Nature – its colors, its seemingly effortless constancy – enchants us, even heals us. Travel exposes us to the opportunity to bask in nature’s beauty in its countless forms. One of these – the sea – has long held us in its powerful enthrall, revitalizing us with a sense of joyful, limitless possibility. It’s what Explora Journeys calls the Ocean State of Mind. Connecting travelers to this feeling is at the heart of every Explora Journeys experience, starting with the debut of its first ship, EXPLORA I, in July 2023.
The visionary Aponte family has long imagined an ocean experience unlike any other. With a 300-year heritage of seafaring tradition, the family founded the Mediterranean Shipping Company Group in the 1970s, and today, Explora Journeys’ parent company is one of the largest privately held shipping corporations in the world, known for its expertise and stability alike.
Through the Aponte family’s passion and commitment, the introduction of Explora Journeys marks the birth of their bold vision for luxury ocean travel. Indeed, Explora Journeys is a vibrant, cosmopolitan, European luxury lifestyle brand that is redefining ocean travel for a new generation of discerning travelers.
Along with this appreciation for what the world’s oceans give us, is a deep and thoughtful reverence for the sea as a source – of life, of wonder, of livelihood, and of connection. This respect and awareness for this precious resource is at the heart of Explora Journeys’ ever-growing sustainability initiatives.
With a mindset that we must do what we can to leave the world better for the next generation, Explora Journeys has introduced numerous technical and operational efficiencies on its ships, and has a broad vision for doing what it can to protect the oceans, lands and cultures that it visits.
The brand aims to lead in the areas of fuel, emissions and noise, and supports its parent company’s pledge to achieve net-zero greenhouse gas emissions in its cruise marine operation by 2050. With a belief in the interconnectedness of communities and places, of cultures and planet, Explora Journeys is committed to lessening its environmental impact in profound ways, and, importantly, to constantly evaluating and improving efforts to do so.
When it comes to the planet, Explora Journeys aims to limit harmful emissions and reduce waste:
- All ships will have catalytic reduction technology, reducing nitrogen output by 90%
- Ship-to-shore power will cut CO2
- Considering the five ships on order to follow EXPLORA I, ships V and VI will be hydrogen-powered, using a new generation of liquefied natural gas – or LNG – engines, that will tackle the issue of methane slip, which is when methane gas leaks into the atmosphere
- Hydrogen fuel holds the additional benefit of producing emission-free power for the hotel operation, and allowing vessels to run on zero emissions in port, with the engines turned off
- This was so monumental that Explora Journeys retroactively decided that ships III and IV should also have this technology, and thus will be lengthened by 19 meters beyond their original design, in order to also be able to run on LNG and hydrogen power
- All of Explora Journeys’ ships will be equipped with RINA DOLPHIN technology, which helps protect whales and dolphins from harmful operational noise with varying noise limits based on specific marine conditions – for example, in areas with high concentrations of marine mammals
- Guests, of course, will immediately notice their direct part in the brand’s efforts, as Explora Journeys will not use single-use plastics onboard or ashore.
When it comes to places, Explora Journeys directly supports its founders’ MSC Foundation, which aims to restore the critical balance between people and nature within a generation. MSC Foundation partners with organizations around the world to support initiatives around environmental conservation, community support, education, and emergency relief. Examples of ongoing efforts include:
- Partnering with Marevivo in Italy, to tackle the 73 tons of plastic waste that enter the Mediterranean Sea daily
- In the Bahamas, the Super Coral Program aims to help mitigate the fact that up to 90% of the global tropical coral reefs are vulnerable to ocean warming, pollution and overfishing leading to coral reef bleaching and reef death by the year 2030. In the Bahamas, the Super Coral Program aims to help mitigate the fact that up to 90% of global tropical coral reefs are vulnerable to ocean warming, pollution and overfishing leading to coral bleaching and reef death by the year 2030
- As members of the Global Sustainable Travel Council, Explora Journeys seeks to ensure that all its tour operators, partners and suppliers adhere to a program focused on planning, maximizing social and economic benefits for local communities, enhancing cultural heritage, and reducing negative impacts to the environment.
Explora Journeys also recognizes the importance of caring for people:
- It has built a groundbreaking enrichment program for its onboard hosts, emphasizing quality of life, balance and well-being
- The MSC Foundation in Africa, with the partner organization Mercy Ships, has a ‘Ships of Hope’ program that brings hope and healing to thousands of people without access to safe, modern healthcare and surgery
- And in 2022, the Foundation launched an urgent humanitarian response to Europe’s largest refugee crisis this century, as millions of forcibly displaced people from Ukraine fled across the border with only what they could carry.
Each of us can play a part in doing what we can to preserve and protect and even improve this stunning world.
So, as travellers, we all want to know that we are engaging with brands that are doing what they can to lessen or even improve their impact. A major luxury consortia’s 2022 sustainability survey revealed that more than 80% of respondents said the pandemic made them want to travel more responsibly. The survey also confirmed that 75% of respondents are willing to pay more to travel responsibly, with the caveat that they would want to know how the additional costs are being used.
A recent Forbes article said that “luxury brands must make a bold, definitive statement” – or risk adverse consequences. And, it stated that as important as this issue is, people hesitate to talk about it due to a fear of not being perfect. Explora Journeys openly acknowledges that no one is perfect in this area, that we can all do better, and that we will do better.
Explora Journeys is clear about its intention and its beliefs: to do what it can to bring care and respect for the world into its business.
With world-renowned oceanographer, explorer and conservationist Dr. Sylvia Earle named as EXPLORA I’s godmother, the new, innovative cruise brand is clearly demonstrating its passion for the glittering, wondrous sea.
Dr. Earle – also an author and the founder and chairman of Mission Blue – once noted, ‘With every drop of water you drink, every breath you take, you’re connected to the sea. No matter where on Earth you live.’
Just as we are connected to one another, we are connected to – and by – the oceans of this world.
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