Azamara Club Cruises recently debuted a new ad campaign focused on the importance of destinations in the overall cruise vacation experience themed ‘The Voyage For Those Who Love Travel’ , socially tagged simply ‘#LoveTravel.’ When hearing of this effort, my first thought was “oh, what an accurate description for what they do”, based on our 2012 sailing of Azamara Journey that clearly defined destination immersion. Taking a deeper look at what Azamara is doing today, it became apparent: this is far more than a marketing campaign.
A Quick Look Back
We sailed an itinerary titled Castles, Distilleries And Pubs on 694-passenger Azamara Journey, one of the two twin ships in the Azamara Club Cruises fleet. Nicely sized at 30, 277 tons, 181 meters in length and less than 6 meters in depth, Azamara Journey is a ship that can get into places larger ships cannot. That fact alone opened doors to some amazing destinations not often seen on cruise ship itineraries.
Perhaps forced into the business of destination immersion initially, Azamara Journey was originally the sixth ship of the eight “R-Class” ships built in 2000 for now-defunct Renaissance Cruises shipping company named “R Six”. Azamara Club Cruises was born in 2008 when Azamara Journey and her sister ship Azamara Quest (the former R Seven) were Royal Caribbean spun the two ships out of their Pullmantur division to form the upmarket cruise line. It made sense to focus that effort off the (older) ship and on to (timeless) destinations. And that they did.
That Castles, Distilleries and Pubs itinerary clearly defined destination immersion, a relatively meaningless term to this fan of big ship cruising. It was at a time when success in the world of cruising was heavily weighted toward what happens on the ship and not so much ashore. Ships were being built bigger and with more features than ever before. Top deck and interior attractions were designed to occupy our time without a whole lot of regard for engaging us intellectually. Indeed, it would probably be better not to do so for fear we would not spend as much onboard, where a great amount of cruise ship revenue comes from.
Enabling A Second New World Of Travel
Don’t get me wrong, there is huge value in big ship cruising. That value has opened up a new world of travel to millions who might not have otherwise been exposed to it. The Azamara product simply showed more respect for cruise travelers, opening up a second new world for those who were ready to move beyond the big ship experience.
“We deliver on our promise to provide our guests with authentic, local, and in most cases exclusive, experiences in each country and port of call we visit, allowing them to return home feeling enriched, educated and enlightened.”- Larry Pimentel, President and CEO of Azamara Club Cruises.
On our initial Azamara sailing , we discovered the scenic beauty of Scotland, Ireland and Northern Wales before heading to France, ending in Rouen. Five late-night stays, plus overnights in Dublin and Rouen (a gateway to Paris), allowed us to discover gardens and castles by day and enjoy legendary pubs and restaurants at night. I was sold.
Our First Azamara Club Cruises Voyage
Azamara Journey, under the command of Captain Johannes Tysse, was the vehicle that took us to some of the world’s most spectacular scenic sights, including the famous Loch Ness, as well as cruising up the scenic Seine river in Rouen. Along the way, we stopped by some of the best whiskey distilleries and famous beer breweries in the world.
We discovered Balfour Castle on Scotland’s island of Shapinsay and went on a private behind-the-scenes tour. We went on a ride through the stunning Scottish countryside, passing the Cuillin mountain range on route to Eilean Castle, reputed as the most photographed in Scotland. We traveled on the world famous Ffestiniog railway through the Welsh countryside, arriving in Blaenau Ffestiniog then traveling to Betws-y-Coed to enjoy lunch. An entire day was spent exploring Normandy’s lush green pastures and apple orchards while visiting Fromagerie Graindorge and Chateau Breuil calvados distillery. We stopped in the seaside town of Deauville and Trouville for a lunch and exploration before heading to Hornfleur to visit the charming town.
At the time tagged a catchy “Azamazing” experience, The Voyage For Those Who Love Travel looks to be a natural evolution of what we enjoyed on the Castles, Distilleries and Pubs itinerary. Since then, Azamara has further polished what they do, investing in and refining their Land Discoveries program for even more impact on cruise travelers. New elements have been added to the standard fare that support their commitment to destination immersion.
Planning on Amazing, We Begin With A Promise
In June, we return to Azamara Club Cruises for an Isles of Croatia Voyage that looks to be incredible and a good test of what today’s Azamara is all about. In addition to three different targeted stops in Croatia, the 12-night sailing includes two ports in Greece, one in Italy and another in Montenegro. Sailing round-trip from Istanbul, the Turkish port makes a total of five countries plus a number of days at sea.
Planning ahead as we do in advance of any destination-focused journey, I was reminded of the rich history in this part of the world while viewing an episode of Building Wonders on PBS’ Nova series. Getting to work on that research, we have an @exposure photo storybook aptly titled Preparing For Amazing to chronicle our pre-cruise research efforts. There, we spare you the tedious detail and add new information about the ports and destinations we will visit on what looks to be an epic journey.
Check our Preparing For Amazing storybook frequently as we are adding more information every week in preparation of this voyage.
Learn More About Azamara Club Cruises
There are a variety of engaging sources available today that did not exist when we sailed with Azamara Club Cruises in 2012. To start, let’s take a look at their new video-
Also updated and reflective of travelers using digital platforms to research and discuss travel, Azamara’s #LoveTravel focus has a strong presence across its Facebook, Twitter, Google+, Pinterest, Instagram social media channels.