Azamara Cruises

History, Review, Itineraries, Ships, Deck Plans, News

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Azamara Cruises fleet

Review of Azamara Cruises

Azamara ( / fka "Azamara Club Cruises") is a premium cruise travel brand and a Sycamore Partners-owned company that currently operates four ships - Azamara Journey, Azamara Quest, Azamara Pursuit and Azamara Onward. Until 2021, Azamara was a subsidiary of RCCL-Royal Caribbean Cruises Ltd.

Marked by wealth and elegance, Azamara voyages are professionally planned and managed all the way through your stay with the company - both shipboard and ashore. On all Azamara ships, ~93% of all staterooms are outside, with 70% of them having private step-out balconies. Onboard service is outstanding: from butler service in every stateroom to the 1 staff member to every 2 guests ratio. In every stateroom, passengers receive a high level of service, which is rarely found on larger vessels.

Azamara's all-inclusive "luxury club" like experience includes complimentary beverages (spirits, wines, international beers, bottled waters, specialty teas-coffees, soft drinks), AzAmazing Evening (shore excursions themed on local cuisine and traditional entertainment), onboard gratuities, onboard concierge and butler services (in suites). The AzAmazing tours are complimentary evenings ashore offering a fabulous way to immerse in the region's/destination's culture.

Company history and changes

All Azamara ships are R-Class vessels (built between 1998-2001) and originally owned by Renaissance Cruises (1989-founded/2001-defunct). Founded in 2007 as "Azamara Cruises", the company was rebranded twice - in 2009 (to "Azamara Club Cruises") and on June 18, 2019 (to just "Azamara"). The brand's logo was also changed.

Azamara Cruises logo - CruiseMapper

On January 19, 2021, Azamara's parent company RCG (Royal Caribbean Group) announced an agreement to sell the Azamara brand for USD 201 million (~EUR 165,8M / ~GBP 147,6M / carve-out transaction) to Sycamore Partners. Sycamore Partners acquired the entire brand and its 3 ships, plus all the associated intellectual property rights and goodwill. The all-cash transaction was closed on March 19, 2021. The deal was assisted by Perella Weinberg Partners (financial advisor for RCG), Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer (legal counsel for RCG) and Kirkland & Ellis (legal advice to Sycamore).

Azamara's CEO and President is Carol Cabezas, while Orlando Ashford is the Executive Chairman. Under the new ownership, the company's executive team also includes Doug Parks (CAO/Administrative), Nico Corbijn (Head of Marine Operations/fleet maintenance), Laura Krejci (CIO/Information), Rafael Pagliuso (General Counsel/legal matters). In 2022, Azamara moved its Global Corporate Headquarters to Miami Florida.

The brand's new owner Sycamore Partners (2011-founded, NYC-headquartered) is a major private equity firm with USD 15+ billion in capital and assets under management. Sycamore specializes in retail-, consumer- and debt investments, leveraged and distressed buyouts, complex corporate carveouts. The largest Sycamore Partners investments include Belk Inc (1888-founded American department store chain/2015-acquired), Talbots (1947-founded American retailer of women's clothing-shoes-fashion accessories/2012-acquired), Nine West Holdings (1970-founded as Jones Apparel Group, American designer and wholesaler of branded clothing-shoes-accessories/2013-acquired) and Staples Inc (1986-founded, American office retailer/2017-acquired).

On January 25, 2021, Sycamore purchased for Azamara the R-Class ship Pacific Princess (now Azamara Onward), which is sistership to/same-designed as the other three Azamara boats (Journey, Quest, Pursuit). The new name (Azamara Onward) was officially announced on March 19th.

In late-November 2021 Azamara signed a multi-year deal with VIKAND Medical Solutions (Fort Lauderdale-based company providing medical services to the maritime industry). By the contract, VIKAND manages all the fleet's medical operations, including medical facilities, staffing, equipment management, programs (outbreak prevention, emergency support, consultation).

