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Explora Journeys’ Approach to the Onboard Retail Experience: “If You Build It They Will Come”

As we get closer to the Maiden Voyage of Explora Journeys’ Explora I and we become less about whether the ship will be built and what is in it, the emotional aspects of the company, beyond “An Ocean State of Mind” has come to the fore.

In my last article, I spoke at some length about Explora Journeys’ commitment to the natural environment and the ship itself: Explora Journeys’ Explora I – The First Step in Truly Redefining “Luxury at Sea”. In that article, I began a discussion of how a 900-guest ship will provide a true luxury experience.  In that regard, here is some perspective as to the size and number of guests:

  • Viking Saturn (now on her Maiden Voyage) – 47,800 gross tons/930 guests
  • Oceania Riviera – 66,094 gross tons/1,238 guests
  • Explora I – 63,900 gross tons/900 guests.

Explora I is 33% larger than Viking Saturn for the same number of guests (plus more dining, lounge, bar, pool, etc. amenities for them)
Explora I carries 27% few guests than Oceania Riviera in the same amount of space (plus has more dining, lounge, bar, pool, and amenities for them.)  In other words, Size Matters…especially how you use it!

Speaking of how to use all that 30% additional space, a few days ago I sat in on a private presentation on some of Explora I’s Retail Offerings.  It was, for me, quite remarkable, as it explained how Explora Journeys’ owners are similarly invested in supporting small, international, companies that provide unique and surprising products that are focused on environmental responsibility…while catering to the guest’s emotions and desires.

In fact, Explora Journeys hasn’t rented out the retail space as most lines do. Instead, the retail operation is being run in-house by Explora Journeys.  And that has allowed for a truly unique experience from the space to the brands to the items offered. So, focus is not on having the typical jewelry, cosmetics, and brand name accessories mix of shops, but rather to create a shopping experience with five different elements.

Explora Journeys has invested a very significant amount of time and money literally curating everything that will be offered onboard.  The first part was the easy part: If the brand is offered on any other ship, it will not be offered on Explora Journeys’ ships. It must be unique.  Now, does that mean there won’t be luxury brands that you know? To the contrary – and I can’t say which well-known luxury brands will be onboard just yet – they will be there; and they are impressive!

Another unique aspect of the retail experience is that every shop will have views out to the ocean, so that you have an open feeling and not like you are trapped in a shop. This is a subtle way to keep your Ocean State of Mind relaxing and better enjoying the experience.  In the CGI image below you can see the window

Another interesting approach to the shopping experience is that the layouts will change regularly, so you aren’t feeling like, “I was just in there, so why go in again?” This is accomplished with walls and displays that can be moved and modified. (I am hoping I can get a glimpse of how this is done during my time onboard this July.) 
Explora I’s Retail Changing Floor Plans
For me, however, what is most exciting are the “other” brands – brands that you probably have never heard of – that that will be the cornerstone of the Explora Journeys’ retail experience. Not only because they aren’t relegated to standard, fashion-boring, dresses, etc. that you expect to find in a cruise ship – brands and styles that offend no one and will probably never be worn after the cruise – but – remembering with Explora Journeys you are on going to be in your residence at sea – items that are created with an emotional back story and with a level of quality and style that are intended to excite your “Ocean State of Mind”.

For example, pink maharani started out “as an experiment to source the finest handwoven cashmere (pashminas) from its root source in conflict plagued Kashmir” and they now work with “50+ artisans we work with across India, Peru, Bhutan, Nepal, Cambodia” and with the philosophy of “Being Kind”, “Unconditional Giving” and such. A quick peek at the quality and creativity of their offering quickly shows this retailer is about incredibly high quality and creativity, not just ethical standards. Another example is Fueguia 1833, which it explains itself to be “a tribute to the indigenous communities of South America, guardians of the aromatic and medicinal plants of their lands, and an ode to their preservation“. Conde Nast Traveler recently visited Fueguia 1833 and wrote this.

As a final example – and there were over two dozen curated brands that were announced – is Waimari, a Barranquilla, Colombia company creating only sustainable handmade resort wear using traditional techniques.  Its styles are, apparently, worn by the likes of Jennifer Lopez and a variety of models. While I am sure more traditional clothing will be offered, it is refreshing that there is no single “target market”; something that I know is extremely frustrating for a number of guests.

Of course, there will be jewelry, watches, etc. – with purveyors that will definitely impress – but also an impressive collection of some of the finest Food and Drinks,  such as some very impressive chocolates and items that will allow you to bring home a few of the culinary wonders you will experience onboard Explora I and II. 

Speaking of bringing a bit of Explora Journeys home with you – other than amazing memories – there will be unique Explora Journeys items, created in limited editions. I have complained for years that quality items unique to the brand and ship are so desired by guests, but because the retail space is usually simply rented out, they just aren’t provided.

By the way, if you need things like toothpaste…the selection is curated too!

I find this sort of shopping experience…even before the amazing known luxury brands are announced…to be truly unique in ocean travel (remember, on Explora Journeys you are on a “journey”, not a cruise”).  It is, alas, sort of a “Field of Dreams” for an onboard shopping experience.  

Explora Journeys has built it…and now you will hopefully come!

Interested in a Luxury Journey by Cruise, Expedition, or Land?

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