HomeCruise NewsThe Verdict on the Culinary & Beverage Philosophy of Explora Journeys

The Verdict on the Culinary & Beverage Philosophy of Explora Journeys

ITTN’s Shane Cullen is onboard Explora I, MSC’s newest ship and part of her latest brand – Explora Journeys. Exceeding expectations the consensus is excellent from everyone I’ve encountered. This is ultra-luxury with a culinary and beverage offering living up to the brand ideology.

Culinary & Beverage Philosophy

MSC has detailed their philosophy when it comes to dining and beverages as: “A celebration of global talents and cultures, the gastronomic and beverage riches aboard Explora Journeys take their influences from across the globe, bringing personality, sophistication, and a dash of soul to the culinary experience at sea, whether in one of the elegant restaurants, bars and lounges, by a pool or on a private terrace.”

Let’s Begin in the Bedroom

All guests are welcomed with a bottle of champagne and a bottle of spirits (guests’ choice) upon arrival. There is also an impressive In-Suite Dining serving antipasti platters, jumbo shrimp, Black Angus beef filet, salmon, sandwiches, cheese platters and more. This is available 24 hours a day.

Moving to the Kitchen

Chef’s Kitchen offers an immersive experience for 12 guests. Explora Journeys’ culinary experts guide guests through a cooking class to discover new ingredients, flavours, textures and cultures (The Chef’s Kitchen cooking classes have a surcharge).

Culinary Experiences

Emporium Marketplace, Sakura, Marble & Co. Grill, Med Yacht Club, Fil Rouge, Crema Café, Gelateria & Creperie at The Conservatory, Explora Lounge and In-Suite Dining make up the nine distinct culinary experiences that are included. Here’s a quick run-through:

Sakura (lunch & dinner)

Sakura offers Japanese, Thai, Vietnamese, and Malaysian flavours for a taste of Pan-Asian cuisine. Lunch here was exceptional and while I wouldn’t usually opt for sushi, the tastes and flavours were outstanding.

Marble & Co. Grill (dinner)

Marble & Co. Grill is a European steakhouse experience. Inspired by the marbling found in only the finest beef, Marble & Co. Grill serves exceptional cuts, personally sourced and sustainably farmed. Rib-eye steak was on the menu and as a personal favourite, it was my first choice. It was beautifully aged and seasoned with my starter and dessert stealing the show.

Med Yacht Club (lunch & dinner)

Here offers a relaxed celebration of the flavours ambience and dolce vita of the Mediterranean. This infuses tastes and textures of Italy, Spain, Greece, France, and North Africa – while incorporating plant-based, vegetarian and wholesome ingredients – the menu of Med Yacht Club serves sharing plates for guests to enjoy together. A collective high recommendation from the Irish travel trade and me. Tapas started the experience with each course taster than the last.

Emporium Marketplace (all-day dining)

Emporium Marketplace greets you with a champagne station. This is not a buffet as such. Guests approach various stations where chefs prepare dishes such as sushi, fresh seafood and a daily rotisserie offering grilled, roasted, and slow-cooked meats. Pasta is cooked to order, and freshly baked pizzas and bread are on offer as are home-made sandwiches. The charcuterie, fromagerie, boulangerie and patisserie stations enhance the experience. Fresh juices, smoothies and acai bowls are provided during breakfast.

Dishes are platted making this a delight. For lunch, I opted for a very tasty pizza and also fresh ravioli. Staff serve beverages to order. Each dish is plated for you by a chef which gives an elevated experience to an average buffet but also serves to reduce food waste.

Fil Rouge (breakfast & dinner)

Fil Rouge is a sophisticated and intimate restaurant, offering a global tasting tour of French-inspired international cuisine. An elegant dessert cart tempts with the freshest creations served tableside, and the wine selection showcases the best of both the Old and New World vineyards.

Anthology (dinner – surcharge applies)

World-renowned chef, Mauro Uliassi is the master behind his three-Michelin-star restaurant in Senigallia in Italy. His restaurant was ranked 12th at The World’s 50 Best Restaurants 2022 winning the Highest New Entry Award 2022.