Larry Pimentel was Azamara's President and CEO between 2009-2021. He formerly served as President and CEO of the cruise companies SeaDream Yacht Club, Seabourn and Cunard Line. Each Azamara vessel carries up to 694 passengers. Most of the company's customers (45%) are from North America, ~20% from UK-Ireland, ~10% from Australia-New Zealand.

Azamara has won many awards for its value, travel experience and service. Among its honors, Azamara won three awards in the same category with "Best Entertainment" to Azamara Journey, while Azamara Quest won "Best Fitness and Best Public Rooms" by 2015 UK Cruisers' Choice Awards. Azamara Club Cruises was listed amongst Travel+Leisure's "World's Best Awards 2014" in the large-ship companies category. Designed to provide exotic destination-driven itineraries, the line presents an intimate onboard experience while offering access to less-traveled ports of call that experienced cruisers want to visit.

Azamara gives an exciting opportunity to experienced travelers who look for more than what a traditional voyage can deliver. They are keener on traveling than cruising, but may still prefer the convenience that only a ship can deliver in exotic locales. Azamara provides this underserved group of vacationers what they want - an experience that is a bit different: more than premium, but not quite luxury. Azamara offers deluxe voyages with concierge-style amenities - for this one would have to upgrade to a suite on other lines.

Since its launch, Azamara has added more inclusive amenities to its cruise fares, including complimentary bottled water, brand teas and coffees, standard wines (by the glass), spirits and international beers (during bar hours), also free self-service laundry and shuttle bus service (town-port-town transfers).

The extensive overhauls of the two former fleetmates of Renaissance Cruises (1989-2001/defunct) resulted in brighter interiors with the addition of light and splashes of bold color in the drapes and upholstery. Areas that appeared stuffy now look welcoming, with contemporary artwork enhancing the decor. While the size of Azamara liners makes supports easy navigation and a high level of intimacy, there is no skimping on features that are abundant on larger liners, such as alternative dining and private cabin balconies. Cruisers may feel like they have checked into an upscale boutique hotel that happens to float.

In September 2021 Azamara announced a partnership with Starboard Cruise Services (retailer) for fleetwide retail services. The deal also expanded the brand's shoreside (late-evening and overnight port) retail offerings and activities with local products by artisans and craftsmen, including visits to their own shops/studios. The retail collections are mainly culture-themed and genuine to each visited cruise port/country.

In March 2023, Azamara opened a new Contact Center in Wichita (Kansas USA) serving the company's global travel partners (agencies and agents) as well as customers/travelers.

In November 2023 was launched the "Work & Wander” package targeting business professionals.

New ship

On September 26, 2017, Azamara announced an agreement with P&O UK (Carnival Corporation subsidiary company) to purchase the ship Adonia (Azamara Pursuit). Adonia's last P&O cruise was a 15-day Barbados roundtrip itinerary (booking code D804) February 23 through March 9, 2018.

The vessel will join Azamara's fleet of 2 sisterships (Azamara Journey and Azamara Quest). The planned delivery is for March 2018. The ship will be renamed "Azamara Pursuit". During the scheduled drydock refurbishment, the cruise ship's decor was changed, as well as the names of bars and lounges, cabin categories and amenities.

In late-January 2021, Azamara's new owner Sycamore Partners purchased the R-Class boat Pacific Princess (now Azamara Onward), which is sistership (by design) to all Azamara ships.

(Coronavirus crisis) passenger shipping pause 2020-2021

Due to the COVID pandemic, Azamara canceled all cruises with pre-scheduled departures in the period March 13, 2020, through September 2021. Operations resumed in 2021 with the ships QUEST (Aug 28/Greek Islands from Piraeus-Athens), PURSUIT (Sept 28/Greek Islands from Piraeus-Athens), JOURNEY (Oct 13/Greece from Piraeus-Athens), ONWARD (May 2, 2022/Maiden Voyage/Mediterranean from Monte Carlo to Venice).

