The maiden voyage of Explora Journeys’ first ship from Southampton next week has been cancelled amid an issue with materials used on the vessel.
The MSC Group luxury offshoot disclosed that it was only recently made aware before the delivery of Explora I “of an issue that some materials used on the ship did not meet the required safety certifications”.
The ship’s first sailing has now been put back from July 17 to August 1 from Copenhagen instead of the UK south coast port.
The company said: “As the safety of our guests and crew is of the utmost priority we took the immediate and responsible decision not to take delivery, even though this meant that we had to cancel the ship`s first sailing to ensure she can be delivered with the highest safety standards and will have all appropriate safety certifications in place.
“We are working tirelessly with the shipbuilder Fincantieri to deal immediately and appropriately to replace the affected materials to ensure the safety and compliance of the ship.
“The work is currently underway, and the shipbuilder is discussing with the relevant classification societies to obtain the ship’s safety certificate as soon as possible, so that she will be ready for delivery on 24 July and her first sailing on 1 August from Copenhagen.
“We understand the disappointment the delay has caused our guests but their safety and that of our crew are of our first priority and we appreciate their understanding as we manage effectively this unexpected situation.”
Full refunds are being provided on cancelled sailings between July 17 and August 1 plus a future journey credit equivalent to 30% value of the original booking to be used for a new booking, valid for 12 months.
The company is protecting 100% of commission payments for travel agents on the cancelled sailings and there will be no commission recall of money already paid.
“Commission will be earned on all future bookings on the cash portion paid. When using the 30% future journey credit on a new booking, commission will not be calculated on the value of the credit,” the line added.
MSC Cruises UK and Ireland managing director Antonio Paradiso said: “We have been personally in touch with all of our travel agents who had customers booked on the maiden voyage.
“Travel agents whose guests are booked on the original 17 July maiden journey will have their commission 100% protected and no commission recall will occur. Commission will also be earned on all future bookings on the cash portion paid.
“Their guests will receive a full refund, a 30% future journey credit and be able to submit a claim for any additional expenses related to the journey that already occurred. We look forward, as do our on-board hosts, to welcoming these guests on a future journey following the launch of Explora I. “
He added: “We would hope that travel advisors with customers booked on future journeys would fully understand and support the responsible decision that Explora Journeys took to put the safety of guests and crew first by not taking delivery of the ship, even though this meant cancelling the first cruise and disappointing our first guests.
“We are working tirelessly with the shipbuilder Fincantieri to deal immediately and appropriately with the issue to replace the affected materials to ensure the safety and compliance of the ship.
“The work is currently underway, and the shipbuilder is discussing with the relevant classification societies to obtain the ship’s safety certificate as soon as possible, so that she will be ready for delivery on 24 July and her first sailing on 1 August from Copenhagen, Denmark.”
Explora Journeys was scheduled to take delivery of the ship at a ceremony on July 6 which was cancelled two days before.
In an email to passengers due to sail on the maiden voyage, the line said: “While the ship is fully ready and the team of hosts is eagerly awaiting to welcome you among the very first guests on board, the ship builders have identified a critical issue that must receive immediate attention.
“Certain materials from a third party supplier do not meet the required certifications and Explora Journeys therefore could not take delivery of the ship as planned on July 6, 2023.
“The brand is working together with Fincantieri on resolving the situation to ensure that Explora I will meet the highest standards. Thank you for your understanding that these circumstances are beyond the control of Explora Journeys.”
The statement added: “Unfortunately, the time required for the works to be carried out will extend the vessel’s stay at the shipyard a couple more weeks.
“Therefore, the delivery of Explora I is now scheduled for July 24 resulting in the new maiden journey leaving from Copenhagen, Denmark on August 1, 2023.
“As a consequence, the initially scheduled maiden journey on July 17 from Southampton is cancelled.”