Speaking in Fort Lauderdale, Explora Journeys CEO Michael Ungerer revealed more about the market strategies behind its brand, which includes an optimization of assets.
With six ships currently on order, the new upscale brand is set to launch service in mid-2023.
Marking MSC Cruises Group’s entrance into the luxury market, the company is building a fleet of six mid-sized ships at the Fincantieri shipyard.
After being adapted to accommodate LNG engines and tanks, two of the upcoming newbuilds had their lengths extended by almost 20 meters. With the additional size, Explora could have added 44 extra staterooms to each vessel, Ungerer said.
“The shipbuilder tried to maximize the ships, thinking about returns. But we said no, it’s not about maximizing, it’s about optimizing,” he added.
Instead, the brand opted to add a smaller number of larger suites, which according to Ungerer, are mostly sold out for the company’s inaugural program.
“It’s really about getting the right people for the right price,” he said.
Debuting this July, the company is set to offer a series of itineraries in Northern Europe before moving the ship to the United States and the Caribbean.
According to Ungerer, current bookings show a balance between guests from Europe and the United States.
“(The guest mix) is quite similar to what we originally envisioned with roughly half being U.S., Anglo-Saxon and half European residents. There’s a high percentage of international guests,” he said.
The average age of the passengers is about 50 years, Ungerer added.
“It’s quite low but to me it’s just a number. People today cannot judge by age anymore. It really doesn’t matter, to be quite frank,” he said.
Explora is, however, seeing a tendency to multi-generational vacation, with parents, grand-parents and children booking cruises together.
“(It’s happening) across all the nationalities, (for itineraries) around the globe. People are craving for being amongst likeminded people and learning something new,” he added.