Explora Journeys: A Class Operation + Pricing News
As you know, I have been impressed with Explora Journeys from the day I was contacted by Chris Austin, its Chief Sales Officer, right after he left Seabourn. He long had a vision and approach, not just of bringing the concept of having a resort/home at sea, but of finding criticisms constructive rather than an excuse for conflict, and of being focused on the customer experience from even before initial contact.
Fortunately, Explora Journey’s President, Michael Ungerer, and even more importantly, the Aponte family – who own Explora Journeys – are the ones who are at the fore of this truly exciting and refreshing approach. I recommend you read About Explora Journeys
Explora Journeys has, as sort of its mantra, two ethos:
“We believe in the Art of Listening”
“Our goal is not the maximize occupancy, but to Optimize the Guest Experience”
That sounds all well and good, but the question is whether Explora Journeys actually conducts business that way. I am pleased to report that it does…and actually at levels that I have never experienced in my two decades in the travel business.
Recently, due to Explora Journeys making modifications to Explora I so that is even better and more consistent with Explora II (also under construction), the maiden voyage of Explora I has been delayed from May 23 to July 17, 2023.
It announced the short delay (and it is a short one) because Explora Journeys wants (needs) to get it right, not rush to get it done. Doing the latter, history shows, is a fool’s errand and winds up with guest frustration and, if it goes on long enough, guest resentment. (The Ritz-Carlton and Seabourn Venture delays and the manner of handling them speak loudly as how not to do it.)
So with the goal of Optimizing the Guest Experience:
Explora Journeys announced the delay over seven months…not weeks…in advance, so guests have time to address the cancelations and make alternative plans. Explora also made sure there weren’t more of disappointed guests booking what it knew would be canceled journeys.
All guest deposits were immediately refunded (no games with it taking weeks to process or offering future cruise credits + a bonus so that guests felt trapped/obligated into booking another Explora journey.)
Incredibly, each guest was given a Future Journey Credit for the full value of the canceled journey. That’s right, not the value of the already refunded deposits, but of the entire journey!
The travel advisors were also protected. Explora believes they did their job and are entitled to be compensated for it…rather than being forced into an unwelcome sort of partnership sharing the losses.
As you may know, I had my original Goldring Travel 2023 Culinary & Cultural Journey on Explora I and it was on one of the canceled journeys. (The new one is also on Explora I combined with its July 17, 2023 Inaugural journey.) My clients were blown away by receiving their refunds so quickly; especially after some had endured the delays and ploys of other some lines.
But when Explora Journeys came through with the full-value Future Journey Credits, my clients were beyond ecstatic; “disbelief” is the more appropriate phrase!
Explora Journeys, considering the cost of building a cruise line from the ground up combined with the cost of developing a loyal guest base and a loyal travel agent base, is clearly looking at its long-term future; not how to squeeze a relative few dollars in search of a short-term gain. That is refreshing!
Regardless, I do want to manage expectations. I am sure, in this imperfect world, Explora Journeys is not perfect; I just am not sure where those imperfections lay or how Explora will respond; though I am optimistic.
But, so far, things are looking very good.
Price Increases are Coming Soon
Explora Journeys came out to the market with some pretty aggressive pricing; some of it be way below what I believe is the market for the suites and onboard product it is offering.
However, those days are quickly coming to an end. There isn’t going to be any Black Friday sale, but rather a price increase, in late November 2022. So, if you are considering an Explora Journey, NOWis definitely the time to take a good look and book your journey.
Interested in a Cruise, Expedition or Land Journey?