Explora Journeys Bolsters Its U.S. Commercial Team

Explora Journeys has strengthened its commercial team in the U.S. with seven new appointments to support the travel advisor community. The new roles in the U.S., besides eight new positions in Europe, have been created to ensure the luxury lifestyle travel brand of MSC Group can work effectively with its travel partners to maximize commercial opportunities.

Chris Austin, chief sales officer, Explora Journeys, said, “All of these new appointments in our commercial team have deep luxury hospitality experience, are very well known, highly respected and have an unwavering commitment to the luxury travel advisor community. They are passionate and proactive consultative sellers, highly responsive to any advisor request, and are totally focused on mutual success.”

The new U.S.-based commercial team members include the following:

  • Christopher Cestari, business relationship lead, North East USA; based in New York, he was formerly with Crystal Cruises as senior business development manager. Prior to that, he was director of sales at Hotel Plaza Athénée New York for 15 years.
  • Kathy Lu, business relationship lead, South East USA; based in Atlanta, she was formerly with Crystal Cruises as regional sales and strategic business development manager for three years. Prior to that, she held the position of international sales support manager for three years.
  • Jonathan Hamel-De Lara, business relationship lead, West USA; based in Los Angeles, he was formerly with Marriott International Luxury Brands as West Coast and Canada director of global luxury sales and leisure for seven years.
  • Mary Gallo, business relationship lead, Central USA; based in Chicago, she was formerly with Seabourn and Starwood Hotels & Resorts Luxury Brand portfolio for much of her career and two other luxury hotel groups.
  • Tomás Baca-Cruz, business relationship expert for the Americas; based in Miami, he was formerly with Ritz-Carlton Yacht Collection and held the position of strategic account manager for Eastern United States, Canada & Latin America for four years.
  • Nathaniel Navarro, sales excellence lead; based in Miami, he was formerly with Royal Caribbean International as account executive, national accounts for four years. Prior to that, he held the position of team lead royal guest experience manager, also for four years.
  • George Barraza, air services lead; based in Miami, he was formerly with Crystal Cruises as luxury air services manager for six years. Prior to that, George worked with Royal Caribbean Cruise Ltd in the corporate and air services team.

Explora Journeys’ first of four ships is on track to make its debut at sea in May 2023. Explora I will visit 132 ports in 40 countries, including two destinations, Kastellorizo, Greece and Saint Pierre, Martinique that have not been visited by cruise ships before. The itineraries include the Mediterranean, Northern Europe, the U.K., Iceland, Greenland, Canada, the U.S. East Coast, Caribbean, South America and Hawaii. Sailings start from six-night journeys and culminate in a 44-night Northern Europe Grand Journey.

For more information, visit explorajourneys.com.

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