Celebrity Introduces New Deluxe Cruise Line: "Azamara C
5-10-07: Celebrity Introduces New Deluxe Cruise Line: "Azamara Cruises"
Celebrity Cruises marked the launch of their new 710-guest ship which sets sail tomorrow, by introducing an entirely new, deluxe cruise brand: Azamara Cruises.
Designed to offer exotic destination-driven travel experiences, Azamara Cruises - consisting of Azamara Journey, which sets sail May 5, and sister ship, Azamara Quest, which enters service in October - will present a more intimate onboard experience, while allowing access to the less-traveled ports of call experienced travelers want to visit.
"We created Azamara Cruises to target an area of the market that we believe is underserved, and an area this product is ideally suited to fill," said Richard Fain, Chairman and CEO of Royal Caribbean Cruises Limited, parent company of Azamara Cruises. "This new line falls into what we consider the deluxe category - a category between premium and luxury."
Complementing the exotic Caribbean and Europe itineraries for Azamara Journey and Azamara Quest, previously announced under the former "Celebrity Expeditions" banner, Hanrahan today announced that Azamara Cruises' itineraries will not only take travelers to some of the most desirable locations in the Caribbean, but will immerse them in Asia, and even transport them around the world. Itinerary details for Azamara Cruises' Asia and world cruises are yet to be announced, but once finalized, the line expects to visit more than 200 ports - most of them new to cruise travelers - in over 70 countries.
Guests will enjoy a more exclusive guest experience. Azamara Journey and Azamara Quest offer butler service in every stateroom and suite, as well as concierge-style amenities, including fresh-cut flowers, fresh fruit, Elemis toiletries, complimentary use of Frette cotton robes, two complimentary pairs of slippers, plasma TVs and plush European bedding. Despite the ships' smaller size, each offers two specialty restaurants: On Azamara Journey, the Mediterranean-influenced "Aqualina" and the stylish steak and seafood restaurant, "Prime C." Guests staying in suites will receive two nights of complimentary dining in one of the two specialty restaurants, while guests in staterooms will receive one. The ships will not require formal attire for dining, and will feature open seating in the main dining room.
Azamara Cruises also presents a wine bar with a spectacular wine cellar offering wine and champagne tastings, seminars, and mini-pairings of food and wine, in addition to its standard menu of fine wines by the glass or bottle.
Azamara Journey and Azamara Quest offer an enhanced emphasis on spa and relaxation, with treatments many cruise travelers have never experienced. Guests in suites can enjoy certain spa services in the privacy of their room. Both ships also will offer an outdoor spa relaxation lounge and an aesthetics suite offering acupuncture, laser hair removal and microdermabrasion.
An onboard "excursion expert" will not only help guests select shore excursions based on their personal interests, but also will serve as a destination guide, offering information about the culture and history of each port of call. The Azamara retail experience onboard also will be enticing to most experienced travelers, with its focus on fine art, sculpture, photography, jewelry, and upscale resort wear.
Just prior to setting sail on its maiden voyage May 5, Azamara Journey completed a four-week, approximately $19-million makeover, highlighted by the conversion of 48 staterooms into 32 suites, a complete refurbishment of the dining areas to create the two new specialty restaurants, an expansion of the spa area to include an aesthetics suite, a new Sunset Bar on the aft deck, a new art collection, Cova Café, entirely new carpets and flooring throughout, new exterior decking, new paint schemes, new walls, and entirely new "soft goods," ranging from plush European bedding to cushions, drapes and table linens.
The name "Azamara" is a coined term, rooted in Romance language references to blue ("aza"), the sea ("mar"), and a lesser-known word, "acamar," which, in Classical times, was the southernmost bright star that could be seen from the latitude of Greece. Hanrahan said the company views the new brand as "a bright star on the deep blue sea."
Azamara Cruises presents the best of Bermuda and Panama Canal/South America in 2007, elite Asia and the most captivating Caribbean, South America and Europe in 2008, and around-the-world voyages in 2010. For more information, travel agents are encouraged to call 1-877-222-2526. Guests are invited to call 1-877-999-9553. Or, visit www.azamaracruises.com.
UPDATE - Azamara Cruises delayed the departure of Azamara Journey's inaugural voyage by one day due to last minute work needed on the ship. The ship was scheduled to depart from Cape Liberty Cruise Port in Bayonne, New Jersey, on Saturday (May 5) for a weeklong Bermuda cruise. The ship will now depart on Sunday (May 6) and miss one day in Bermuda.
