The traditional symbol for a first anniversary is paper, and Azamara Cruises today is tempted to paper the walls of its Miami offices with the accolades the deluxe brand has received since setting sail for the first time just one year ago today.
“We’re thrilled with how far we’ve come in just one year, and honored by the recognition our deluxe brand has received from our guests, our travel agent partners, and the press,” said Azamara Cruises President and CEO Dan Hanrahan. “The extraordinary staff on both Azamara Journey and Azamara Quest has worked tirelessly to ensure that every guest receives the vacation experience we’ve promised since the brand’s launch.”
That launch officially began when Azamara Journey set sail last year, promising a more intimate onboard experience – with a capacity of just 694 guests – and access to the less-traveled ports of call experienced travelers want to visit.
Azamara also inspired a new category in the cruise business – the deluxe category – serving a niche market between premium and luxury.
“Azamara Cruises was expressly designed for travel enthusiasts who appreciate what a cruise vacation has to offer, but are looking for something a little different, and a little more special,” said Hanrahan. “And what’s special about Azamara is its distinctive combination of impeccable service, exceptional cuisine, and off-the-beaten-path destinations, with immersive shore excursions.”
Azamara expanded to a two-ship fleet just five months after the brand’s launch, when Azamara Quest entered service in October 2007. Both ships previously sailed with Madrid-based cruise and tour operator Pullmantur S.A., and were acquired when Azamara’s parent company, Royal Caribbean Cruises Ltd., purchased the company in 2006.
Prior to both ships’ launch, the line invested nearly $40 million between the two to incorporate two specialty restaurants and 32 new suites on each ship, and entirely new bedding, decking, flooring, carpeting, art collection and design schemes, within a variety of updated, stylish lounges, including a Martini Bar, Mosaic Café, Sushi Café, Drawing Room jazz/piano bar, casino, Boutique C, AstralSpa by Elemis, Acupuncture at Sea and an Internet café.
The guest experience on both ships is decidedly more exclusive, with Azamara butler service in every stateroom and suite, as well as concierge-style amenities, including fresh-cut flowers, fresh fruit, Elemis toiletries, complimentary use of Frette cotton robes, two complimentary pairs of slippers, plasma TVs and plush European bedding.
The two specialty restaurants – the Mediterranean-influenced “Aqualina” and the steak and seafood restaurant, “Prime C,” each complimentary for guests – were created to rival some of the finest restaurants on land, and guest response indicates the line is meeting that goal, with ratings steadily rising from the brand’s launch to all-time highs that remain today. The main dining room, “Discoveries,” is open seating, as is the casual dining area, comprised of “Breeza” and “Windows Café.” There are no formal nights; instead, country-club casual apparel is welcome day and night.
Azamara Journey and Azamara Quest are currently plying the waters of the Mediterranean, on exotic itineraries such as a 16-night Western Europe cruise featuring four destinations in Spain, the Channel Islands, a cruise through Germany’s Kiel Canal, and a two-night stay in London near the Tower Bridge – a vivid illustration of Azamara cruise ships’ ability to visit locations larger ships can’t reach. Azamara Journey also sails in the Baltic this summer, with several overnight stays in captivating ports of call.
Beginning this fall, following its first European season, Azamara Journey will present two new, 16-night Panama Canal sailings, followed by a series of 12-night exotic Caribbean cruises through March 2009, when the ship will relocate to Europe.
Meanwhile, Azamara Quest will set sail in exotic Asia with a 24-night voyage from Athens (Lavrion), Greece to Singapore departing November 22, 2008, followed by an 18-night Southeast Asia voyage from Singapore to Hong Kong, China; two 14-night Southeast Asia cruises between Hong Kong and Singapore, and four 14-night Northeast Asia cruises between Hong Kong and Beijing (Tianjin), China. Seven-night escorted cruisetour packages are available for guests interested in optimizing their Asian experience, through in-depth land-based tours in Hong Kong, Beijing, Xian and Guilin, and visits to the Great Wall and Terracotta Warriors.
Azamara Quest will return to Europe on April 7, 2009, from Singapore to Athens (Lavrion), Greece, for its second season in Europe. All sailings on both ships – including those in 2009 – are open for booking.
Azamara Cruises is marking its anniversary with a complimentary champagne toast at sailaway today for all guests on both ships, capped with a special sweet treat with turndown service, and an internal celebration at the company’s Miami, Miramar and Wichita locations.