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The luxury of slow travel

Jasmine Alimin
Jasmine Alimin10/18/2022 01:36 PM GMT+08  • 8 min read
The luxury of slow travel
Explora Journeys will commence its maiden voyage in May 2023
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Now that revenge travelling is almost out of your system, it is time to take it slow for 2023 — the year for luxury cruises. Step on board one of these swanky pleasure crafts to indulge in the ultimate pampering.

Explora Journeys

Explora Journeys is a privately-owned luxury lifestyle brand of the MSC Group — the world’s largest privately-held Swiss-based shipping and logistic conglomerate. The brand stems from the long-held vision of the Aponte-Vago family to redefine the ocean experience for a new generation of discerning luxury travellers. It aspires to create a unique “Ocean State of Mind” by connecting guests with the sea through remarkable itineraries that blend renowned destinations with lesser-travelled ports.

It will launch a fleet of six ships, the first of which — the Explora I, helmed by a female captain — will take its maiden journey in May 2023.

Brought to life by British designer and architect Martin Francis, who has worked on many iconic superyachts, the Explora I is the epitome of luxury with a modern, cosmopolitan, boutique hotel vibe fitted with 461 oceanfront suites, penthouses and residences, all with sweeping ocean views and private terraces. Each room depicts true elegance and sophistication furnished with some of the best Italian and European design furniture such as Molteni&C, along with branded amenities like a Dyson Supersonic hairdryer.

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For some elevated pampering, the superyacht offers a choice of nine distinct culinary experiences, 10 indoor and outdoor bars and lounges, four swimming pools, extensive outdoor decks with private cabanas, wellness facilities, and refined entertainment.

Conscious luxury is reflected in the choice of materials and Explora Journeys’ commitment to sustainability is demonstrated in their dedication to proper waste management and responsible sourcing of materials and eco-friendly details such as refillable bathroom amenities, water fountains everywhere, and no single-use plastic on board and ashore.

In line with MSC’s pledge to reach net-zero greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions in its cruise marine operation by 2050, all six vessels in Explora Journeys’ fleet will be equipped with the latest environmental and marine technologies. They will feature the latest selective catalytic reduction technology that reduces nitrogen oxide emissions by 90% and are fitted with shore power plug-in connectivity to reduce emissions in port and underwater noise management systems to help protect marine life.

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Sales are now open for the Inaugural Journeys Collection for Explora I from May 2023, starting from GBP650 ($1,033) per night. For its first year, the ship will visit 132 ports in 40 different countries, including two destinations, Kastellorizo, Greece and Saint Pierre, Martinique that are rarely visited by cruise ships before. The itineraries include the Mediterranean, Northern Europe, the UK, Iceland, Greenland, Canada, the US East Coast, the Caribbean, South America and Hawaii.

Sailings start from six-night journeys and culminate in an epic 44-night Northern Europe Grand Journey. For more details, visit www.explorajourneys.com.

Norwegian Cruise Line

An innovator in global cruise travel with a 55-year history, Norwegian Cruise Line (NCL) returns to Asia for the 2023–2024 cruise season with the Norwegian Jewel. It follows a 16-day repositioning cruise from Seattle, Washington, to Tokyo, Japan, via the wilds of Alaska. The extensive season offers a vast choice of departure ports in Indonesia, Japan, Malaysia, Singapore, South Korea, Taiwan and Thailand, and four new ports of call in the Philippines and Taiwan.

Whether guests are seeking to couple the culinary delights of Japan with the bright lights of Taipei, or an island exploration of Indonesia, Thailand and Malaysia — visiting jewels such as Langkawi, Lombok and Phuket — NCL’s Asia programme is open-jaw, allowing travellers to book-end their voyage with land explorations in different exotic destinations

On board the Norwegian Jewel, guests can enjoy numerous amenities including action-packed activities at the outdoor sports complex, high-energy Zumba and Flywheel Sports classes, and multiple uniquely themed bars and lounges, including Bliss Ultra Lounge.

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With a guest capacity of 2,376, the Norwegian Jewel offers some of the largest suites at sea with staterooms that accommodate every style and budget. The ship also offers a Haven Deluxe Owner's Suite (pictured) that features the most luxurious, well-appointed accommodations onboard, including a 24-hour butler service. For more information visit www.ncl.com.

