Azamara Or Oceania? Operating Nearly Identical Ships, But With Differences That Sway One Writer

The following opinion column was written by guest columnist Fran Camino, who runs the Spanish-language cruise website, Waves & Wind from Santiago de Compostela, Spain

Fran Camino
Fran Camino

Let’s face it: Choosing the perfect cruise has never been an easy task. Premium, luxury, family oriented. Too many categories that could be fitted like a jigsaw.

In the middle of all this is a kind-of-a-sort-of a dog fight between two men: Frank Del Rio from Oceania Cruises and Larry Pimentel from Azamara Club Cruises. Both offer “upper premium” cruises. Luxury at affordable prices.

Who can resist? With two nearly identical products, the choice of which to cruise could be difficult, but for me, the decision was a piece of cake.

Oceania and Azamara both operate exclusive and personalized ships designed to appeal to discerning travelers who expect to have extras, at little additional cost. Having nearly the same cabin categories, exquisite food, and with both companies competing neck-to-neck with each other, I found something different that helped me make up my mind quickly.

Oceania misses a couple of important points for travelers like me: First, not so many of us are able to travel more than eight days, the average holiday length for most cruisers except those who are retired. On Oceania, it´s hard to find any route less than ten days, while Azamara has a more flexible schedule.

The second thing that swayed my decision was one cruise company’s attention to the growing demand of single travelers.

Single travelers like me are usually punished for traveling alone. Even so, it’s rare to find cruise lines that charge single travelers supplements of 100% more. While the cruise companies are starting to adapt to this new reality, with flexible single supplements, Azamara is taking the lead by introducing special fares for singe travelers, whereas Oceania doesn’t make it easy for us to get on board affordably.

Yes, I have found the right holiday for me. Cruising for a shorter period of time and paying a reasonable single supplement. It´s going to be Azamara in my case.

Join the Conversation

Bill Leiber says:

Hello Fran Camino,

I was so pleased to read that your decision to choose Azamara rather than Oceania because of our flexible itinerary schedule and offering single travelers lower supplements was a “piece of cake.” But I would be remiss in my role as Azamara Club Cruises’ Chief Blogging Officer if I failed to mention what I consider to be the most important difference between our brands. It’s our price/value equation compared to Oceania – Azamara is a better value – so let’s add some ice-cream to that cake!

We offer lower rates than Oceania and we’re priced 6% to 13% below Oceania. For the 2011 Europe season, we are generally 25% lower than the rest of our competitive set which includes Regent Seven Seas. Most importantly, our unique cruise tariff is “more all inclusive” since it includes gratuities for waiters, bar staff and cabin stewards, complimentary specialty coffees, bottled water, soft drinks, boutique wines at lunch & dinner, free self-service laundry, certified English butler service for suite guests and shuttle service to and from ports, when available. Simply, you’re getting more for the money paid when you select Azamara.

We believe that we have created a new level of service that will deliver on our promise of a “club-like’ atmosphere and make each guest feel truly special by eliminating their worry about tipping and by reducing the number of times that their onboard account would be charged for “extra” services. For me, Azamara is the ‘crossover’ product which we call “Upmarket” that bridges the gap between the experiences delivered by the premium/deluxe category and by the luxury cruise lines such as Seabourn and Silversea. We’re in a NEW category of our own.

Yes, it’s understandable to compare us both since we share the same hardware and to expect that we’re engaged in a dog-fight with each other. Interestingly, that is not the case. It’s more complex than that since based on our guests’ past cruise histories they frequently migrate between the luxury and premium/deluxe categories of lines such as Seabourn Cruise Line, Silversea Cruises, Regent Seven Seas, Oceania Cruises, Celebrity Cruises and Crystal Cruises.

Thank you, Fran, for taking your time to share your opinion on Avid Cruiser and I hope that your readers will check out the ‘new’ Azamara Club Cruises on our website ….it is an upmarket product that offers fantastic deployments and a quality crew. It is the ultimate in value!

We look forward to welcoming you back aboard again and again.

____________________
Bill Leiber
Chief Blogging Officer*
Azamara Club Cruises
(*CBO is an authorized and compensated representative of AC

Fran says:

Thank you so much to have added he remarks to my oppinion. I will be sampling Azamara for the first time and I am sure I will be able to write a more comprehensive review about it, to be published. I will take note of the points mentioned. For the customer point of view before booking, the stunning value of Azamara is something indeed remarkable.

I am looking forward to it
Best wishes
Fran

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