Some travelers want to go in deep when they visit an unfamiliar destination, but still enjoy the pleasures, comfort and coddling of a guest-focused, upmarket cruiseline when they return to their ship.
That, in brief, is the mission of Azamara Club Cruises, founded a decade ago as a subsidiary of Royal Caribbean Cruises Ltd. That and “generating superior returns for our shareholders.”
Now, after spiffing up its already elegant complement of two ships – Azamara Journey and Azamara Quest – the line is evolving its ongoing Destination Immersion programming to allow guests to dive even deeper into the cultures of an expanded menu of places and the lives of their people.
Dubbed “Stay Longer. Experience more,” this evolution will add new destination countries and most if not all of their ports of call in 2018 and 2019.
“Within this evolved positioning, there are two powerful guest deliverables,” explains Larry Pimentel, Azamara president and CEO. “The first is we’re shifting from enabling our guests to immerse themselves in the destination, to delivering over 1,000 new and existing destination experiences for guests to select from in over 70 countries.”
Among these “Country Intensive Voyages” now being planned, for example, are cruises to New Zealand and more than a dozen ports there; Croatia, with about a half dozen; Greece, Italy, Norway, Japan, Mexico, Spain and more. Many of the ports being chosen are not big enough to handle today’s enormous vessels, but easily accommodate the comparatively intimate Azamara boutique ships, each of which can host 690 guests.
As Azamara continues to refine its new offerings, they will include what Pimentel identifies as the second guest deliverable – one-to-one human connections.
“Our land product will be curated to ensure guests get to connect in a personalized and unique way with the people in the destinations they visit,” he says. “This may occur through people-to-people interaction, cultural experiences, enjoying local food and beverages, music, events and so on.”
Guests will also be able to choose how they want to experience their cultural immersion, whether by bicycle; through food-related tours of markets, restaurants, wineries and distilleries; green adventures on local environmental tours; golfing at some of the world’s most renowned courses in Northern Europe, the Arabian Gulf, the Mediterranean and Australia; and more, including attending iconic world events including the Monaco Grand Prix, the Cannes Film Festival, the British Open and the FIFA World Cup.
About half of Azamara’s destination itineraries include visits until 8 p.m. or later and overnight stays, allowing guests to experience activities not featured during daylight hours.
“Guests like our ‘longer stays and more overnights’ platform because it gives them enough time in port to find some of the defining experiences there,” says Signe Bjorndal, Azamara’s director of global marketing and public relations. While the cruiseline already enables such experiential travel, she adds, “in the future we will deliver experiential shoreside experiences that meet luxury travel trends.”
More information can be found at Azamara’s website.