Royal Caribbean Cruises to buy Adonia from P&O Cruises

Royal Caribbean Cruises to buy Adonia from P&O Cruises

Azamara Club Cruises is to buy P&O Cruises’ ship Adonia, taking its fleet to three ships.

The 30,000-ton ship will join Royal Caribbean Cruises’ upmarket Azamara fleet in March 2018.

It will be renamed Azamara Pursuit and will join two similar-sized ships – Azamara Journey and Azamara Quest.

The 704-passenger ship will undergo refurbishment before Azamara takes delivery. Information about deployment and itineraries will be released in October.

Adonia’s last cruise for P&O will be on February 23 to March 9 starting and ending in Barbados.

Guests booked on any Adonia cruises after March 2018 will be contacted directly either by P&O Cruises or their travel agent.

Adonia returned to P&O’s fleet in Southampton in June after a year on secondment to social impact brand Fathom when it ran the first US sailings from Miami to Cuba in 50 years.

Most recently, the adults-only ship has been running a series of “discovery” itineraries with P&O, including a seven-night cruise to Bordeaux, Honfleur and Guernsey.

P&O Cruises senior vice president Paul Ludlow said: “During her time with us Adonia has captured the hearts of many thousands of P&O Cruises guests. She has ventured into new ports of call around the globe and has negotiated Icelandic Fjords, European rivers and Caribbean coves. We will ensure that these discovery itineraries are continued on other ships in the fleet.

“With almost six months until Adonia leaves the fleet, we will ensure that each of the cruises in her final season with us are extra special and celebratory.”

President and chief executive of Azamara Club Cruises Larry Pimental said: “We are pleased to expand our portfolio by 50%, allowing us to visit even more regions of the world through the acquisition of this sister ship.

“Our loyal guests and travel partners have asked for this expansion for a long time; we are very pleased to deliver this to them.”

Last year, Pimentel described extra capacity in the luxury cruise sector as “too much, too quick and too fast” and warned it would drive down prices.

Earlier this month Silversea Cruises announced it would launch a new ship in 2020 and unveiled plans to build two more.

Ritz-Carlton also revealed its plans to enter the cruise sector with three yachts, while Celebrity Cruises has three ships on order, Ponant has four, and Crystal Cruises, Scenic, Seabourn and Star Clippers also have new vessels set to launch.

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Azamara Quest

Azamara Club Cruises plans to deepen its brand identity as an immersive, destination-oriented cruise line by adding more opportunities for passengers to connect locally on shore excursions and by offering more overnight and late-night port stays.

Azamara has for many years featured longer port stays and overnights, but is “tripling down” in the words of president and CEO Larry Pimentel. Marketing will be built around the phrase “Stay Longer. Experience More.,” which Pimentel, said “is not just a tagline, but a definition of brand essence.”

The two-ship line (Azamara operates the 700-passenger Quest and Journey) will offer over one thousand destination experiences “that can’t be Googled or found anywhere else because we’re creating them,” Pimentel said.

It will include over 250 overnight and late-night stays (8 p.m. or later) in ports, which is roughly 50% of all its port calls, in a total of 70 countries. He also said that over 50% of the ports on its itineraries are ones where larger ships can’t dock.

Azamara’s immersive program includes Country Intensive Voyages, a product that will allow guests to experience more of a given country, as the majority of the destinations are concentrated in one country such as Japan, Italy, Spain, Norway, New Zealand, Australia, Greece or Croatia.

Pimentel said that focus on a single country, in which a ship may visit 13 ports in 14 days, gives travel advisers an opportunity to introduce cruising to clients who otherwise might be considering a land-based tour of a country. During a presentation of the concept, he referred to Azamara as “a no-cruise cruise.”

Another new point of emphasis will be “Cruise Global, Connect Local,” a series of land programs that are designed to deliver personalized and authentic experiences. Programs are built around biking, golf, food, local celebrations and site-specific wildlife and wilderness tours, as well as overland tours either during the voyage or pre- and post-cruise.

That tagline is purposefully elastic to permit labeling of specific programs, e.g., “Cruise Global, Bike Local” or “Cruise Global, Golf Local.”

There will also be a program called Meet Local, involving immersive cultural experiences that offer people-to-people connections at the homes, farms and villas of local families, Azamara said.

“Our land product will be curated to ensure guests get to connect in a personalized and unique way with the people in the destinations they visit,” Pimentel said.

Onboard programming will be augmented to present more information than ever on local destinations ranging from local culinary and beverage selections to travel movies, lecturers and panel discussions on destinations and other relevant topics, as well as entertainment.

Pimentel, who is also “chief destination experience officer” for parent company Royal Caribbean Cruises Ltd., said that the concept could extend to other RCCL brands, but for only for “a very tiny subset” of Royal Caribbean International clients in the highest cabin classifications or a small percentage of Celebrity passengers in “rarefied suites.”

He nonetheless expects that other lines will begin to offer deeper land experiences. “It will change. People always follow a good concept.”

Azamara unveils details of Cuba cruise

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Azamara Quest due to start cruise’s from Cuba.

Azamara Club Cruises will make an overnight stay in Havana on its March 21 departure of the Azamara Quest from Miami, taking advantage of newly granted permission by the Cuban government.

The 12-day cruise will also call in Key West, Tampa and Cozumel and spend two nights in New Orleans.

The cruise opened for booking on Dec. 9, with prices starting at $2,799 per person.

Azamara said that in time, it looks to add more ports of call in Cuba into several of its itineraries.