All affected bookings received full refunds (100%), including on prepurchased through Azamara cruise packages and services. With rebooking are offered 125% refunds in FCC (future cruise credit) to be used on itineraries that depart up to Sept 30, 2022. The FCC must be redeemed by April 30, 2022. Changing the FCC to a monetary refund (100%) must be done by May 20, 2021. Azamara's Cancellation Policy was extended to allow penalty-free cancellations up to 48 hours prior departure (all officially canceled itineraries) and receive an FCC.

Itinerary of Azamara Cruises

With regularly scheduled cruise itineraries in the Caribbean, South America, Australia New Zealand, Asia and Europe, Azamara offers a wide choice of premium travel excursions marked by a 5-star hotel (all-inclusive) shipboard experiences, like in-cabin spa treatments, gourmet dining, white-glove service. Azamara's shore excursions offer special insights into the visited regions' history, culture, traditions, geology, wildlife. Each voyage includes one AzAmazing excursion included in the cruise fares.

Azamara customers can also book fly-cruise deals to sailings in the Caribbean (including Panama Canal transition), South America, Asia, Hawaii, Alaska. For Formula 1 fans there is even a "Monaco F1 Grand Prix Cruise" in the Azamara's schedule each year.

Under the company's new ownership (Sycamore Partners since 2021), Azamara now operates a fleet of four ultra-luxury ships - Azamara Quest, Azamara Journey, Azamara Pursuit, Azamara Onward (fka Pacific Princess).

Azamara 2024-2025-2026 itineraries

Azamara's schedule 2022-H2 thru 2023-Q1 included 80+ itineraries, 170 overnights, 300 late-night port stays, maiden ports (Dakar Senegal, Aberdeen, Tinos, Syros), and more "Country-Intensive Voyages".

Azamara's Europe 2023 schedule listed all ships (Pursuit, Quest, Journey, Onward) and included 95 itineraries visiting 40+ countries and 200 ports (7x maiden in Europe/new for the brand - Alta Norway, Brest France, Cesme Turkey, Fredericia Denmark, Goteborg Sweden, Heimaey Island Iceland, Mariehamn Aland Finland).

In November 2022, Azamara announced 44 new voyages for winter 2024-2025. The program features Azamara Quest's South Africa, Azamara Journey's South America, Azamara Pursuit's Asia and Australia, and Azamara Onward's "World Voyage 2025". The program features 171 late-night port stays and overnights.

Azamara Quest is due to embark on 6x B2Bs/back-to-back "South Africa Country Intensive" cruises visiting Cape Town, Durban, Port Elizabeth, East London, Mossel Bay, as well as Maputo (Mozambique).

Azamara Journey's South American schedule includes destinations like Buenos Aires (Argentina), the historical and culinary capital of Callao-Lima (Peru), and San Antonio (Chile).

Azamara Pursuit's Asian program has two "Japan Country Intensive" voyages plus visits to ports in Australia and New Zealand.

Grand Voyages 2024-2025 (longer itineraries)

In October 2023, Azamara opened for booking 11x Grand Voyages scheduled for 2024 and 2025, visiting destinations on 5 continents and with itineraries ranging from 35 to 70 nights.

Each Grand Voyage includes Extended Destination Days (port calls with 10 or more hours in port), including late-night departures and overnight stays. Some of the itineraries provide 30+ Extended Destination Days, like Copenhagen Denmark (known for its numerous Michelin-starred restaurants) and Cape Town South Africa (the gateway to the Table Mountain and the Cape Winelands/fka Boland).

Azamara's Grand Voyages 2024-2025 include:

  1. 37-night South Africa to Portugal (ship Azamara Pursuit), departure February 8, 2024
  2. 41-night Japan to Greece (ship Azamara Journey), departure April 18, 2024
  3. 35-night Europe Grand Voyage (ship Azamara Quest), departure May 18, 2024
  4. 46-night Denmark to Spain (ship Azamara Onward), departure August 11, 2024
  5. 59-night Norway to Italy (ship Azamara Quest), departure August 12, 2024
  6. 62-night Venice to Cape Town (ship Azamara Quest), departure October 19, 2024
  7. 70-night Greece to Australia (ship Azamara Pursuit), departure October 26, 2024
  8. 62-night New Zealand to Japan (ship Azamara Pursuit), departure February 3, 2025
  9. 69-night Japan to Greece (ship Azamara Pursuit), departure April 6, 2025
  10. 61-night South Africa to Italy (ship Azamara Quest), departure February 9, 2025
  11. 39-night Canada to UK (ship Azamara Quest), departure August 5, 2025

