4/1/2024     by Guest Contributor

Sailing On Board the Brand-New EXPLORA I Cruise Ship

As a travel professional who has been following the emergence of Explora Journeys closely, I was beyond excited when I got the invitation to sail on the brand-new EXPLORA I. I was able to explore the ship first-hand and see for myself what makes the brand stand out among the rest of its competitors in the luxury cruise space. Since my mom has been on many other luxury cruise lines, I thought she'd be the perfect guest to help see how their new product compares to others. Here is our experience.

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ARRIVING

My mom and I flew in from LA and Chicago and met up in Bridgetown, Barbados, the starting point for our 7-day journey in the Caribbean. Having stayed the night before at a hotel and then having the ability to make our way leisurely over to the port on the day of departure was definitely the way to go. It is possible to fly in the day of, but if you have to make a connecting flight in the U.S. or Canada (Toronto for me and Miami for my mom), the best option is to arrive the day before because there is only one flight that arrives in Bridgetown in the afternoon and the ship departs in the evening. It leaves little room for anything to go wrong with delays, customs and such. And from our experience, a cruise ship will not wait, and the stress of trying to get over to another island to catch the boat is something you don’t want to have to deal with! That being said, we got over to the port with plenty of time to spare, and we were met by very friendly and helpful Explora staff members who made the whole embarkation process a breeze.

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EXPLORA I
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Lobby Bar
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Cheers on deck

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FIRST IMPRESSIONS

From the moment we approached the dock and saw the EXPLORA I up close to stepping on board for the first time, it was clear that the designers wanted to make this ship a true work of art. It definitely has a wow factor — the interior is beautifully decorated with European touches, and there is lots of space throughout the boat to meander and not feel crowded. The Lobby Bar, located in the center of the ship, is especially gorgeous — the perfect place to meet up for a cocktail (or two!) before or after dinner. 

Our room, the Ocean Terrace Suite, which is the leading room category on the ship, really did feel like a suite and is quite spacious — at 377 square feet, it’s one of the largest in the category. All suites are ocean-front with tons of storage space and a nice private terrace. We were very happy that our suite had a lot of great features and amenities that you might see in some of the higher room categories on other ships, including an espresso machine, kettle and tea pot, a walk-in closet with a seated vanity area, a Dyson hairdryer and more. In addition, we loved that we were presented with a welcome bottle of Champagne in our room, something I haven’t encountered or heard of before on other luxury cruise ships. For every room to receive an entire bottle and not just a glass makes for a very memorable and appreciated first impression.

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A NEW ERA OF OCEAN LUXURY

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Mom having breakfast at the Crema Café

CULINARY EXPERIENCES

While on board, my mom and I were very excited to try out the various restaurant options, and we were delighted to discover that the food quality overall is superb. My mom, who has been on 100+ cruises in the luxury segment, can truly attest to what’s good and not so good, so I was glad to have her with me to give her honest opinion. While we did not have a chance to eat at Anthology, which is the only one with a set experience fee, we went to the rest of the culinary venues, all of which are included with unlimited (fine) beverages in the fare. From the Pan-Asian dining at Sakura to the Mediterranean flavors at the Med Yacht Club, there are many cuisines to choose from.

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The Emporium Marketplace, which served made-to-order food throughout the day, was our go-to when we wanted to try a bit of everything. Our favorite place to indulge on wonderfully made, Parisian-like pastries and coffee was at the Crema Café — whether it was for breakfast or an afternoon pick-me-up, it was our preferred spot to relax in a casual atmosphere. In-suite dining is another choice offered, and this is something we had a few times and would do again.

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Sakura Restaurant
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Authentic homemade pasta at Med Yacht Club
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Enjoying dinner at Marble & Co. Grill

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SERVICE

What made our experience with Explora Journeys really stand out was not only the food but also the service. As soon as we stepped onto the ship, we could tell that all the staff was genuinely happy to serve the guests. Every person we met was so warm and welcoming with a truly positive demeanor, and it definitely showed. I’d like to give a special call-out to our suite host who was attentive and fabulous, ensuring that all of our requests were taken care of each day. In addition, the Guest Services team was incredibly helpful — not only did they make our daily dinner reservations and store our luggage on the last day, but they also lent me a computer mouse when mine suddenly stopped working. It doesn’t seem like such a big deal, but since I was working, it was a huge time-saver and I was very appreciative.

Since I was on a work trip and had to connect to the internet while at sea, I am incredibly pleased to report that the Wi-Fi is very good and really is hi-speed. I was able to attend Zoom calls without any problem. For those of you who worry about not being able to connect while away, you can rest assured that communication from the ship will remain the same as on land, which is also complementary.

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Always been dreaming about an all-inclusive European cruise experience on board a brand-new luxury liner? Contact our agency right away to plan an exceptional journey on either one of Explora Journey’s two ships setting sail in 2024 and beyond. Once you sail for the first time with Explora Journeys, it’ll leave you wanting more. My mom was in fact so impressed with their suites, food quality/selection and service that she is planning to take my dad on the EXPLORA II next January!

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Astern Pool

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