Explora I March Review 2024

April 15, 2024  |  Share:

Setting foot on Explora JourneysExplora I, ready to embark on my first voyage from Bridgetown to Miami, was thrilling. The appeal of the unexplored Caribbean Islands had intrigued my imagination for years, and the chance to sail on a cruise there was an opportunity I couldn’t resist.

Let me take you on a journey through my experiences and all the little details of my cruise. This will give you a sneak peek into what it’s like onboard, especially if you’re considering embarking on your own adventure.

Embarking on Explora I

Our adventure started in Miami, where I saw the magnificent Explora I glowing in the morning sunlight. It stood apart from the rest of the port, exuding pure elegance. Despite the heat, checking in was a breeze, and the friendly welcome with glasses of champagne immediately put us at ease. The ship, our home for the next ten days, promised comfort and luxury that I was eager to experience.

Explora I docked in the sunny Caribbean Islands

Explora Journey’s Explora I in The Caribbean

Day 1: Bridgetown – A Grand Beginning

Feeling incredibly fortunate, I was assigned to a Penthouse Suite (PP grade) featuring an awe-inspiring, expansive balcony. It was the perfect sanctuary to soak in the glorious Caribbean sun while savouring a glass of prosecco on that first day.

Once I settled into my suite and unpacked, I set out to explore the ship and familiarise myself with its various amenities. Many aspects of Explora I were similar to luxury resorts, a comforting familiarity for seasoned cruise guests. Explora Journeys prides itself on providing an experience related to a ‘luxury resort at sea’. The crew are referred to as ‘hosts’, shore excursions are branded as ‘experiences’, and voyages are known as ‘journeys’.

For my first evening, I opted to order room service, where I ordered a Ceaser salad to start, followed by filet steak and chocolate ice cream to finish. Explora I offers guests the choice of dining in six different venues, in contrast to the traditional single main dining room setup.

After dinner, I relished the moment as we sailed away from Bridgetown, enjoying exquisite cocktails on deck while DJ Petrus set the mood. Later, I decided to let my hair loose in the live music at the Astern Lounge, where the theme for the day was ‘A Tribute to The Oldies’. And I must say, this was the perfect start to my cruise.

Exlpora I Deck with Caribbean Sunset in the background

Explora I Top Deck

Day 2: Saint-Pierre, Martinique – Embracing Island Life

After a restful night, I woke up in Saint-Pierre, Martinique, a stunning volcanic island famed for its sugar plantations, premium rum distilleries, and cocoa farms. Excited to kick-start my day, I made my way to the Emporium Marketplace for a light breakfast before joining a lively game of pickleball hosted by the entertainment team. The entertainment team hosts various activities and seminars each morning, ensuring there’s always something new to enjoy.

Following that, I headed to the Conservatory pool and bar, where a retractable glass roof provided the perfect backdrop for unwinding. It was an ideal spot to while away the afternoon with leisurely swims, soaking up the serene ambience.

Later in the evening, I treated myself to some entertainment at the Astern Lounge, relishing once again the vibrant tunes of the 80s. Dinner choices for that night were at Fil Rouge, which is a French-inspired international cuisine. It’s a very intimate yet sophisticated restaurant known for creating timeless dining experiences and is also one of the two open seating restaurants which guests can arrive without making a reservation. I decided to opted for the Caeser Salad, Crab Cake and Slow brasied black angus beef short rib for the main dish, and topped this off with a dark chocolate mousse.

Conservatory pool and bar on Exlpora Journey Explora I

Conservatory pool and bar

Day 3: Basseterre, Saint Kitts and Nevis – Exploring the Charms of the Caribbean

The next day, our adventure led us to the sun-drenched beauty of Basseterre, Saint Kitts, and Nevis—a paradise known for its lush rainforests and lively wildlife. Before leaving the ship, I spent a peaceful moment on my balcony, basking in the morning sunlight. I then went for breakfast at Crema Café before I headed off on my tour guide shore excursion. This café, which is European inspired, had stylish interiors with comfortable lounge seating located on deck five by the main atrium and is a great place to unwind and mingle with other guests. Opening at 6:30 am, you can enjoy sweet breads, fruit, yogurt, and pastries. As the morning progresses, the food counter transitions to offering small cakes and sandwiches until the café closes at 7 pm.

Afterwards, I decided to get off the ship and explore Basseterre. As I strolled through the city’s charming streets, I was fascinated by the pleasant fusion of colonial-era architecture and lively Caribbean culture. After much wandering, I visited Independence Square. This marketplace has become a vibrant hub with shops, cafes, and local vendors. I wandered through the square, taking in the atmosphere and soaking up the sights and sounds of this vibrant Caribbean city.

After a day of exploring, I spent the day unwinding by the pool, enjoying some leisurely relaxation before heading to the Emporium Marketplace for dinner. There is a large selection of food options worldwide, from Indian and Italian to African cuisine which was a ‘buffet’ experience which is open for breakfast, lunch and dinner. I opted for a selection of small pizza’s and burger and chips, which was absolutely delicious. Following that delightful dinner, I wrapped up the evening by attending Cocktails & Keys with Musician Justine, a lovely event hosted in the Explora Lounge.

Explora Lounge on Explora Journey's Explora I

Explora Lounge

Day 4: At Sea – Leisure and Relaxation

During our day at sea en route to Samana, Dominican Republic, I explored the ship in greater depth. The good weather meant I could relax by one of the ship’s many pools for another day. My favourite relaxing spot was the Helios Pool, where I enjoyed unwinding and soaking up the sun.

