With two ships that carry 694 passengers each, Azamara Club Cruises is still a relatively unknown name in the cruise industry. Quoted recently in Seatrade Insider, a trade publication, the company’s President and CEO Larry Pimentel said of the Azamara brand: “My biggest problem is awareness. It’s not performance.”
See related video: Azamara Club Cruises’ Biggest Challenge: An Interview With Larry Pimentel
Awareness of the brand is not a new problem either. See our story from 2008, Why You Should Cruise Azamara Now.
Since Pimentel took the helm in July 2009, Azamara has become more inclusive as well as more destination immersive. The Avid Cruiser’s take? Azamara Club Cruises offers a quality product at a good value. The changes brought forth by Pimentel have added even more value to the Azamara cruise experience, although prices have increased from the exceptional buys of Azamara’s early days. Azamara’s main competitor, and certainly a formidable one, Oceania Cruises. On the new and improved Azamara Club Cruises, for example, wine with lunch and dinner as well as gratuities are now included in the cost of the cruise. In addition, the line also offers free specialty coffees, sodas and bottled water; self-service laundry machines; and shuttles in port towns. Passengers have made it clear that they don’t want to be nickel-and-dimed on high-end ships.
Azamara has also broadened its itineraries and now offers longer stays in ports (many departures are at 8 p.m. or later). Azamara also offers more overnight stays than it did in the past.
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At 60 percent of the ports they visit, Azamara’s two vessels now stay late into the evening, and overnight in 38 destinations, more than triple of what was offered in the past. Also, in some destinations two-night stays are becoming more common, giving passengers three days of touring.
Dining in the main restaurant is open-seating. Both ships also feature the specialty restaurants Prime C and Aqualina. Specialty dining is complimentary for suite guests every night, with a $15 charge for stateroom guests.
Also featured on both ships is the AquaSpa, which offers a host of spa treatments and massages, as well as gyms equipped with the latest in exercise equipment. Exercise classes include yoga, Pilates and a number of cardiovascular based work-outs.
Chinese acupuncture is offered, as well as the services of massage therapists.
Visit Ralph’s web site, www.avidcruiser.com, to contact him and for additional articles about cruising.