(11:15 a.m. EDT) -- MSC Cruises new luxury cruise line "Explora Journeys" has marked the first stage of the construction process of a second luxury ship by cutting the first steel plates at a ceremony in Italy.
Explora II will launch in Spring 2024, followed by two further new ships in 2025 and 2026, all of which will carry 922 passengers in 461 all-balcony suites. Explora Journeys is the line's first foray into the luxury market.
The event was attended by executives including Pierfrancesco Vago, Michael Ungerer, CEO Explora Journeys and Luigi Matarazzo, General Manager Merchant Ships Division, Fincantieri.
Pierfrancesco Vago, Executive Chairman of MSC Group's Cruise Division,said: "The start of Explora Journeys' second ship signals our firm commitment to our tourism partners for the coming-to-market of our new luxury brand with a significant financial investment in a fleet of innovative, elegant ships, that will bring together our vision and purpose to create an ocean state of mind like no other.
"Given our belief in this brand to create a new category in luxury, lifestyle travel, we will continue to invest in its expansion to attract the growing number and aspirations of the next generation of discerning luxury travellers."
Michael Ungerer, CEO Explora Journeys, added: "We are greatly encouraged by the tremendous enthusiasm and support we have received so far from the travel advisor community who have placed their trust in Explora Journeys since our launch in June and for their overwhelming response to our exclusive "By Appointment" service and innovative commercial terms."
By Appointment allows passengers to speak to a travel advisor and choose the specific suite they want at time of booking.
The 14-deck vessels will have four swimming pools, including one with a retractable roof; nine dining "experiences" and a crew to guest ratio of 1.25 to 1.
Cabin sizes are an industry-leading 35 sq m or 377 square feet.
Outdoor decks will have more than 2,500 square metres overlooking the sea, with 64 private cabanas across three outdoor pools. The fourth pool, with a retractable glass roof, will allow swimming in any weather.
The ships will utilise the latest in environmental-supporting technologies, while being ready to adapt to alternative energy solutions as they become available. The design incorporates provision for battery storage to allow future hybrid power generation, as well as the latest selective catalytic reduction (SCR) technology, enabling a reduction of nitrogen oxide (NOx) emissions by 90 per cent.
The ship will also have ship-to-shore power capabilities to avoid CO2 emissions while at berth and will be powered by marine gas oil.