The title says it all. I’m quite new to cruising and a very active traveler, so when the opportunity arose to sail with Explora Journeys to Scotland and Iceland, I leaped at the chance. Explora is taking travelers farther and deeper into the most beautiful and intriguing places on Earth. This is an enticing duo of ocean journey and immersive land travel for experience-minded travelers like myself.
And so I set sail …
My “Scottish Highlands & Icelandic Geysers” sailing began in Glasgow, where we spent one night. Checking in was a breeze once we stepped out of our hired car and the baggage handlers whisked away our suitcases (which appeared in our suite mere minutes later). Thanks to the cheerful and warm team, the entire process was swift, efficient and capped off with a beautiful glass of Moet presented when we stepped aboard.
I was taken by the intentional design from the start. The expansive, yet intimate spaces of Explora I were both modern and warm. Water is the focal point, with generous outdoor decks and three outdoor pools – the ocean is nearly always within view. Explora has partnered with the world’s foremost superyacht and luxury hospitality designers to achieve this home-like comfort.
Among my favorite touches: the plush settees that invite you to sit and stay awhile, low seating and cocktail tables in Journeys Lounge, and the sleek and fresh tonal choices for the Explora Lounge, Malt cigar lounge, and outdoor cabanas – driving home the “hotel at sea” feel.
Our Ocean Terrace Suite was a vision in calming tones with artful touches throughout. I especially appreciated the Dyson hair dryers, ample closet space, and an inviting private terrace. Oversized floor-to-ceiling windows bathed the 377-square-foot suite in natural light.
Every single guest on Explora I is welcomed with a bottle of champagne (starting with Veuve Clicquot Yellow Label for the Ocean Terrace Suite category). Additional suite amenities included a private mini-bar, replenished according to our preferences, an espresso machine, a kettle and teapot with complimentary coffee and tea, a complimentary personal refillable water bottle, and a pair of binoculars for use during our voyage. A Technogym Case Kit is available upon request so you can keep up on your fitness regime in the privacy of your suite.
Decadent Dining (Even for Vegetarians)
I’m not sure what I was worried about before sailing: Will there be enough options for vegetarians? Will I tire of the food? No fretting necessary – the culinary offerings are truly fantastic.
- The Marketplace Emporium: Casual with endless options, including pasta, pizzas, sushi, a daily rotisserie, a fromagerie, acai bowls, smoothies, and boulangerie and patisserie stations.
- The Med Yacht Club: Great vibe and Mediterranean-focused menu highlighting the tastes of Italy, Spain, Greece, France, and North Africa while incorporating plant-based, vegetarian, and wholesome ingredients.
- Fil Rouge: Ideal for an intimate meal of French-inspired international cuisine (don’t miss the elegant dessert cart).
- Marble & Co. Grill: European-style steakhouse serving exceptional cuts, personally sourced and sustainably farmed. Reservations recommended.
- Sakura: A beautiful space inspired by Kyoto’s ancient tea rooms, with Japanese, Thai, Vietnamese, and Malayasian cuisine. Reservations recommended.
- Anthology: Showcases new chefs every few months for a global culinary journey paired with renowned wines.
Much of life on a cruise is lived onboard and Explora Journeys didn’t disappoint in terms of options of things to do. I particularly enjoyed the programming at the Astern Lounge. Smaller live music sets, intimate interviews with artists, and more one-on-one engagement with the audience made this venue ideal for my personal style. These regionally influenced sessions felt exclusive and original – the addition of Hanna Mia, an Icelandic songwriter and singer, on board was quite fun.
Journeys Lounge had a variety of nightly performances, as well, including a swing night, an evening of Swedish-related music, and more.
Do not miss the lovely spa, an excellent use of an onboard credit. Amenities include heated marble loungers (incredible!), a steam room, a hydrotherapy pool, a Finnish sauna, a salt cave, and more.
In addition to the Technogym equipment available for use in your suite, the fitness center provides top-notch gear, including two Reformer machines and a wonderful setting for yoga and sound baths or meditation.
Recognizing the thirst for activity many savvy cruisers have, Explora has curated a catalog of immersive Destination Experiences. Their incredible offerings are broken down into several categories, to dial in your encounter to your perfect settings.
Beyond Boundaries might have you dining on oysters and sipping chilled champagne during a private picnic on a remote rocky island in Sweden, or discovering the denizens of the deep in a U-boat submarine.
Tailored Experiences could include swooping over glaciers and even setting down on one in a helicopter. In what Explora calls the “travel equivalent of haute couture,” these bespoke activities are adapted to a featured destination.
On an Enchanting Exploration, watch humpbacks from a whirlpool in Trømso, gain exclusive access to the Royal Swedish Opera, visit the Museum of Modern Art in Manhattan after-hours, or go snorkeling in the pristine Cousteau Reserve in Guadeloupe.
In my case, during my Scotland and Iceland Ocean Journey, we were treated to two experiences in the Faroe Islands. First, a walking tour in Torshavn, the Faroe Islands’ colorful capital city, and a hike to Leitisvatn, a “floating lake” on Vágar Island.
Come Sail Away
One of the best things I can say about Explora Journeys is that I cannot wait to experience more. Their intentional style of luxe active cruising speaks to my own travel personality. From the full aesthetic to the culinary choices to the variety of programming, it was evident that an investment into the guest satisfaction has been significant. I’d love to set you up on an Explora Ocean Journey and hear your own reflections when you return home!