Australians advancing on Azamara
Australia is the third largest market for Azamara Club Cruises, and the top choice of destination if a third ship is added to the fleet. The growth in local sales for the upmarket Azamara Club has been "monumental", according to Edie Bornstein, the company's Senior Vice President, who visited Sydney recently.
"Azamara is really resonating with Aussies," she said. "On a recent Singapore to Shanghai cruise, over 200 guests were Australian - about one-third of the capacity of the ship." Asia is our favourite choice, she said, but there is also "a high number" of Australians on all sailings in Europe and South America.
However, there are no solid plans to base a vessel in Australia in the near future - not until a third ship is ordered. "We would certainly love to be here but we would need to grow beyond the two vessels, and as we grow the fleet, Australia would be the number-one goal," Bornstein said.
Azamara is Royal Caribbean's premium line and operates "destination-immersive" voyages onboard the 694-passenger Quest and Journey. Although not priced as a top-level luxury cruise, Azamara's perks include complimentary wine with lunch and dinner, overnight port stays and 50% off shore excursions if booked online at least four days prior to departure.
"It's tremendous value," Bornstein said. Many passengers are first-timers, she added, as "just under 22% have never cruised before, and many of them are seasoned travellers who thought they'd never cruise." Bornstein said Azamara competes with boutique hotels rather than other cruise lines "because our distinction is that we have longer stays, more overnights and night touring."
A recent overnight 'Land Discovery' took cruise passengers from Bangkok to Angkor Wat in Cambodia. The company also offers charters for group bookings of a minimum 250 couples. "We would love to do an Australian charter," Bornstein said.
The biggest markets for Azamara Club Cruises are the US (about 50% of passengers), UK and Australia, followed by Canada and Germany.
Source: Cruise Weekly, Tuesday 27 March 2012