Explora Journeys has announced Captain Serena Melani as Master of Explora I, set to sail in 2023 as the first ship of MSC’s new luxury brand.
Pierfrancesco Vago, Executive Chairman of the MSC Group’s Cruise Division, said: “It is gratifying to see Captain Melani join our Explora Journeys at this important moment as we get ready for Explora I to take to the seas. She represents all that I and the founding family envisioned for our new luxury lifestyle brand as a disruptive force in our sector that will make it more diverse and inclusive. We look forward to welcoming more experienced women officers to the brand and our overall Cruise Division as it continues to grow and go from strength to strength.”
Michael Ungerer, Chief Executive Officer, Explora Journeys added: “We are delighted to have Captain Melani join us at Explora Journeys leading Explora I in the direction, style, and mindset we have envisioned for our first ship. Explora Journeys provides enriching experiences to explore the world and reach an `Ocean State of Mind.’ Captain Melani will steer our first ship to some remarkable, both` familiar and off the beaten path destinations across the world with her incredible experience as well as her passion for exploration, and respect for the ocean and nature, which reflects our own and, we wish her every success.”
According to a press release, Melani was first drawn to Explora Journeys as it resonated with her personal passion for the ocean, exploration, and discovery; integral elements of the brand’s `Ocean State of Mind` ethos, enabling those travelling across the world to reconnect with what matters most in their lives.
Captain Melani commented: “I was very impressed by the love, respect, and knowledge our owners, the Aponte Vago family, have for the ocean. Their personal involvement and care in each detail of the project, to deliver something truly unique in the market, is inspirational. Growing up on the Tuscan coast in Italy, I am thrilled to be part of a European luxury lifestyle brand and to take the helm of the Explora I, sailing to amazing destinations, some of which have never been reached by cruise ships before.”
Melani’s background led in 2020 to her becoming the world’s first female Captain to bring a cruise ship out of a shipyard. In 2010, Serena, became Bridge Officer with a luxury cruise line and was swiftly promoted to Master in 2016, leading to her becoming their first female Captain and first Italian-born female cruise ship Captain.
She began her studies at the Nautical Technical School in Livorno before gaining experience as Bridge Officer onboard different types of cargo ships. Melani was born and grew up in Livorno, an Italian port city on Tuscany’s coastline which is also a major port for the cruise industry today. Never venturing too far from the ocean, she now splits her time between Italy and her home in Croatia where she lives with her husband.