He has curated the menu for Anthology, inspired by the Italian Adriatic Coast and coupled with his passion for innovation and the flavours of the sea.

Currently on offer is a culinary experience consisting of an 8-course Tasting Menu by Chef Mauro Uliassi for €190 per person with wine pairing at €75.

Lounging About in Luxury

There are more than 10 indoor and outdoor bars and lounges onboard. Also on offer are cocktail-making masterclasses (happily volunteer as a taste-tester!); “Meet the Winemaker” events onboard and themed destination experiences onshore.

Beverages at the Ready

The Lobby Bar is located in the heart of the ship, lounge with a beverage and people watch or enjoy the high-end boutiques lined on either side (there is even a Rolex store).

Explora & Journeys Lounges plus a Malt Whiskey Bar

Explora Lounge overs 270-degree views of the sea with indoor and outdoor seating serving light meals, snacks and traditional afternoon tea by day. This transforms into a jazz and piano bar at night.

For something more intimate, the Malt Whisky Bar offers a tour of the global whiskey regions. There is even a cigar expert and outdoor smoking terrace. For lively stage entertainment,

Journeys Lounge sets the scene and serves cocktails from mixology specialists. This is also the location for the “Evening by Candlelight” with live entertainment in an exuberant theatre.

Crema Café (all day)

Crema Café offers uninterrupted views of the sea, reading material and skilled baristas to serve coffee with tea and juices are also available alongside pastries, desserts, gelato and navette sandwiches (which are mini-sandwiches – I looked it up!).

Pools & Panoramic Views

Astern Lounge opens up to the Astern Pool with an outdoor bar, couches, cabanas and an infinity pool ready to greet guests. Here, in warmer weather (today it’s lashing rain), I would happily lounger poolside soaking up the sunshine and listening to acoustic musicians play a melodic set.

Also offering poolside beverages is the Atoll Pool & Bar, an intimate pool with sunbeds and lounge chairs and a serene view of the sea and the Helios Pool & Bar is an adults-only pool and lounge with panoramic views.

Sky Bar on the top deck, Deck 14, has a luxury lounge setting, spectacular views and terrific cocktails.

In cooler weather, The Conservatory Pool & Bar has a retractable roof protecting guests from the elements. Lounge poolside by day with beverages of your choice ready and waiting or by night, enjoy a cinema experience under the stars. Many thanks to Paul & Brian for posing poolside!

From Coffees to Cocktails

Beverages are included as part of the package offering – unlimited beverages, fine wines and premium spirits are included as well as speciality coffees, tea and soft drinks available anytime including in-suite mini-bar. It is worth mentioning, gratuities are also included as is onboard wifi throughout the ship.

Should fine wine and spirits connoisseurs wish to “elevate their experience” there is an ultra-exquisite selection of wines, spirits and liqueurs available for an additional fee.

Wines Reflect the Region

Throughout the year, wine selections onboard Explora I will reflect the regional areas where the ship sails while offering favourite grape varietals including French Chenin Blanc, Pinot Grigio, New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc, Australian Shiraz, and Nebbiolo. Sommeliers are tasked with constantly sourcing boutique wine labels to build an inspiring menu with interesting choices and very rare bottles.

Outstanding Service

The service onboard is exceptional. Employees are from 36 nationalities with a 50:50 split male/female ratio on the front line & in leadership roles. 43% have experience in the cruise industry (my Maitre D’ hailed from Oceania), 25% transferred from within the MSC Family with 43% from the luxury market (my mixologist had previously worked at Fairmount, The Palm in Dubai).

For More & Stay Tuned to ITTN

Stay tuned to ITTN for more coverage of the 3-night fam trip onboard MSC’s new Explora Journeys ship, the Explora I including cabins and destinations. Also, ITTN has an exclusive interview with Antonio Paradiso.

Shane Cullen
Shane Cullen
Shane Cullen has been managing director of a media production studio for nearly 20 years working on projects for a global clientele. He has worked in the travel industry for over a decade and as a travel journalist since 2015. He is passionate about travel, film & photography. He also has a keen interest in emerging technology.

Must Read