Review: Explora I

The inaugural ship from Explora Journeys certainly has the wow factor

Location: Explora I is currently sailing itineraries in northern Europe, before crossing the Atlantic to spend winter in North America and the Caribbean. It will then return to Europe for summer voyages in the Mediterranean in 2024. Destinations in the inaugural season include Bordeaux, St Tropez, Reykjavík and the Lofoten Islands, Norway. Sailing durations range from seven to 44 nights.

First impressions: When launching a new cruise line, first impressions truly matter, and Explora I certainly has the wow factor – from hull to aft, this is one good-looking ship. Built by Fincantieri and designed in partnership with the world’s foremost superyacht specialists, architects and designers including SMC Design, the interior would give any established luxury line or boutique hotel a run for its money.

The meticulous attention to detail and bespoke finish is evident throughout, from the signature house fragrance created by a master perfumer, which infuses the ship with a sophisticated scent, to the high-spec Dyson Supersonic hairstyling tools in every suite.

The facts: This is a relaxed luxury cruise experience, without being stuffy or overly formal. The 922-passenger Explora I has one of the highest guest-to-crew ratios in the luxury ocean category. The ship is also home to some of the most spacious suites in the sector, starting at 376sq ft. The brand has talked about its ‘Ocean State of Mind’ concept since its inception, which is essentially onboard spaces that help clients connect with the ocean.

The three outdoor pools are part of this, with 64 cabanas for guests to lounge upon. There’s also another indoor pool with a retractable glass roof. Moët & Chandon is the house champagne, and in-suite welcome bottles include Veuve Clicquot, vintage Moët and vintage Dom Pérignon. Menus and wine selections are drawn from local cultures and regions across six restaurants and multiple culinary experiences.

Venues include Anthology, where successful international chefs will take residency for short bursts of time; Marble & Co for a redefined European steakhouse experience; and the immersive Chef’s Kitchen, which is held in an oceanfront private kitchen and extends ashore with tours including visits to local markets and producers. In-suite dining is complimentary and available 24 hours a day. Unlimited beverages, fine wines and premium spirits, speciality coffees, teas and soft drinks are available at any time.

Ideal for: The epic service levels, combined with ample onboard space and having wellness infused in all aspects of the experience, means the line is appeasing a new type of cruise passenger. In fact it is purposely targeting “a new generation of discerning luxury travellers”. The multigenerational category is also catered for, with 78 connecting suites, while solo travellers can benefit from a single supplement from only 15%.

Wow: The beating heart of the ship, the expansive Ocean Wellness spa, features 11 treatment rooms, a hydrotherapy pool, ice fountain, saunas, salt cave, relaxation rooms and even crystal-infused water. Five pillars – energy, sleep, relaxation, mindfulness and immunity – help guests connect with mind, body and soul, assisted by world-class brands including Aromatherapy Associates and Dr Levy.

The spa boasts 21 treatments using techniques such as cryotherapy, lymphatic drainage and breath work. Indoor and outdoor facilities include a running track and sports court. In-suite wellbeing and fitness is also available.

Book it: A nine-night journey round-trip from Bridgetown, Barbados, in an Ocean Terrace Suite costs from £3,850 per person, based on a January 31 departure.