Azamara triples down on destination-focused cruising

Azamara triples down on destination-focused cruising

Azamara Club Cruises plans to deepen its brand identity as
an immersive, destination-oriented cruise line by adding more opportunities for
passengers to connect locally on shore excursions and by offering more
overnight and late-night port stays.

Azamara has for many years featured longer port stays and
overnights, but is “tripling down” in the words of president and CEO
Larry Pimentel. Marketing will be built around the phrase “Stay Longer.
Experience More.,” which Pimentel, said “is not just a tagline, but a
definition of brand essence.”

The two-ship line (Azamara operates the 700-passenger Quest
and Journey) will offer over one thousand destination experiences “that
can’t be Googled or found anywhere else because we’re creating them,”
Pimentel said.

It will include over 250 overnight and late-night stays (8
p.m. or later) in ports, which is roughly 50% of all its port calls, in a total
of 70 countries. He also said that over 50% of the ports on its itineraries are
ones where larger ships can’t dock.

Azamara’s immersive program includes Country Intensive
Voyages, a product that will allow guests to experience more
of a given country, as the majority of the destinations are concentrated in one
country such as Japan, Italy, Spain, Norway, New Zealand, Australia, Greece or
Croatia.

Pimentel said that focus on a single country, in which a
ship may visit 13 ports in 14 days, gives travel advisers an opportunity to
introduce cruising to clients who otherwise might be considering a
land-based tour of a country. During a presentation of the concept, he referred
to Azamara as “a no-cruise cruise.”

Another new point of emphasis will be “Cruise Global,
Connect Local,” a series of land programs that are designed to deliver
personalized and authentic experiences. Programs are built around biking, golf,
food, local celebrations and site-specific wildlife and wilderness tours, as
well as overland tours either during the voyage or pre- and post-cruise.

That tagline is purposefully elastic to permit labeling of
specific programs, e.g., “Cruise Global, Bike Local” or “Cruise
Global, Golf Local.”

There will also be a program called Meet Local, involving
immersive cultural experiences that offer people-to-people connections at the
homes, farms and villas of local families, Azamara said.

“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,” Pimentel said.

Onboard programming will be augmented to present more
information than ever on local destinations ranging from local culinary and
beverage selections to travel movies, lecturers and panel discussions on
destinations and other relevant topics, as well as entertainment.

Pimentel, who is also “chief destination experience
officer” for parent company Royal Caribbean Cruises Ltd., said that the
concept could extend to other RCCL brands, but for only for “a very tiny
subset” of Royal Caribbean International clients in the highest cabin
classifications or a small percentage of Celebrity passengers in “rarefied
suites.”

He nonetheless expects that other lines will begin to offer
deeper land experiences. “It will change. People always follow a good
concept.”
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Arnie Weissmann contributed to this report.

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