Get Away With Fran

December 9, 2009

Azamara gets club-y and more all-inclusive

Filed under: Uncategorized — admin @ 2:14 pm

AZA_Journey_Exterior3 If you haven’t yet tried the upscale, small-ship line, Azamara, you are not alone. (I haven’t for one.) Looking to make sure more people get onboard the two-year-old line, owned by Royal Caribbean, officials have done some tweaking including a new name – Azamara Club Cruises. The word “club” is designed to make the experience sound, well, clubby, as in “I belong,” as in exclusive.

The line’s President and CEO Larry Pimentel also announced this week that ACC is going mostly all-inclusive. No more “nickel-and-diming” for things like house wine at lunch and dinner, gratuities, soft drinks and specialty coffees – they’ll all be included in the cruise fare beginning in April.

And to pay for all that fares will be going up.

 AZA_Journey_DeckChairs2

Also, in a bid to attract more people who like to spend time on land and haven’t, perhaps, considered cruising before, the line will be spending more time in ports, allowing for more contact with locals and including overnights in cities like Istanbul and Sorrento. In Pimentel’s words, the ships are “slowing down.” The line’s new tagline is “you’ll love where we take you.”

AZA_Journey_LGlass

ACC’s two ships, Journey and Quest, are world-travelers (they visit 50 countries), attract an international clientele and are, from all I hear, fine little, 694-passenger vessels with cushy lounges and decent dining (the ships used to be part of the fleet of now-defunct Renaissance Cruises). Pimentel calls them “magnificent jewel boxes,” but then again it’s his job to do that.

But why the redo? Pimentel used to head SeaDream Yacht Club and before that Seabourn and he knows his stuff. And Royal Caribbean would really like to turn a profit on these ships, which previously seemed a bit of an afterthought to sister line Celebrity Cruises.

Other changes announced by Pimentel include a retraining of butlers for suites to be “real British” butlers. Now that should be worth the higher fares.

Pimentel also announced a new loyalty program for the brand, Le Club Voyage. Now that sounds like a club I’d like to join.

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