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Is Explora Journeys the Best Luxury Cruise Line for Your Next Vacation? Here's My Experience and Review

Updated: Jun 26

As a luxury travel advisor, I have the privilege to partake in many different travel experiences. Although I travel often, I am always excited and grateful to travel, whether the destination is near or far. Some trips are just a quick escape that help me reset for the work ahead, and some trips just stick with me. My experience with Explora Journeys was a 5-star experience that has stuck with me, considering that the cruise was in December of 2023, and I am finishing writing this in June of 2024. Keep reading for my Explora Journeys review!


Maybe I should start from the end of the cruise to describe how incredible it was. With a passenger capacity of less than 1000 and 1.25:1 guest to crew ratio, the interaction with the staff is significant. Not only is the ratio amazing, but the crew are also amazing. I was SO SAD to leave them!! They are the most consistently friendly crew I have every encountered. Explora actually calls them "hosts," so I will refer to them as that as we continue. I still remember the smiles and conversations that I had with many of the hosts.

BOOKING

There can be many benefits to booking with a travel advisor, including relying on our experience and expertise. Since Explora Journeys is part of Virtuoso, my clients enjoy €150 EUR Journey Experience Credit per person (limit €300 EUR per stateroom) on all voyages 7-nights or longer. This is an addition to any other promotions, of where there are currently a few! Contact me to find your perfect itinerary: jonathan@pilkingtontravels.com.


EMBARKATION

Back to the beginning of the cruise. While many cruise lines require multiple lines and waiting in rooms before your boarding group is called, Explora Journeys hosts welcome you at a table where you do all of the necessary steps for checking in. Then, after the very painless process, you walk onto the ship, where you are greeted by a very friendly person with a tray of champagne (real champagne--not some cheap "sparkling wine")! The only thing about this is that it was unclear what to do after taking the champagne (other than to drink it). The embarkation area was a lounge area near the lobby bar, and a lot of people were just sitting in the seats there. That's all fine and good, but it wasn't clear whether we were welcome to fully explore the ship. Savage that I am, I enjoyed my champagne and quickly realized that we were not in a holding area. In fact, I went to my suite to check it out...



SUITE

Oh my goodness, this was a wonderful place. I love it when people want the fanciest room in a hotel or stateroom on a ship, but I also love it when I can advise people to not spend the most money. I was stying in the "lead-in" category in Explora I, which was absolutely wonderful. As I was in the most "basic" cabin, let me tell you about it. First of all, it is very spacious, with plenty of storage space, there is a walk-in closet (FOR REAL), the bathroom has heated floors and a rainfall shower, the bed is wonderful, not to mention the sofa and the amazing balcony, which they call a terrace. It is so nice to have a comfortable space that you can make your home for a 10-day cruise (or however long your itinerary is). All cabins also come with welcome treats, AKA more champagne. The house champagne is Moët & Chandon, while the fanciest cabins get Dom Perignon!


PUBLIC SPACES

Before I went on the cruise, I heard that the interior of the ship feels more like a 5-star hotel than a cruise ship, and it's certainly true. People even commented about that on my social media posts. The ship is so luxurious and spacious, and the centerpiece is the Lobby Bar, which is so grand and spectacular. On the lower level, it is surrounded by the shops, which are quite luxurious (a Rolex shop, for example).


There are numerous pools, and it is very nice to have options, depending on weather, your mood, or how busy they are. As someone who typically likes to lounge by a sunny pool with some nice music playing, i was surprised at how much i enjoyed the indoor pool with its retractable roof. Since my sailing was in winter and involved some nasty weather, it was a great option when conditions weren't great outside.


FOOD

The food on Explora Journeys is definitely something to rave about. It was consistently fantastic, whether in the included specialty restaurants or in the Emporium Marketplace, which is a casual food hall type of experience. Unlike some cruise ships, there is not a main dining room. If you want a variety of options and prefer to just pop in and have a meal or snack, the Emporium Marketplace always has excellent options and wonderful service. For example, you can just walk in and have oysters and champagne, or you can have a full meal with steak or fish, sides, dessert, etc!


