Around 20% more travel agents are selling Azamara Club Cruises since the line introduced its new ship Azamara Pursuit, boss Larry Pimentel has revealed.
Pursuit, the line’s third vessel, was christened in Southampton on Tuesday evening (August 28).
Azamara announced plans to acquire the 777-passenger Renaissance-class ship, which previously sailed as P&O Cruises Adonia, in September last year.
It has since undergone an extensive refit in the Harland and Wolff shipyard in Belfast, the first time Royal Caribbean Cruises Ltd (RCCL) had chosen a UK shipyard for such a project.
Speaking during a pre-christening press conference onboard, Pimentel, the line’s president and chief executive, said Azamara had seen “around a 21-22%” increase globally in the number of agents working with it since Pursuit was introduced this year.
He said adding a third ship to its fleet, alongside Azamara Journey and Azamara Quest, had, from a retail perspective, allowed the line “to be more relevant”.
Pimentel described how Azamara was developing rail-and-sail programmes using luxury train experiences onboard Belmond and Rocky Mountaineer as well as working with escorted tour operator Cox & Kings to build new pre- and post-sail itineraries “allowing guests to be even more immersive in the destination”.
Speaking later during the christening ceremony, Pimentel, who joined Azamara in 2010, said having the chance to lead and develop the line’s Destination Immersion strategy, built around longer stays in port, more overnights and locally-focused experiences, was “one of the finest of my professional career”.
“In those early days we were concentrating on the smallest of the ships but we soon discovered that, while precious, small was simply not enough,” he told guests.
“What could our claim be as a cruise line? How could we be different? This is when we changed from Azamara Cruises to Azamara Club Cruises. We took bold and decisive decisions to build our brand around the concept of Destination Immersion - it was about thinking outside the ship."
Richard Fain, RCCL chairman, said he believed the line’s focus on destination was “the very foundation of Azamara and its success.”
“Larry has continued to build on the brand and set us apart from our competitors. They say imitation is the most serious form of flattery and if so, Larry has been highly complimented over the years,” he said during the naming ceremony.
“A few years ago the concept of Destination Immersion was novel – today all our competitors employ the concept."
Fain said the name Pursuit was “fitting” considering the style of cruising Azamara will deploy the ship for.
“The ship represents the pursuit of exploring the world and its unparalleled destinations,” he explained.
“Being here tonight to welcome a new member of the [RCCL] family makes me so proud…she was well worth the wait.”
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