Les Bateaux Belmond

Bespoke holiday specialist Belmond adds a new luxury barge to its Les Bateaux Belmond French collection called the ”Coquelicot, A Belmond Boat, Champagne”. From May 2023, Coquelicot will take guests on a week-long cinematic and highly personalised journey of Champagne, as the boat glides along the region’s canals, unveiling exquisite views from a unique vantage point.

Designed by successful French duo, Humbert & Poyet, the Coquelicot sets a new standard of sophistication for slow-paced sailing in France. The vessel boasts an impressive outdoor deck, three double cabins with marble ensuite bathrooms, and an indoor lounge for dining and recharging. The vessel’s top deck will be the jewel in the crown: two seating lounges, an open kitchen and a shaded dining area will offer a choice of spaces for guests to unwind and laze around as they meander the calm waterways.

The spacious barge offers three glamorous cabins with ensuite facilities, an indoor salon with an exceptional champagne bar, and an extensive outdoor deck for relaxing pursuits, sensational dining and sparkling conversations.

Coquelicot will partner Maison Ruinart — the world’s oldest champagne house founded in Reims in 1729 — to treat guests to a four-hands five-course lunch by Ruinart’s chef in-residence Valérie Radou and Coquelicot’s head chef. As part of the collaboration, guests will also discover the brand’s latest sustainability initiatives during private guided tours of the historic Taissy vineyard.

The price of luxury, which starts from EUR82,000 ($114,103) full board, allows the traveller to craft their own itinerary by selecting unique activities from a host of experiences. Whether it is an art-focused tour of Champagne, a historic voyage through the mighty castles, an active adventure on two wheels or a series of epicurean visits to Europe’s most celebrated and most secret wine producers, guests will have the liberty to design their own journey and marvel at the region’s treasures at their own pace. For further information, visit belmond.com.

Uniworld Boutique River Cruises

Luxury river cruise line, Uniworld Boutique River Cruises features distinctively designed ships with an average capacity of 120 guests, exclusive excursions, gourmet cuisine, and one of the highest staff-to-guest-ratio offering superlative hospitality. A member of The Travel Corporation (TTC), Uniworld was most recently named the #1 river cruise line in the world by Travel + Leisure World’s Best Awards 2021.

Based in Los Angeles, California, it offers all-inclusive itineraries in Europe, as well as voyages in Vietnam and Cambodia, India, Peru and Egypt — a total of 18 rivers in 26 countries worldwide. For 2023, it will launch four brand-new itineraries across Europe and beyond, with new land excursions.

The 15-day Grand Central Europe itinerary will cruise along three iconic rivers — the Rhine, Main and Danube — through Switzerland, France, Germany and Austria. Highlights of the trip include climbing the treetops of Bamberg while wandering the Bavarian Forest; and sailing the picturesque Wachau Valley.

The 10-day Zurich & the Rhine River Valley itinerary will sail along the Rhine and Main rivers through Switzerland, France and Germany. Guests will immerse themselves in history and enjoy nature with activities such as a canoe ride through the Mainschleife nature reserve and a day in the lakeside city of Zurich.

A new eight-day Belgian Holiday Markets itinerary will showcase Belgium’s magical Christmas markets and delicious holiday treats at the most festive time of year. A lesser-known holiday market destination, Belgium boasts Christmas towns unlike any other in Europe.

Finally, a 46-night Rivers of the World cruise will depart on May 20, taking guests to nine countries aboard five luxury Super Ships. Combining both cruise and land, itinerary highlights include a visit to the astonishing Unesco-protected temples of Abu Simbel in Cairo; exploring Schönbrunn Palace, the former imperial summer residence during the reign of Maria Theresa in Vienna; experiencing the iconic Moulin Rouge in Paris; and a day in the Portuguese towns of Cacais and Sintra.

For a little extra, guests can partake in new immersive shore excursions as part of Uniworld’s Masterpiece Collection portfolio. They include a visit to the renowned Anne Frank House in Amsterdam, the Black Forest in Germany and a country cooking class on a Bavarian farm. To learn more, visit www.uniworld.com.

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