Another favourite sea-day retreat was the Atoll and Astern pool at the back on decks 5 and 10. Each pool had its own accompanying bar, producing intimate beach club vibes complete with cabanas. The attentive hosts ensured I had the best experience possible by promptly delivering drinks from the bar and providing refreshing cold towels.

Four large whirlpools facing out to sea were also designed to offer relaxation and privacy. This thoughtful layout enhanced my sense of tranquillity during my time at sea.

Following a day of leisure and relaxation, I went to Marble & Co for dinner which requires a reservation. This intimate restaurant requires reservations due to its limited size. Marble & Co is renowned as a European steakhouse, offering a delectable array of dishes exclusively for dinner. From succulent steaks to enticing vegetarian options and indulgent desserts, the restaurant caters to every palate.

I opted for a succulent steak paired with chips and the delightful Eton Mess dessert. After enjoying that delicious meal, I went to the Lobby Bar, a central gathering social lounge and bar perfect for refreshments throughout the day and night. I spent the remainder of the evening sipping cocktails in the Explora Lounge, eagerly anticipating the live show, Piano Serenades, with musician Alberto.

Helios Pool on Explora Journey's Explora I

Helios Pool

Day 5: Samana, Dominican Republic – Savouring Hispanic Influences

After a day at sea, I woke up in Samana, a picturesque province on the northeastern coast of the Dominican Republic, known for its natural beauty and vibrant culture. I started my morning with a cup of coffee and breakfast in the Emporium Marketplace.

Immersing in the vibrant Hispanic culture, I ventured into the nearby Latino towns, taking in their rich traditions and lively atmosphere. Upon returning to the ship, I eagerly joined a Salsa Dance class, an experience I thoroughly enjoyed.

I returned to the Emporium Marketplace for dinner and had another delightful meal. I treated myself to some delicious short-ribbed ravioli, a mouth-watering burger, and chips this time. I’m always impressed by the food here, especially with the many options available.

After dinner, I joined a Trivia Quiz in the Astern Lounge, which was a lot of fun. I soaked in live music before letting my hair down at my first-ever Silent Disco party.

Astern Lounge on Explora Journey's Explora I

Astern Lounge

Day 6: At Sea – Wellness and Dining Delights

I spent my last sea day in the Explora Lounge II, where I participated in some (unhosted) board games before enjoying morning melodies with Musician Jack. After lunch at the Emporium Marketplace, I relaxed by the Stern Pool for a few hours. After a pleasant afternoon by the pool, I went for afternoon tea in the Explora Lounge, which has a spectacular 270-degree view of the ocean and the perfect environment for information drinking and dining.

Later in the evening, I was delighted to dine at Sakura which is one of the two speciality restaurants onboard. With its Japanese-inspired decor and diverse pan-Asian and sushi menu, Sakura offers a delightful lunch and dinner experience. Its outdoor dining area also provides the perfect setting for a meal while sailing around the Caribbean.

Reservations are usually necessary, but if you haven’t made one ahead of time, you may still be able to snag seats at the sushi bar. This is a great alternative, as it provides a front-row view of the chefs in action and the opportunity to sample their recommendations. On this occasion, I opted for a selection of sushi and gyozas with two different beef dishes, sirloin teriyaki and beef penang.

After that exquisite meal, my evening was filled with various entertainment options. First, I attended ‘Songbirds,’ featuring piano and vocals with Nicole. Later, I enjoyed some Pop Music entertainment, followed by the Shining Star karaoke event.

Sakura Restaurant on Explora I

Sakura Restaurant

Day 7: Ocean Cay – MSC Marine Reserve – Bahamas – Sustainable Serenity

On my last day, I woke up to a magnificent view of Ocean Cay, also known as a serene Bahamian dream. MSC Cruises owns Ocean Cay, and like Explora Journeys, sustainability is at the heart of every voyage. I was greeted at Galleria D’Arte on Deck 5, where I learned more.

Afterwards, I opted to explore the island. I headed to Lighthouse Bay, a bustling beach offering stunning views of the Lighthouse. Climbing to the top of the Lighthouse, I was treated to an incredible panorama of Ocean Cay. Later, I went to the Lighthouse Bar for a few cocktails before wandering through the Ocean Cay village, which boasted numerous charming souvenir shops.

After a day of soaking up the sun on Ocean Cay, I returned to the ship to relax before indulging in dinner at the Mediterranean Yacht Club. Despite its size, the restaurant had a cosy atmosphere, with various menus and attentive service that hit the perfect pace. Drawing inspiration from France, Greece, Spain, Italy, and North Africa, the cuisine featured plant-based and vegetarian ingredients for a delightful culinary journey. In addition to the usual starters and main courses, Mediterranean Yacht Club offer a tapas-style menu meant for sharing among the table. I decided to try the lamb shank, a sharing platter of mezzo and pesto gnocchi. I have to say; it quickly became my favourite dining spot onboard. It was a nice way to end my time on the ship.

Lighthouse Bay in Ocean Cay

Lighthouse Bay, Ocean Cay

Find out more

To learn more about cruising with Explora Journeys or to receive a quotation for an upcoming voyage, call 0800 008 6677 or submit an online enquiry.

If you have any questions or comments, leave them below or contact me directly by emailing jess@cruiseline.co.uk.

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