Tuesday, 31 January 2017

Azamara triples down on destination-focused cruising

Azamara triples down on destination-focused cruising

Image result for azamara quest
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."