It seems that everyone wants to belong to a club. Even cruise lines have such aspirations, but the phenomenon is apparently exclusive to two-ship cruise lines. There’s SeaDream Yacht Club, and now there’s Azamara Club Cruises. The latter is only a rebranding of the hastily launched Azamara Cruises – the two-ship brand that came to surface in 2007 with the 694-guest Azamara Journey and sister ship Azamara Quest.
Azamara’s newly refined brand features more inclusive options for guests such as gratuities, house wines with lunch and dinner, and coffee and bottled water throughout the day. Azamara Club Cruises also focuses on slowing the cruise experience down with more overnight stays and late night departures from ports of call to increase opportunities for immersion in a destination.
Since taking the helm of Azamara Cruises in July of this year, Larry Pimentel, who once headed up SeaDream Yacht “Club,” has spent several weeks talking with travel agents, past guests and media to determine how to make his great-to-exceptional goal a reality. “This isn’t a strategy of going ‘from good to great’,” says Azamara Club Cruises’ President & CEO Larry Pimentel. “This is about taking an already great product and making it exceptional.”
Azamara Club Cruises will visit 140 ports in 50 countries in 2010, with itineraries featuring more overnight stays, including Istanbul, Turkey; Sorrento Italy; a full three days and two nights in St Petersburg, Russia; and multiple overnight stays in Southeast Asia including Ho Chi Minh City, Bangkok, Singapore and Hong Kong.
“We’re going to slow down the tempo, and allow our guests to not just see the destination, but to live it,” Pimentel says. “Consider destinations like St. Tropez or St. Petersburg, Russia. If you’ve experienced them only by day, you haven’t really experienced them. With Azamara Club Cruises, through more overnight stays and late-night stays, you can.”
The destination focus of Azamara Club Cruises inspired the brand’s new tagline – “You’ll love where we take you” – and will extend to its shore excursions. The new brand will will offer experiences such as a two-night package from Bangkok to Laos; an overnight tour from Hiroshima to Osaka via bullet train; a three-night experience from Mumbai including a visit to the Taj Mahal; overnight tours in Israel between Ashdod and Cairo, and a Grand Egypt tour featuring the best of both Luxor and Cairo.
Among Azamara Club Cruise’s speciality tours include a Ferrari driving tour in Civitavecchia, Italy; a walk down memory lane in Liverpool with the “In the steps of The Beatles” tour; a private demonstration of chocolate flavours in Dubrovnik; a “Theatre A La Carte” evening in London; Croatian liqueur tasting in Zadar; an Imperial Russian Court evening at Tsarskoye Selo in St. Petersburg; an evening gondola serenade in Venice; and high tea at the Burj al Arab Hotel in Dubai.
Azamara Club Cruises will expand its focus on wine to include vintages from boutique wineries around the world. Guests will have the opportunity to taste high quality wines unavailable at home, because the selected vineyards produce a strictly limited quantity each year, distributed primarily locally. The featured wines will be offered complimentary at lunches and dinners on every sailing.
Well-being will be a core component of the Azamara Club Cruises experience, too, with onboard and land-based experiences designed to help guests feel and look healthier and more youthful. Azamara Club Cruise’s aim in wellbeing is to help guests balance their physical, emotional, social, spiritual and intellectual needs through massages, facials and other spa treatments, as well as acupuncture, yoga, Pilates, and enrichment programmes.
Azamara Club Cruises also will transition to a primarily all-inclusive experience, with the following included in the cruise fare beginning with the first voyages in April 2010 on Azamara Journey and Azamara Quest:
- a specific brand of bottled water offered at no charge throughout the voyage, whether in public venues or in staterooms;
- specialty coffees and teas;
- housekeeping and dining gratuities;
- shuttlebus service to/from port communities, where available;
- destination-influenced entertainment and enrichment programs;
- all meals and room service;
- house wine at lunches and dinners;
- and self-service laundry.
Specialty dining in Azamara Club Cruise’s intimate Prime C steakhouse and the Mediterranean-influenced Aqualina will be complimentary for suite guests for the duration of their cruise.