bottle of champagne, i.e. ‘Mercier Champagne’, upon arrival. They also include gratuities, high speed Wi-Fi (with Starlink, so the speed is great!), thermal spa access, well-being and fitness programs, in-suite dining, and shuttle services from port to city center where available.


"Mercier" Champagne and other goodies


The only thing they really don’t include is excursions, one specialty dining experience in Anthology where they have a featured Michelin chef each sailing with exquisite, paired wines, wine & gin tasting sessions, typical spa activities such as hair/nails/massage/etc. and their fantastic Boutique collection.


Hair/Nail Salon in Ocean Wellness Area


Ok, funny story here… I was speaking to a client as we were about to disembark, and they told me that they bought a Rolex watch on board and were able to leave with this watch. Apparently, the latest news with Rolex watch availability is that it can take up to a couple of years these days to acquire one. There were a number of guests on our sailing who actually came on board to purchase their Rolex watches! I thought that story was pretty special!



As for their restaurants, one option is their “Emporium Marketplace” that has more than 20 stations with every imaginable type of food including shellfish such as lobster, a sushi/sashimi bar, carvery, grill area, pasta station, international foods, salad station, gelaterie/creperie, sweets area, charcuterie and so much more. All very elegantly presented and with an astounding variety of options. This is available for breakfast, lunch and dinner every day.


A Couple of shots of the Marketplace Emporium


They also have a wonderful French restaurant called Fil Rouge and a Mediterranean restaurant called Med Club with delightful a la carte menus and you can dine at one of these any night if you desire plus breakfast for the former and lunch for the latter if you prefer to be served at your table. One other restaurant that you can dine at once during a 7-night journey at no extra charge includes Sakura, their Pan-Asian restaurant offering Japanese, Thai, Vietnamese and Malaysian flavors. The other one you can dine at once during a 7-night stay is Marble & Co., a prime steakhouse option serving the finest beef with exceptional cuts and so much more.


Fil Rouge - The French Restaurant


Med Yacht Club Restaurant - Mediterranean


Sakura Restaurant - Pan-Asian


Marble & Co. - Specialty Steakhouse & more


They also have their Crema Café serving amazing specialty coffees/teas and plenty of extra goodies and it’s such a comfortable place to sit and read during the morning, afternoon or evening with a cuppa.


Crema Cafe - Coffee/Tea Extraordinaire


The Chef’s Kitchen is another delightful option with some great cooking classes. This is an extra cost although Explora Journeys is quite generous especially through my Virtuoso connection with their on-board credits that can be used for events such as this and wine/gin tasting classes or shore excursions as well. I took part in one of these cooking classes and even though I don’t usually cook (I’m fortunate to have a husband who does), I thoroughly enjoyed it. There are several menus to choose from during each cruise. I happened to have joined the one with a delicious French Onion Soup and a fabulous “Chicken Cocotte” recipe with Chef Pierre and 9 other fellow travelers. It was delicious and so much fun! Of course, we drank a delicious Sauvignon Blanc throughout the cooking class and then enjoyed dining on our own creation at the end.


The Chef's Kitchen - In Preparation Mode


Chef's Kitchen Take-Aways


Chef's Kitchen - The Final Results


Anthology is the other added cost event that may be worth a try for those interested in even more exquisite culinary dining with a Michelin Chef that has a menu that includes a multi-course menu with optional exquisitely paired wines. We ended up not doing this since it wasn’t recommended for my allergy situation. I think perhaps with added time they could have done something for me but at this time were unable to accommodate me. I have heard that it’s even more incredible for those with this desire.


Anthology Restaurant


As for the bars and lounges, there are plenty of these to choose from as well including 2 of my favorites, both the Sky Bar on the very top deck and the Journeys Lounge that is located forward on the ship and has a wonderful atmosphere with plenty of comfy seating, great lighting and a fabulous view at the front of the ship.


The Sky Bar


The Journeys Lounge


Attached to the Journeys Lounge is the Malt Whiskey Bar & Lounge that includes a separate walk-in Cigar Humidor area. They also have a dedicated outdoor cigar-smoking terrace as well.


Malt Whiskey Bar


Cigar Humidor


They also have the most impressive "Lobby Bar" that makes you feel more as though you're in a luxury hotel property vs. on board a cruise ship. I just love this unique feature of the Explora I!


The Unique Lobby Bar


The pools are plentiful all over the ship including their wonderful Conservatory Pool and Bar area that can either be indoor or outdoor depending on weather since it has a retractable glass roof. They also have a wave pool and multiple other pools all over the ship enabling plenty of opportunity to not be a crowded space when you’re wanting to cool off.


The Conservatory Pool & Bar Area with Retractable Roof


One of the Many Scenic Pool Areas


Their fantastic infinity whirlpools are available on both the port and starboard sides of the ship.  These whirlpools offer an amazing experience while you glide along the ocean with temperatures of 104 degrees Fahrenheit or 40 degrees Celsius. The side glass of the whirlpools are actually part of the siding of the ship to give spectacular views of your journey as you enjoy the sensation of the jets in the spa.


Infinity Whirlpools on Sides of the Ship


Speaking of spas, their Ocean Wellness Center is absolutely amazing with so many great

They have a huge Fitness Center with multiple rooms including a massive array of the latest in fitness equipment. They have many different classes as well to keep you fit while you enjoy all their marvelous food and drink while onboard. They also have an outdoor top deck sports area that includes a basketball/pickleball court playing area and a running/walking track.


Ocean Wellness Area


Sauna


Ocean Wellness - One of the many treatment areas


Ocean Wellness - Massage Area


Huge Fitness Center


Fitness Center - Another Room


Fitness Center - And Yet Another Room


Outdoor Sports Deck with Pickleball/Basketball Court


They do have a Casino onboard for those who want to partake in this activity and plenty of other daytime and evening entertainment including some great pianists, guitar players, singers, dancers, luminaries, comedians and more.


The Casino


The Journeys Lounge Area for Entertainment


Brilliant Singer & Pianist Nathaniel


For those interested in knowing about their laundry facilities, they do have both the ‘do-it-yourself option’ with launderettes and they also provide laundry, dry cleaning and pressing options as well on board for a charge.


They even have a Nautilus Club for younger guests aged 3 to 17 years of age although I must admit we didn't see many people using it even though there were some young families on board. Any children that were on board seemed so well-behaved and you barely saw them let alone heard them. Very impressive.


The Nautilus Club for the Younger Set


The only challenge right now is choosing the best itinerary for yourself and the right timing as it’s becoming more popular and will become the force to be reckoned with in the luxury cruising realm. You see it’s all been created by the Aponte family who owns the huge MSC Group, that’s an international shipping conglomerate. It’s their ‘passion project’ that they’ve been working on and dreaming of for years. They have many more ships coming over the next number of years with plans to expand their itineraries all over the world.


Stay tuned for so much more to come with Explora Journeys – they’ve barely scratched the surface with this wonderful new cruise entry of theirs in the luxury cruising category!

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