Azamara Cruises - the two-ship brand launched in 2007 with the 694-guest Azamara Journey and sister ship Azamara Quest - today became “Azamara Club Cruises,” with a newly refined focus, and a series of new attributes designed for upmarket, experienced travelers.
“This isn’t a strategy of going ‘from good to great’,” said Azamara Club Cruises President & CEO Larry Pimentel. “This is about taking an already great product and making it exceptional.”
Tapped to take the helm of Azamara Cruises in July of this year, Pimentel spent several weeks talking with travel agents, past guests and press to determine how to make his great-to-exceptional goal a reality. He also tapped a small new team focused 100 percent on Azamara, including VP of Sales & Marketing Edie Bornstein, AVP of Hotel Operations Bert Van Middendorp, Director of Marketing Signe Bjorndal, Director of National Accounts Michelle Nevin, and an eight-member field sales team dedicated solely to Azamara.
Together, Pimentel and team shaped the new Azamara Club Cruises, whose most distinguishing new attributes will be in effect by April 2010.
“Today’s cruisers have incredible new vacation options - like Celebrity’s stunning Solstice Class, and Royal Caribbean’s Oasis of the Seas,” said Pimentel. “Azamara Club Cruises will distinguish itself by delivering the destination like no other line.”
Azamara Club Cruises will visit 140 ports in 50 countries in 2010, with itineraries featuring more overnight stays to allow guests to immerse themselves in communities and cultures. Among the overnight locations are Istanbul, Turkey; Sorrento, Italy, which offers a host of tour options along the Amalfi Coast and Capri; a full three days and two nights in St. Petersburg, Russia, on Azamara’s Scandinavia and Russia itineraries; and multiple overnight stays in Azamara’s Southeast Asia region, including Ho Chi Minh City, Bangkok, Singapore and Hong Kong.
“We’re going to slow down the tempo, and allow our guests to not just see the destination, but to live it,” said Pimentel. “Consider destinations like St. Tropez or St. Petersburg, Russia. If you’ve experienced them only by day, you haven’t really experienced them. With Azamara, through more overnight stays and late-night stays, you can.”
The destination focus of Azamara Club Cruises inspired the brand’s new tagline - “You’ll love where we take you” - and will extend to its shore excursions, too, an essential ingredient to allow guests to truly experience a community and its culture.
Azamara has created distinctive two-day packages tailored to the overnight destinations, to make it easy for guests to immerse themselves in each location, whether it’s Dubrovnik, Croatia; Odessa, Ukraine; Livorno (Florence), Italy, Warnemunde (Berlin), Germany, or London, in addition to Sorrento and St. Petersburg.
Azamara also will offer experiences such as a two-night package from Bangkok to Laos; an overnight tour from Hiroshima to Osaka via bullet train; a three-night experience from Mumbai including a visit to the Taj Mahal; overnight tours in Israel between Ashdod and Cairo, and a Grand Egypt tour featuring the best of both Luxor and Cairo.
Among Azamara’s specialty tours include a Ferrari driving tour in Civitavecchia, Italy; a walk down memory lane in Liverpool with the “In the steps of The Beatles” tour; a private demonstration of chocolate flavors in Dubrovnik; a “Theatre A La Carte” evening in London; Croatian liqueur tasting in Zadar; an Imperial Russian Court evening at Tsarskoye Selo in St. Petersburg; an evening gondola serenade in Venice; and high tea at the Burj al Arab Hotel in Dubai.
Praised for its dining experience since its founding, Azamara will continue to place a heavy emphasis on fine cuisine, and will expand its focus on wine to include vintages from boutique wineries around the world. Guests will have the opportunity to taste high quality wines that may be unavailable at home, because the selected vineyards produce a strictly limited quantity each year, distributed primarily locally. The featured wines will be offered complimentary at lunches and dinners on every sailing.
Wellness and vigor will be a core component of the Azamara Club Cruises experience, too, with onboard and land-based experiences designed to help guests feel and look healthier and more youthful. Azamara’s aim in wellness and vigor is to help guests balance their physical, emotional, social, spiritual and intellectual needs through massages, facials and other spa treatments, as well as acupuncture, yoga, Pilates, and enrichment programs.
The newly refined brand also is intensely focused on offering an intangible attribute essential to a successful upmarket product: exceptional service.
“Extraordinary service is paramount with Azamara Club Cruises,” said Pimentel. “We know every travel and hospitality organization proclaims it’s committed to great service, so what will make Azamara stand out? First, our butlers will be trained to be true English butlers, to offer that fine balance of anticipatory, pampering, yet non-intrusive service to guests in every suite.” Guests in staterooms will be served by the line’s host of experienced stateroom attendants.
Azamara Club Cruises also will offer many inclusive amenities, with the following included in the cruise fare beginning with the first voyages in April 2010 on Azamara Journey and Azamara Quest: a specific brand of bottled water offered at no charge throughout the voyage, whether in public venues or in staterooms; specialty coffees and teas; housekeeping and dining gratuities; shuttlebus service to/from port communities, where available; destination-influenced entertainment and enrichment programs; most meals and room service; house wine at lunches and dinners; and self-service laundry. Specialty dining in Azamara’s intimate Prime C steakhouse and the Mediterranean-influenced Aqualina will be complimentary for suite guests for the duration of their cruise.
Cruisers who can’t get enough of Azamara will be invited to join the line’s new loyalty program, “Le Club Voyage,” with specific features and benefits yet to be announced.