Azamara Club Cruises has just two boutique ships, Azamara Journey and Azamara Quest, which both carry a maximum of just 694 guests. But the operator certainly punches above its weight as far as offering a luxury product is concerned.
The line’s cruises appeals to guests who don’t fit into the ‘dedicated cruiser’ box, but have a thirst for travel and exploration. The company has been in the news lately with offers such as extended stays in popular or unusual destinations, and also its new AzAmazing Evenings, which are produced solely for Azamara Club Cruises passengers and create a ‘once in a lifetime’ experience. As Claudius Docekal, head of deployment and destinations, explains, it is all part of Azamara’s commitment to its branded Destination Immersion itineraries.
“Guests of Azamara Journey’s 22 December 2014 sailing from Buenos Aires will celebrate New Year’s Eve in Rio de Janeiro with a brilliant view of the fireworks while anchored off Copacabana Beach,” he says. “Meanwhile, guests on Azamara Quest’s sailing from Singapore departing on the same day will enjoy an incredible laser show in Hong Kong. On that voyage with Azamara Quest, there will be a late stay in Kota Kinabalu, Borneo on Christmas Day to explore the tropical beaches and orangutan sanctuary, and also to take part in jungle trekking in Kinabalu National Park.”
Docekal is possibly most excited about the cruise line’s Rio Carnival & Argentina Voyage departing in February 2015. Guests will have a chance to enjoy what is arguably the greatest party on earth, the Carnival in Rio de Janeiro. They will be picked up from the ship and there will be a shuttle running to and from the Carnival throughout the evening.
In addition, every year Azamara Club Cruises offers an annual Monaco Formula One Grand Prix voyage, which is always hugely popular.
Docekal says that the Destination Immersion concept allows him to ensure that each itinerary offers opportunities for longer stays in port, more overnights and night touring. The average cruise docking time is 9am to 5pm; however, guests of Azamara are in port on average from 7am to 10pm, allowing 87% more time to make use of shore excursion possibilities. He notes that many ports (such as St Tropez) come alive at night, offering a different experience than in the daytime. Seasonal changes matter too: “We visit the best places at the best times of the year, being sensitive to seasons and local events in order for our guests to experience a destination at its best,” he says. “We visit diverse and unique ports to widen the appeal and ensure that all destination interests are catered for. Itineraries feature large ports, as well as smaller exotic ‘marquee’ small-ship ports. As part of this we also look to balance the convenience of both tender and docking ports.”
Azamara’s other considerations for itinerary planning include bunkering (fuel cost and availability), ideal ship speed, provisioning, crew rest hours, garbage removal ashore, local laws, port fees and taxes, air gateways, political situations, international holidays and average weather and sea conditions. Quite a daunting list for any cruise line, but Docekal says the guest experience is always a primary focus. “Itineraries change annually for our operation but are carefully curated to appeal to travellers who want to see famous destinations as well as less-travelled ports off the beaten path.”
This article appeared in the Itinerary Planning Special Report. To read more articles, you can subscribe to the magazine in printed or digital formats.