I am the editor, but I also speculate, ask questions and play devil's advocate. I reserve the right to change my mind.
I am always a little leary of any name I can't easily pronounce.
Seriously, though ... the only reason I can't see myself sailing this new line anytime soon is due to their restrictive smoking policies onboard. They don't allow smoking in the cabins ... and that's a deal breaker for me.
First of all, while the cruise sound very cool - exotic initeraries and butlers with every cabin,..
But what do you think of the name?
Seriously, since these are the old R-ships, which Oceania, Celebrity, Princess and now Azamara all have - which one would you sail on and why?
Are they all going to end up giving you the same thing at the same price point, or will there be a real difference someday?
Who knows. Has anyone here been on one of the R-ships now in the control of someone other than Oceania? I haven't.
I must admit that I'm completely miffed by both (1) the sudden change of name from "Celebrity Expeditions" to "Azamara Cruises" and (2) the timing of this change.
>> 1. I can't help but wonder how stunned many of the ship's passengers must be when they discover, upon arrival in New Jersey, that the cruises that they booked aboard MV Zenith of Celebrity Cruises are suddenly aboard not only a different ship (that was expected), but now are aboard a completely different line. If I went to the pier in New Jersey and suddenly discovered that the ship was now MV Azamara Journey when I had been promised MV Celebrity Journey, I'm not sure how I would have reacted... but I think it is very likely that I would have walked away, returned home, and demanded a full refund not only of the cruise fare, but also of the air fare and other expenses, on the basis that the company was not delivering the product for which I had contracted. Substitution of a different ship -- expressly allowed in the Contract of Passage -- is one thing, but substitution of a different cruise line is quite another. I would be surprised if this is not an ongoing problem. At the very least, I would think that the company should have introduced the newly acquired and reconfigured vessel as MV Celebrity Journey, offering the regular Celebrity Cruises product, for the Summer 2007 Bermuda season.
>> 2. I'm still completely dumbfounded by the company's failure to announce the change in brands before the company issued the press release announcing that the first ship of the new line had entered service. The company must have known of the change at least a couple weeks earlier, as it changed the name of the ship from MV Celebrity Journey to MV Azamara Journey in the process. The company had to communicate this change to the shipyard in time for the shipyard to put the correct name on the hull -- IOW, at least a couple weeks before the ship emerged from the shipyard. The company should have announced the change in the name of the new line before accepting bookings that would operate under the new brand.
>> 3. Backing up a step, I'm completely miffed by the company's decision NOT to add these vessels to the "Celebrity Cruises" fleet. It would have been fairly simple to remodel one of the specialty dining rooms into centersfor children, youth, and teens and to remodel the other into a specialty restaurant comparable to the specialty restaurants on the vesselse of Celebrity's Millennium class. Further, Celebrity Cruises now has the smallest fleet of any major cruise line, with only seven ships, so these vessels would have allowed the line to open new routes in anticipation of the arrival of larger vessels.
It looks like I will be sailing The Azamara Journey on 11/29/2007 - 12/11/2007 South America cruise from Sao Paulo. I'm looking forward to the cruise and VERY interested in how Azamara has refurbished the ship. My wife loved the R ships.
I could not pass up the price and the chance to sail the Journey after a reasonable amount of time had passed so Azamara could work out the flaws but the main reason was the Brasilian, Uruguay and Buenous Aires ports. It's something my wife and I have wanted to do for a long time.
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>> 1. I can't help but wonder how stunned many of the ship's passengers must be when they discover, upon arrival in New Jersey, that the cruises that they booked aboard MV Zenith of Celebrity Cruises are suddenly aboard not only a different ship (that was expected), but now are aboard a completely different line.
And I wonder how those passengers who are smokers are going to feel when they board her and find out about the very restrictive smoking policies onboard, including no smoking in the cabins or or balconies. I know I would go absolutely ballistic and would demand a full refund, along with an airplane ticket home.
This is even worse than what HAL did to us smokers in April when they tightened up smoking regulations as of April 1st, without any advance notice to passengers who were already booked. Apparently, deck hands began removing the ashtrays from the tables on the Lido Deck early that morning, before the previous cruise passengers had even disembarked. As of that April 1st departure, there would be no more smoking under the magrodome, and the casino would have alternating smoking and smoke-free days. But while we smokers were upset about it, at least we could still smoke in some venues, including our cabins and on balconies. I can't imagine what the fallout would have been had we boarded and found that we could no longer smoke in our cabins.
I can only wonder how these Azamara passengers felt ... especially the smokers ... as they prepared to board. Musta been interesting, that's for sure.