Azamara's Grand Voyage pricing is inclusive of economy class airfare, up to US$1200 in shore excursion credits, an upgraded premium beverage package, Wi-Fi access (for two devices), and weekly laundry service, in addition to the brand's standard "Always Azamara" inclusions (5 onboard dining options, 24/7 beverage service/including alcohol, gratuities, exclusive events, unlimited self-service laundry).

World Cruises (2025, 2026) (ship Azamara Onward)

Azamara Onward ship's World Voyage 2025 departs from San Diego CA and visits 37 countries before Southampton (England UK). The 155-night itinerary includes 15 overnights, 31 late port stays, 13 complimentary land events, and destinations like Honolulu (Hawaii), Samoa and Tonga, Sydney (NSW Australia), Stewart Island (Oban NZ), Benoa (Bali Indonesia), Laem Chabang-Bangkok (Thailand), Semarang (Indonesia).

Azamara Onward's World Voyage 2026 departs from Miami FL on January 6, 2026. The 155-night itinerary visits 36 countries and offers 55 port overnights and late-night stays, 60 Extended Destination Days (10+ hours in port), 3 exclusive and 10 AzAmazing events. World Voyage 2026 is also available for booking in smaller itinerary segments, including:

  • Central America Tapestry (Miami to Callao-Lima) Jan 6-20
  • Pacific Mysteries (Callao-Lima to Papeete Haiti) Jan 20-Feb 5
  • South Pacific Explorer (Papeete to Auckland NZ) Feb 6-16
  • Kiwis and Koalas (Auckland to Sidney NSW) Feb 16-Mar2
  • Astounding Australia and Asia (Sydney to Hong Kong) Mar 3-23
  • Vietnam and Thailand Pathways (Hong Kong to Singapore) Mar 24-Apr 7
  • Ancient Trade Routes (Singapore to Dubai) Apr 8-27
  • Ancient Reflections (Dubai to Istanbul) Apr 28-May 19
  • European Gems and Icons (Istanbul to Venice) May 19-Jun 1
  • Adriatic and Med Getaways (Venice to Barcelona) Jun 1-11

Overnight stays are scheduled for the following ports/destinations: Progresso Mexico (Jan 8-9), Fuerte Amador/Panama City (Jan 13-14), Callao-Lima Peru (Jan 20-21), Hanga Roa/Easter Island Chile (Jan 27-28), Moorea French Polynesia (Feb 4-5), Papeete Haiti French Polynesia (Feb 5-6), Bora-Bora French Polynesia (Feb 7-8), Hobart Tasmania Australia (Feb 26-27), Sydney NSW Australia (Mar 3-4), Cairns QLD Australia (Mar 9-10), Manila Philippines (Mar 21-22), Hong Kong China (Mar 23-24), Halong Bay Vietnam (Mar 26-27), Saigon Vietnam (Mar 30-31), Klong Toey-Bangkok Thailand (Apr 2-3), Singapore (Apr 7-8), Cochin India (Apr 16-17), Mumbai India (Apr 19-20), Dubai UAE (Apr 27-28), Safaga Egypt (May 8-9), Suez Canal transit (May 10-11), Ashdod-Jerusalem Israel (May 12-13), Istanbul Turkey (May 19-20), Piraeus-Athens Greece (May 25-26).

Azamara's World Cruise 2026 prices include US$22000 in amenities (13 special events), US$3000 in ONB/onboard credit, US$4000 OBC for shore excursions, flight credit, pre- and post-cruise land transfers, a pre-cruise hotel overnight, premium beverage package upgrade, laundry service (once weekly), WiFi Internet. Azamara's fares are also inclusive of all beverages (including alcohol), gratuities, onboard expert-led events, unlimited self-service laundry.

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