Thinking outside the ship

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Most cruise lines rarely offer an overnight stay in port. At the end of the day, it’s back to the ship after a few hours of some sightseeing, a meal and little else.

This quick-hit approach allows guests to sample a wide variety of ports during the course of one voyage, an appealing plan for those visiting the region for the first time.

But discerning, well-traveled cruise guests want more. To attract them, Azamara Club Cruises emphasizes Destination Immersion, filling an unmet market demand by guests who remain interested in the comfort and amenities of a cruise — but also value time on the ground, exploring exotic destinations around the globe.

“Destination Immersion is about providing one-of-a-kind experiences that our guests won’t find anywhere else,” says Signe Bjorndal, Azamara’s director of global marketing.

Azamara provides more overnight and multi-day stays at port than anyone else in the industry. And since rolling out these customized itineraries, Azamara has seen a significant lift in guest satisfaction as well as profits. With each experience, these highly desirable consumers are that much more interested in coming back for another cruise, to better explore a different part of the world.at port than anyone else in the industry. And since rolling out these customized itineraries, Azamara has seen a significant lift in guest satisfaction as well as profits. With each experience, these highly desirable consumers are that much more interested in coming back for another cruise, to better explore a different part of the world.

During one recent stop, guests had exclusive after-hours access to Málaga’s Picasso Museum  in Málaga, Spain, where the curator personally walked them through the collection. On another, guests were treated to a homemade lunch on a small, local farm deep in the mountains of Norway.

“And because we stay late in ports, we can escort guests out after dinner to local clubs, lounges, even private cocktail parties,” Bjorndal says. “Your typical tourist would never see these places. We’re showing guests the real people, places, and culture after dark — previously unheard of during a cruise.”

No other cruise line is providing guests with such a wide variety of opportunities for Destination Immersion

Food offers another great opportunity to surprise and delight Azamara guests. To that end, Azamara is launching “Cruise Global, Eat Local,” a program that will treat guests to under-the-radar eateries that exemplify the culinary flavors of that destination.

In some cases, guests may even accompany a member of the ship’s crew who calls that port home – true insider access.

To kick things off, guests can enjoy an AzAmazing Evening, a unique experience included in their cruise fare that provides a taste of the local culture and entertainment. A recent night at an exclusive Monte Carlo Yacht Club featured modern dancing, champagne and other wines for all guests.

“Our customers value these events — participation levels are around 80 percent,” Bjorndal says. “No other cruise line is providing guests with such a wide variety of opportunities for Destination Immersion.

“And seasoned, experienced travelers are beginning to demand these bespoke experiences.”