Explora Journeys makes key appointments ahead of Explora I’s maiden voyage

Explora Journeys makes key appointments ahead of  Explora I’s maiden voyage

Hires include a seasoned GM and four culinary experts 

MSC Group’s upcoming luxury lifestyle cruise line Explora Journeys has added seven highly regarded hospitality professionals to its first ship, Explora I’s team in preparation for its summer 2023 debut.

Explora Journeys continues to build its management team in parallel to sourcing talent from around the world as part of its global recruitment programme. Its goal is to hire 640 hosts capable of creating an 'Ocean State of Mind' for guests. 

Commenting on the appointments, Explora Journeys CEO Michael Ungerer said: “We are a step further forward in our vision to create a team of diverse and multicultural, luxury hospitality professionals. I'm extremely proud of our team who are leading this critical phase of our journey.” 

Explora Journeys reveals Ocean Wellness programme
Explora I unveils gourmet attractions ahead of inaugural cruise
Travel and wellbeing "essential" for most consumers

The line’s new appointments include Heike Berdos (pictured) as Explora I general manager. Most recently Berdos was hotel director with Azamara Cruises where she spent 15 years as part of the original launch team. Prior to this, she worked for MSC Cruises as shore excursions manager and held various guest service positions with Celebrity Cruises for more than 23 years. Berdos was born in Germany and raised in Algeria, Canada and Germany.

Simone Canessa has taken the role of Explora I staff captain. Canessa started his career with MSC Cruises on MSC Rhapsody in 2005. For the past 17 years during his tenure with Costa Cruises, Simone held various positions both on board and ashore before being promoted to staff captain in 2021. He was born and raised in Italy.

Antonio Iaccarino and Salvatore Ciampama, both formerly with MSC, join as chief engineers, while executive head of culinary Franck Garanger has expanded his team with three new appointments: Frederic Godineau as senior executive chef, Christophe Sapy as corporate executive pastry chef and Jérôme Toumelin as corporate executive chef.

With 18 F&B concepts on board, the team will have their work cut out for them, but they bring a bounty of experience. 


Formerly with Oceania Cruises, Godineau most recently spent five years as senior executive chef before being promoted to executive chef. Prior to joining Oceania Cruises, he worked at prestigious hotels in France, such as Hotel de Crillon, Four Seasons and George V. 

Sapy was the executive pastry chef at Mandarin Oriental Hong Kong for three years and, before that, executive pastry chef at Mandarin Oriental Bangkok, Thailand for three years. He previously spent 10 years in the Middle East at hotels including Le Meridien Dubai and Shangri La Qariat al Beri Abu Dhabi.

Toumelin was the corporate travelling chef de cuisine for The Apollo Group for seven years, and worked with Regent Seven Seas and Oceania Cruise Lines. Prior to this, he spent six years as executive chef at Market by Jean-Georges in Paris.

In its first year, Explora I will visit 138 ports in more than 40 countries. Sales are now open for the Inaugural Journeys Collection sailing from summer 2023. 

For more information, visit 

Share article

View Comments