EXPLORA I’s Maritime Panache

Sailing through the Caribbean aboard Explora Journey’s new EXPLORA I was singularly enjoyable, thanks to thoughtful contemporary design in the interior spaces and emphasis on culinary excellence in every dining venue. This is not a personal yacht, but the accommodations, service, and food all met the same standard of luxury, and the ship offers a relaxing and lively setting for any ocean journey.

The six dining venues boast international flair. Sakura delights with Pan-Asian dishes, while The Marble & Co. Grill relies on simple design, soft lighting, great service, and superior cuts of meat. Dining at the Med Yacht Club is like dining at a beachside bistro in the Mediterranean, while The Fil Rouge has a classic menu focused on flavors of France. The Emporium Marketplace features casual eats from around the world. And Anthology, which only seats 40 has menus curated by guest chefs intended to showcase international dishes in an intimate setting.

Cooking class aboard EXPLORA I

The Chef’s Kitchen is a little different. This private dining venue also serves as a gastronomic classroom. Culinary experts here taught us how to cook with local ingredients … and how to best enjoy our dishes by pairing them with outstanding fine wines.

Dining in is always an option, ordering stateroom service from the 24-hour menu. The rooms are so comfortable — EXPLORA I has 461 oceanfront suites, penthouses, and residences  — that you might find this more of a temptation than you expect! Our suite was appointed with luxury items like Dyson hair dryers, Frette linens, Smart TV, Wi-Fi, and attentive butler and concierge service.  Sitting out on the terrace, we felt a little like celebrities.

Franck Garanger Head of Culinary Explora Journeys

Simply strolling around the ship was also a pleasant way to spend a sea day, calling on poolside bars, a gelateria and a creperie. Pop into the Crema Café, open all day, for a cup brewed from select international beans. Malt, the ship’s whisky bar, had space for cigar connoisseurs to relax on an outdoor terrace while sampling the stogies from an impressive walk-in humidor. The bar itself is like a miniature tour of the world’s top distilling traditions, offering sips of dark-brown spirits from craft distillers in Scotland or Canada, and even as far afield as India or Japan.

There are actually more than 10 bars and lounges on EXPLORA I. The largest, Journeys Lounge, seats 210 and serves as a stage for cabaret shows and enrichment activities like guest speakers who share wisdom on various topics and mixology demonstrations, which offer a different kind of cultural education. 

Shops in The Journey area are stocked with locally crafted items and familiar designer brands (think Cartier, Piaget, and Panerai) as well as the first Rolex boutique at sea. 

If you’re more soothed by physical therapy than the retail variety, The Spa is a place of well-being. You can relax, refresh, and heal your body and soul with professional treatments. The fitness center has Technogym equipment, YogaMaster, and, better than any machine, a team of personal trainers.

This line has as many destinations as it has onboard amenities and puts effort into helping guests really appreciate a port of call. You can explore the cultures of different places with an immersive excursion program. Go kayaking in the St. Lawrence River, taste caviar in the Bay of Fundy, visit an indigenous village in Colombia, or hike down an Arctic trail in Greenland. Every EXPLORA I shoreside experience is a different adventure.

One voyage on board was enough for me to learn that this is my kind of cruise: elegant with something special to remember about every moment.

Bill Panoff is the founder and Editor-in-Chief of Porthole Cruise and Travel magazine. A former cruise industry entertainer and cruise director, Bill spent decades at sea and is one of the world's foremost experts on all things cruise and travel.