British Queen celebrates

The inaugural journey of a new UK cruise ship is looming large, with a 15-night expedition to some of Europe’s most beautiful northern points. A cruise often invokes

images of warm sunshine, palm trees, and soft, white sand, but the first trip by the Explora I ship will be going somewhere a little different. On July 17, from the busy port at Southampton, it will set sail for the fjords and the arctic circle, before disembarking in Copenhagen, Denmark.

The trip, titled A Maiden Journey into Epic Fjords and the Arctic Circle, is 15 days of exploring some of the most beautiful landscapes Scandinavia has to offer, all whilst aboard the luxurious Explora I. It is run by Explora Luxury Cruises, a trusted name in the luxury cruise industry, but even by their standards, their new ship promises to define luxury.

The Explora I boasts 461 ocean front suites, with large floor-to-ceiling windows and spacious walk-in wardrobes to enjoy during your fortnight on board. There are nine different culinary experiences for those who enjoy good food, as well as three outdoor swimming pools, for enjoying a swim in warm water whilst cruising down the fjords. With 700 square metres of wellness facilities, curated retail outlets and even a running track, the Explora I is an exciting new addition to the company fleet.

The arctic circle has long been a destination for cruises, and the popularity of the area is showing no signs of abating. The Norwegian Cruise Line has recently expanded their sales team in Australasia, underlining how attractive the region is, even without the sunshine, and the itinerary on the Explora I’s inaugural journey typifies exactly what a discerning traveller hopes to see on such a trip. It starts gently, with a stop at Zeebrugge and an inevitable trip to Bruges, the beautiful Belgian capital.

From there, it heads to the fjords of Norway, some of which are designated UNESCO World Heritage Sites. Day five of the cruise takes guests to Geirangerfjord, which is surrounded by majestic, snow-covered mountains and home to wild waterfalls, including the Seven Sisters, one of the world’s highest waterfalls. Those with a sense of their inner Viking, fuelled by the popularity created by TV shows such as Vikings, will be delighted with day six, a visit to Trondheim, the one-time Viking capital of Norway.

The journey also takes in Bergen, Skagen and Stavanger, delivering a comprehensive tour of the fjords whilst sitting in the lap of luxury. There’s no doubt, the Explora I is an important addition to the UK cruise industry, and the trip in July will only be the first of many luxury trips it makes around the world.

The cruise industry does, to some degree, need a shot in the arm after the Covid restrictions we saw in 2020. Numbers had crept up from around 1.6m in 2010, to just under two million in 2019. However, 2020 saw just 259,000 make a cruise journey, and despite the lifting regulation, just 479,000 travelled in 2021. Data suggests in 2022, there was some rebound, up to 1.7m, but still down from all years but in 2014 over the last decade.

If you enjoyed this article, be sure to bookmark our homepage here at The London Weekly for more great culture articles, as well as news and comment from around the world.