Our incredible Personal Travel Consultant, Gill Williams, was lucky enough to embark on a 7-night sailing around the UK to Iceland onboard the new Explora I. Here’s what she thought.
After hearing so much about Explora Journeys, an extension of the MSC family, I was lucky enough to get the opportunity to go onboard Explora I! I got to travel around the UK with my husband, Richard, to experience the ‘Ocean State of Mind’ for myself. Pinch me now!
So what is it all about?
We embarked in Greenock, Scotland and I was so excited to be sailing around the Scottish Islands before going up to Reykjavik, Iceland. Embarking was a really smooth process, we were on board within 5 minutes and our cases were taken from us at the entrance which felt very luxurious. As soon as we stepped onboard, we could feel the air of luxury about the ship. We were greeted with a glass of Champagne in the incredibly impressive Lobby Bar before heading off to explore the beautiful ship.
Fabulous for foodies!
Anyone who knows me knows I am a huge foodie and with 9 included dining options, plus the Anthology Concept Restaurant at an extra charge, I was completely in my element.
We were spoilt for choice with the French bistro, Fil Rouge or for a Mediterranean flair, you can opt for the Med Yacht Club. We dined at Sakura one night which was an Asian fusion restaurant and the Crispy Duck Confit was honestly amazing. The steak and seafood restaurant onboard, Marble & Co, was where I had one of the best steaks I have ever had. I would highly recommend dining here. Both Sakura and Marble & Co require reservations, which can be made at the start of your cruise, due to them being smaller venues.
The buffet-style restaurant, The Emporium Marketplace, could rival the Harrods Food Hall! You could see all your food being freshly prepared which was a lovely, luxurious touch and there were so many different options throughout the day. From Wok and Pasta stations to a Grill area and magnificent seafood displays. My favourite had to be the Gelateria and Creperie. Crepes were all freshly made with a wide array of toppings, however, it had to be a traditional lemon and sugar for me!
The theme of exploring and discovery transcends into the shopping experience. Onboard you won’t find any traditional branded shops. They are all unique boutiques which promote and showcase true craftsmanship and lend themselves to the environment and the commitment to the planet, very on brand for Explora Journeys.
DID YOU KNOW
You can buy Rolex watches straight off the shelf onboard Explora I which is practically unheard of in land-based shops! They have a guaranteed stock of Rolex watches meaning you can treat yourself to the max onboard. Sadly, I couldn’t quite convince my husband that I was in need of a new timepiece.
The Journeys Lounge is where you will have your evening show and entertainment. You are entertained by resident artists such as talented guitarists, pianists and singers which were all amazing. We also had an evening with a guest expert which was really informative and interesting. The layout of the lounge made it a really intimate experience and the entertainment was of the highest quality, including performers from the West End.
Bars & Lounges
There are 12 bars and lounges onboard to choose from. I think this is a great amount as it never felt too busy on board. I loved the spacious Lobby Bar where we could enjoy a glass of Moet & Chandon after a busy day. For whisky lovers, the Malt Whiskey Bar was a great venue to sample some of the finest whiskies on board. Richard can highly recommend the Macallan Single Malt! Both of us loved the Astern Lounge too for a pre-dinner tipple.
Another of my favourite lounges was the Explorer Lounge. This was located on deck 11 at the front of the ship so it had spectacular panoramic views, there was also outdoor seating available. We thoroughly enjoyed the afternoon tea here which is served daily at around 4pm. Plus, there is a Steinway Piano which is programmed to play itself which creates a stunningly peaceful atmosphere.
I would have loved to try all of the 12 bars but some were located outside and sailing through the UK means the weather wasn’t great. However, these would have been lovely on a Caribbean sailing to have a drink and watch the world go by.
Panoramic Views from the Pools
There are 4 pools onboard, all of them are heated which is such a treat. The Astern Pool is a beautiful infinity pool surrounded by day beds and a wonderful bar which is the perfect place to relax on a day at sea. Another haven of tranquillity is the Conservatory pool. This is a weather protected pool so it was perfect for our Scottish Isles sailing.
Our Home At Sea
What can I say… Our suite was utter perfection. It was a great size, plus had a walk-in wardrobe and plenty of storage space which is fantastic if you struggle packing light! Our Home at Sea had everything you could possibly want, from a Dyson hairdryer to an impressive coffee machine and luxury amenities.We also had a welcome bottle of Veuve Clicquot, an Illy coffee machine at our disposal and the most luxurious cotton bedding, I couldn’t rave about these suites more!
Spa and Wellbeing
The Ocean Wellness Spa was a true treat. I personally love getting my hair done so I took full advantage of this whilst I was onboard. They have something for everyone, from wonderful facials and massage treatments to beauty and hair appointments too.
Overall, our time on Explora I was truly unforgettable and I would recommend it to everyone. The cruise line is the epitome of luxury whilst still doing everything they can to care for the planet and the oceans. With a service ratio of 1 staff member to every 1.25 guests, we felt really looked after and loved living the luxury lifestyle for this voyage.
For more information about Explora I, call us on 02380 658 386.