Explora Journeys on the voyage of regional success


Explora Journeys, the luxury lifestyle ocean travel brand of the MSC Group, has been making waves in the Middle East region with its offerings.

With the launch of Explora I last year and the upcoming September debut of Explora II, the second of six luxury ships of Explora Journeys, discerning travellers can travel to both the Western and Eastern Mediterranean this summer.

With overnights and longer stays at destinations Explora Journeys provides guests with a chance to delve into local cultures and experiences, creating memories that last a lifetime. Journeys start at seven nights and can extend to 14 or 21 nights, all departing from easily accessible ports.



Explora II will offer a total of 14 decks offering 16,600 sqm total public space, with one of the highest guest-to-space ratios in the luxury ocean category at 18.4 sqm.

Some 461 oceanfront ‘Homes at Sea’ will be available on board Explora II with an average size of 42 sqm. The vessel will boast a choice of 11 culinary experiences, 6 unique restaurants and 12 bars and lounges. Ocean Wellness will provide both indoor and outdoor wellness and fitness facilities, 9 treatment rooms and 1 beauty salon.


There is no place like the Middle East during the winter that can offer this variety and richness as a destination
– Angelo Capurro



Explora II has successfully completed her sea trials and will start sailing on September 16, 2024, for her maiden journey from Barcelona, Spain. It will provide access to some of the Western Mediterranean’s most enchanting and less-explored destinations to ensure guests experience the splendour of the Mediterranean’s most celebrated places, rich in history and culture. The itineraries will feature distinctive ports such as Portofino, Porto Cervo, St-Tropez, Calvi, Mahon or Monte Carlo.

Designed by leading European architect studios and built by Fincantieri, Explora Journeys ships embody relaxed modern luxury with vibrant and cosmopolitan atmosphere. Yacht-inspired design elements and attention to detail elevate the onboard experience, setting Explora Journeys apart as a leader in luxury travel.



Being first has many benefits, in terms of garnering market share and reputation. This is something the MSC brand experienced first-hand when it ventured into Saudi Arabia years ago. “When talking about Saudi, the big advantage we had is that because we are a family-owned company, because of the kind of relationship we have with different governments as a group, we could enter into a contract with the local government,” explained Angelo Capurro, Executive Director, Explora Journeys, in an interview with TTN Middle East.

 So, when the Saudis wanted to charter a ship to offer their residents, citizens and visitors a chance to experience a holiday off-land, without going abroad, Explora Journeys was able to provide. “We chartered an entire ship to them.”

And that was only the beginning. The region is rife with tourism opportunities, says Capurro. “If you have to dream and design an itinerary, I think there is no place like the Middle East during the winter that can offer this variety and richness as a destination.”

Saudi Arabia has seen a rise in tourist interest. And Capurro expects this interest to grow. “There are some places that are unique there. They are under development destinations. For instance, Al Ula is a wonderful destination. A unique destination. No one had the possibility to visit in the past. So, it’s also new in the eye of the travellers.”

The company works to make the most efficient and fun-packed itinerary for every trip.  Capurro explains that when people are crafting their own experiences, they may need to organise three or four holidays to the same destination to be able to take in its uniqueness. However, with the cruise, they get a little of everything.

The company has streamlined its operations over the past few years – being one of the first firms to begin operations during the COVID period proved beneficial. Capurro explained: “We were the ones that created the protocol in order to start operations during Covid-19. Being a small company compared to our competitors, by being a family-owned company and very flexible and very organised, it was easy to take a decision. So, we decided to invest and to establish ourselves and create the protocol for the entire industry.”

This obligation to cater to various nationalities is in-built into the brand ethos. “We are obliged to think when we design a show to cater to different audiences. We need to be recognisable, understandable for people from every single part of the world. We registered last year, 167 different nationalities onboard our shows. And this, I think, is the big advantage, the big difference we have compared to others.”



Cruise ships in the region have to follow certain cultural sensitives while keeping the global audiences in mind. This is something that’s not lost on Capurro, “We are following the rules of the different area where we go. So when the ship is docked, when we have a place where there are restrictions, we are obliged to follow the rules, but we need to consider that when the ship is going in international waters, we become an international product. And we also need to consider that we are serving all our guests coming from every part of the world.”

Country politics can lead to rough seas for cruises, but Capurro says it all boils down to preparation. “We always take into consideration, as you can imagine, having more than 1,000 ships all over the place now, because as a group, we have practically close to 1,000 ships for the cargo side, plus the ferries, plus the 22 and plus one Explora. We are always in contact with every single government and nation in order to understand what the limit is, the risk in the different areas. We have advantage that we have information from trusted sources and we are flexible in our approach.”

It helps to know local customs and dos-and-don’ts. But it also helps to know your clientele, which has changed since the pandemic. Capurro explains that there has been an increase in the number of people wanting to go cruising solo. “What is interesting that we saw specifically in Explora Journeys, a huge percentage of solo travellers. Out of all the passengers that book our product, we have 20 per cent that are going solo,” he said.

On the future for MSC and Explore Journeys in the region, Capurro was clear on the direction: “Becoming the best, the best class in terms of numbers. We have the right product for this region. We have the right partners. We have our GSA Sharaf Travel. We have established an office in Saudi Arabia.

“The reason why we will be the best is because of the variety of destination we are offering, and also because we are offering a product that is international.”

EXPLORA I will be in the Mediterranean until early December 2024 and EXPLORA II will embark on her maiden journey from Barcelona to Civitavecchia (Rome) on August 11, 2024, and sail in the Mediterranean until November before sailing the Caribbean. 



Explora Journeys, the luxury lifestyle brand of the MSC Group, and ITL World, a top travel management company in the Middle East, have signed a collaborative agreement to provide travellers a cosmopolitan, European luxury experience at sea.

With this partnership, ITL World will leverage its extensive network and expertise in travel management to introduce Explora Journeys’ unique offerings to a broader audience in Saudi Arabia enhancing the luxury ocean travel options available to travellers.

Dr Siddeek Ahmed, Chairman & Managing, ITL World, said: “Our partnership with Explora Journeys underscores our commitment to offering the best in luxury travel to our guests in Saudi Arabia. We are excited to combine our local expertise with Explora Journeys’ exceptional offerings to create unique and memorable travel experiences.”