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EXPLORA I Maiden Voyage, August 2023


Our Advisors’ Thoughts on the Maiden Voyage

Explora Journeys’ first luxury ship, EXPLORA I, recently set sail on her maiden voyage from Copenhagen, Denmark to Reykjavik, Iceland – launching the brand’s new level of cosmopolitan comfort on the open sea. The seven-night journey sailed guests through the majestic landscapes of the Shetland Islands and Kirkwall, Orkney before ending in the Icelandic city, and had several familiar faces on board.

Brownell independent advisors Amy Biondi, Jane Braun, Lou DeLisser, Winn Harris, Jodianne Johnson, and Hayden Miller recently returned from their time aboard the new vessel after experiencing the ship’s ‘Ocean State of Mind’ philosophy. Over the seven-night journey, our advisors explored every aspect of the vessel with the hopes of planning future journeys for their clients. Keep reading for their full thoughts and review of the journey!

The Peaceful Atmosphere

The Peaceful Atmosphere

Explora Journeys created EXPLORA I with the intention to transform guests holistically by giving them an elegant and vibrant experience onboard the ship. Along with the classy, serene feel, our advisors noted how spacious and open the ship felt even with the high volume of guests 

“[I was surprised by] the laid-back luxury yacht feel – cosmopolitan, yes, but relaxed and unpretentious. I felt completely at home.” – Jane Braun 

“The ship is gorgeous with lots of outdoor lounging space to enjoy.” – Amy Biondi 

“The ship was stunning and immaculate – glass and chrome – polished and shiny 24/7. Our rooms were very spacious and the largest lead in category sailing at the moment. Another surprise was that the ship was almost at capacity, yet it felt so open…We could always find enough seating in common areas, pool, outdoor spaces, etc. No space every felt crowded.” – Winn Harris 

Best in Class Amenities

As a brand that is centered around five-star luxury and best-in-class ocean experiences, the EXPLORA I’s offerings did not disappoint. Our advisors had nothing but glowing reviews for the amenities. 

“The outdoor spaces are meticulously designed with 4 pools (one adult only) each with its own bar, multiple intimate lounge areas, pickle ball court, running track & outdoor open air fitness areas. The interior offers the most luxurious spa & wellness center I’ve experienced, a state-of-the-art fitness studio, luxury boutiques and more!” – Lou DeLisser 

“The journey aboard EXPLORA I surpassed my wildest imagination and then some!  It had fabulous restaurants, a gorgeous spa, pools, a fitness center, a pickle ball court, outdoor track, lectures, entertainment, casino … and more.” – Jodianne Johnson 

“The ship has so many well thought out common areas, and this is the perfect ship for warm weather with the multiple pools, lounge areas, athletic areas, and so on.” – Amy Biondi 

“I will say that the spa is one of the best I have every experience in all of my travels. And I’ve seen a few! The level of professionalism was unrivaled. Hands down the most in depth facial I have ever experienced.” – Winn Harris

Top Tier Service

When it comes to firsts, there are always areas of improvement, especially when it comes to service. Yet the service members lived up to the knowledge and expertise associated with the Explora Journeys name. 

“As this was the maiden voyage, I was ready for any hiccups. Yet you would have never known this was their first sailing! It felt as if the staff had been doing this for years. They anticipated our every need, remembered our favorite drinks and were all so eager to get to know each passenger. You could also tell they were happy to be on board and loved their jobs!” – Winn Harris 

“By far the most impressive thing about Explora is the staff and how well trained they are.  Each staff person was amazingly friendly and you could tell they were happy to be there.” – Amy Biondi 

Gourmet Cuisine

Gourmet Cuisine

Say goodbye to what you typically think of when you consider cruise food. With eleven restaurants and bars to choose from, there is a culinary experience for everyone. 

“The sophisticated dining venues each offered a unique culinary experience and the bars and lounges were like the ones you’d find in your favorite boutique hotel.” -Jane Braun 

“The main dining area call Emporium Marketplace was open for every meal and offered a buffet style of sorts (served to you not self-service and cooked to order) and the other restaurants had a specific theme or style of cuisine.  I felt like the variety is something that sets them apart from other ships of the same size.” – Amy Biondi 

“Loved the gourmet food hall!” – Hayden Miller 

Days at Sea

When it came to the itinerary, the stops in the Shetland Islands and Kirkwall were lovely, yet brief. Fortunately, there was much to be explored aboard the ship that the days at sea were the most enjoyable. 

“It was hard to leave the gorgeous vessel! The days at sea were so heavenly that we all wished we’d had more.” – Jodianne Johnson 

“[I was surprised] that I enjoyed days at sea as much as I did! On any given day, you might find me in an early morning yoga class, ‍‍running on the outdoor track, relaxing by the indoor pool, visiting (and revisiting) the Wellness center or sampling the cake at afternoon tea!” – Jane Braun

“I loved all of our stops, although they were brief. The Scottish Isles were lovely, but very small and not a lot of activity on either of them…Surprisingly, the days at sea were some of my favorites. It was so peaceful— I enjoyed the outdoor track, played Mahjongg outdoors, relaxed and just watched the world go by!” – Winn Harris

The Quaint Port Stops

Along with the on-boat activities, our advisors got to explore the ports of Lerwick (the Shetland Islands) and Kirkwall, Orkney. Each stop was unique and offered the quaintness of northern Europe, yet our advisors all concluded they preferred the ship to the ports with Reykjavik, Iceland being the favorite (and final) stop. 

“The ports were unique but I would not do this itinerary again.” – Jodianne Johnson 

“Favorite part of itinerary:  Iceland!  This is where our cruise ended and I extended a couple of days touring with Iceland Encounter.  The scenery, culture, history and food are all amazing.” – Hayden Miller 

“I loved all of our stops, although they were brief. The Scottish Isles were lovely, but very small and not a lot of activity on either of them.” – Winn Harris 

“The Scottish islands were cute but not too much to do.  Yet there was plenty to do on the days at sea!” – Amy Biondi 


The Future of Explora Journeys

Overall, the maiden voyage aboard the first ship from Explora Journeys took ocean experiences above and beyond for our advisors, yet they know the fleet can only improve from here as new ships and itineraries are added to the repertoire. With the maiden voyage in the books, the EXPLORA I is set to sail to Hamburg, Germany from Copenhagen in late August 2023 with future itineraries expected in the Caribbean and Mediterranean.


The next ship in the fleet, EXPLORA II, is currently being built and set to be seaworthy in August 2024. As a Brownell preferred partner, we cannot wait to see what the future holds for Explora Journeys and how our partnership can help our advisors create extraordinary cruising experiences for their clients.