Ambassador Cruise Line: And then there were two

Alice Chambers asks Ambassador Cruise Line’s Bob McGowan about the renovations that were carried out onboard the brand’s second vessel, Ambition, which debuted in May 2023

Ambassador Cruise Line: And then there were two
Ambition debuted on 12 May 2023

Ambassador Cruise Line launched its first ship Ambience in April 2022 and expanded its fleet with the arrival of Ambition on 12 May 2023. 

Ambition, which previously sailed as both Costa Cruises’ Costa neoRiviera and AIDA Cruises’ AIDAmira, was delivered to Ambassador in March 2022 and was originally intended to debut in March 2023 after an extensive renovation. However, this project was delayed after the vessel was chartered to the Scottish Government between September 2022 and March 2023 to enable it to offer temporary accommodation for Ukrainians displaced by the ongoing the war with Russia. 

“Work began on Ambition at Lloyd Werft’s shipyard in Bremerhaven, Germany, in early April 2023,” says Bob McGowan, head of guest experience at Ambassador. “During this time, it underwent environmental upgrades to make it compliant with the International Maritime Organization’s Tier III regulations, as well as venue improvements and furnishing upgrades.” 

As part of the project, Ambassador incorporated its own branding into the spaces onboard Ambition. “We wanted to add the Ambassador touch to the vessel by bringing in our own colours and style that have been so popular onboard Ambience, as well as new features,” says McGowan. “Ambition was previously refurbished in 2019, when an extensive modern upgrade was carried out at a total cost of $55 million, so it was already in excellent condition. Due to this, we focused on creating specific new spaces during the refit.” 

For example, the brand added a new Mediterranean-style dining venue called Lupino’s, which pays homage to Michelle Lupino, the late head of destination management who passed away in October 2022. Lupino’s features natural colours and textures and natural light from floor-to-ceiling windows to evoke a feeling of alfresco dining where guests can share platters of Mediterranean salads and mezze. 

“We previously worked with Atlantic Marine Interiors on the Ambience project and have a very good working relationship with the team – they understand our brand, guests and the concepts we are looking to create,” says McGowan. “That’s why we chose to work with them on the creation of Lupino’s. Michelle was a very close friend of mine and this restaurant had to be just right. Atlantic Marine Interiors and Guri Blindheim, our specialist interior designer, understood this and made sure the end results were a fitting tribute to a much-loved colleague.” 

Other restaurants onboard Ambition include the Buckingham and Holyrood Restaurants, which mirror the design concepts onboard Ambience and offer traditional British dishes via both buffet and à la carte dining experiences. Meanwhile, Borough Market features buffet stations serving an array of global cuisines, allowing guests to create their own combinations of foods. Saffron provides an Indian fine-dining experience and Chef’s Table experience offers guests the chance to enjoy a multi-course à la carte menu with wine pairings, while listening to an executive chef talk through the inspiration behind each course.  

“I think the Chef’s Table will be one of the areas that offers a real ‘wow’ moment for guests,” says McGowan. “This area has been designed so guests get an opportunity to enjoy the ultimate onboard culinary experience, a VIP multi-course dining experience specially created and hosted by the executive chef, which also includes a tour to the galley.  

“The library is also pretty special, as on those sunny sea days guests will be able to borrow a book, relax on the vibrant chaise longue or enjoy doing a jigsaw with new friends.” 

Another new design concept is the Clifton Lounge, a cocktail bar fitted with a stage for classical duet performances. “Guests will be entertained in our relaxed atmosphere inside the Clifton Lounge while listening to classical music,” says McGowan. “The stage is a small modification that has been added during the refit, but it is an important one for Ambassador guests.” 

Following its naming ceremony at the Port of Tyne in Newcastle, England, on 11 May 2023, Ambition departed for its inaugural 14-night voyage on Ambassador’s ‘Hidden Gems of France and Spain’ itinerary. It will then operate on its ‘Majestic Fjordland’ and ‘Icelands land of Ice Fire’ in Norway and Iceland respectively throughout June before travelling to France and North Africa for the rest of the summer season.

This article was first published in the 2023 issue of Cruise & Ferry Interiors. All information was correct at the time of printing, but may since have changed. Subscribe to Cruise & Ferry Interiors for FREE here to get the next issue delivered directly to your inbox or your door.

Alice Chambers
By Alice Chambers
16 June 2023