The other included dining options are Sakura, Marble & Co. Grill, Fil Rouge, Med Yacht Club, and in-suite dining. Sakura is a pan-Asian restaurant, which requires reservations, but if you want to go for sushi, you can sit at the bar and order what you like. Marble & Co. is the steakhouse, which also requires reservations and is top notch! Fil Rouge is French, while Med Yacht Club is Mediterranean, and you can walk in for lunch or dinner. Anthology requires an extra fee and is a multi-course fine dining tasting menu. Explora brings a notable chef to create a menu and experience, which changes from time to time. I did not get to experience Anthology, but I did dine at all of the other restaurants. See photos below and imagine that the food is even better than it looks!


ACTIVITIES

Being a rather sophisticated ship, the activities match the overall vibe. I did yoga every day on the cruise, which was led by an excellent teacher, and he also led a sound bath experience one day. Outside of fitness activities, other things I participated in were a food & wine pairing and tasting. It was pretty wonderful and educational. There were also some very interesting talks onboard. My favorite was led by an author named Craig Stanland, who gave some pretty inspiring talks about his experience with white collar crime, how he got there, and how he got past it. There was also a lady who talked about writing (specifically about writing your own story), which seemed very interesting. I'd say the activities on Explora are a reason to return because it appears that the main speakers will often be different and quite inspiring.


ENTERTAINMENT

As a voice teacher and professional singer (my other life), I can be the most kind and understanding audience but sometimes also the most critical. On my sailing, there were 2 main singers onboard, male and female, which Explora calls "artistes" (in a French sort of way). Regarding their voices, I have no complaints. They are skilled singers and sounded great when they were singing what they were best at. For example, imagine "Proud Mary" (Tina Turner's rendition) sung in a pristine way with a British accent. It just doesn't work, unless it's meant to be a joke. It wasn't a joke, though! The same singer singing classic show tunes was enjoyable. If it had been one song, I wouldn't say anything, but there was a lot of this. Also, I hesitate to criticize someone's style, but considering the luxurious surroundings of the amazing ship, the way the male singer dressed just did not fit the vibe. Sure, musicians are artsy and eccentric, but sometimes we need someone to help us present ourselves professionally.


On the other hand, I felt there were some onboard performers who should have been featured more. There was a lady who played piano and sang in the lobby bar most days. I loved listening to her because she sang songs that were appropriate for her and sang them in an authentic way. There was also a pianist from the band who showed up in the lobby occasionally to play, and he was fantastic!


When I mentioned something about the entertainment to someone who works for Explora, they said that there had been a challenge keeping the entertainers (or "artistes"). I offered to help, because I know there are plenty of amazing singers around the country or world who would love such an opportunity!


SERVICE, EXCURSIONS, DISEMBARKATION, ETC.

Oh wow, service is one area in which Explora excels. The crew onboard (called "hosts" by Explora) were all of the things you would want. They were kind, funny, welcoming, engaging, and good at what they did. In other words, they truly acted like hosts. Whether it was the person in the Emporium or the bartenders at the lobby bar, they were just fantastic. I am usually a bit sad when a cruise is over, but this time it was mainly because of leaving the amazing crew, who felt like new friends. More reason to return and see them again!


It turned out that I only did one excursion, and it was a very fun bike tour in San Juan. The process for joining the tour was simple and stress-free. The day at the private island, Ocean Cay - MSC Marine Reserve, was very lovely. For our other ports, I just took it easy and did some exploring on my own. Getting back on the ship was an easy experience. I liked that Explora always had a tent setup for shade and cold water while waiting to board (or waiting for a tender boat).


Disembarkation was also a painless process. I am a pretty light packer, so I took my own bags off and breezed through to the area to get an Uber to the airport!

If a cruise with Explora Journeys sounds like your style (or vibe), then I would like to help you find the perfect itinerary and assist you with booking shore experiences, as well as flights and pre- and post-cruise hotels, if needed. As a Virtuoso advisor, I always have access to the best rates and promotions, often including "experience credit" (aka onboard credit). Please contact me

to get started!





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2件のコメント


Mike Coleman
Mike Coleman
6月26日

Wow! It was fun reading this ... good information about everything, including the pools and the entertainment ... from an expert cruiser and singer!

いいね!
返信先

Thank you, Mike!

いいね!
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