Azamara Cruises, the small high-end cruise line with a focus on land, is searching for new ways to deliver cruise experiences on the ground.
The brand plans country-intensive sailings, more exclusive and curated activities in port, as well as more voyages built around major entertainment and sports events.
Larry Pimentel, Azamara president and CEO, announced the initiative at a recent press event in New York City, calling it a brand positioning evolution 18 months in the making.
As part of the renewed focus, the line rolled out a new mantra: “Stay longer. Experience more.” And Azamara is introducing a series of land programs built around the notion of making local connections while cruising globally.
This year, the brand’s two ships will visit 203 ports in 68 countries, and the line is offering more than 1,000 curated experiences “that can’t be Googled,”
Land programs will include an emphasis on food, shopping, biking, golf, walking, and other pursuits. Some will allow passengers to stay on shore overnight.
Other trips will be built around big events including the British Open, Cannes Film Festival, and the Monaco Grand Prix.
New country-intensive itineraries will spend the bulk of a trip visiting multiple ports in countries such as Japan, Australia, New Zealand, Croatia, and Norway. Because the line’s ships are relatively small, they can get to destinations that are hard for larger competitors to reach.
Azamara, which eschews formal nights for a “resort casual” atmosphere, has long touted its emphasis on destinations; about half of its stops include a late or even overnight stays in port.
Part of Royal Caribbean Cruises, the line has just two 690-passenger ships. Both were built in 2000, entered service for Azamara when it launched in 2007, and got extensive updates last year. Every stateroom was redone,
Those renovations come as other players in the high-end cruise space debut new hardware. Seabourn and Regent Seven Seas, both luxury competitors, launched new vessels last year. Newcomer Viking Ocean Cruises welcomed two ships in the last couple years and has four more coming by 2019. And Oceania Cruises, which operates four vessels that are sisters to Azamara’s, also sails ships built in 2011 and 2012.
Pimentel is confident that, for Azamara, the approach has been working. He said bookings for 2017 have been record-setting, with rates continuing to climb, and the company is managing to reach the coveted new-to-cruise market.