Startup cruise line Explora Journeys fortifies biz development team: Travel Weekly


MSC Group’s new luxury lifestyle cruise line, Explora Journeys, has appointed seven people to its commercial team to support travel advisors. 

Its first ship, Explora I, is due to enter service in May 2023.

Chief sales officer Chris Austin said the new appointments “have deep luxury hospitality experience and are very well known and highly respected.” Three of them previously worked for luxury line Crystal Cruises, which ceased operations in February. 

Christopher Cestari was named business relationship lead, North East USA, based in New York. He formerly was with Crystal Cruises as senior business development manager. 

Kathy Lu was appointed business relationship lead, South East USA, based in Atlanta. She was with Crystal as regional sales and strategic business development manager.

Jonathan Hamel-De Lara was named business relationship lead, West USA, based in Los Angeles. He was with Marriott International as West Coast & Canada director of global luxury sales and leisure.

Mary Gallo is Explora’s business relationship lead, Central USA, based in Chicago. She was formerly with Seabourn Cruises and Starwood Hotels & Resorts’ luxury brands before that.

Tomás Baca-Cruz was named business relationship expert for the Americas, based in Miami. He was with Ritz-Carlton Yacht Collection.

Nathaniel Navarro was appointed sales excellence lead, based in Miami. Navarro was with Royal Caribbean International as a national accounts executive.

George Barraza was named air services lead, based in Miami. He was with Crystal as luxury air services manager.



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