Thursday, June 17

Interview with Sophie Higgins, Head of Sales UK, Azamara Club Cruises

1. Azamara Club Cruises are still relatively unknown in the UK, can you explain the essence of Azamara Club Cruises?
Azamara Club Cruises is part of Royal Caribbean Cruise Ltd and is the upscale, boutique brand within the portfolio. Everything we offer on board is uniquely presented and each cruise focuses on complete destination immersion – we have 2 ships in the fleet but we visit 140 ports which is an incredible global deployment and mean that no two cruises are the same.

2. Who would Azamara Club Cruises appeal to?
This is very much a brand for the discerning traveller who wants to take time to get to know a port or city. As with any boutique brand, our two ships, Azamara Journey and Azamara Quest sail with only 650 guests, so there is a more intimate feel from the moment guest’s board. We’ve also really slowed down the experience so that itineraries include much longer stays in ports such as 3-nights in St Petersburg or multiple overnight stays in Southeast Asia, including Ho Chi Minh City, Bangkok, Singapore and Hong Kong. Guests who enjoy the finer things in life will really love this brand.

3. Who are Azamara Club Cruises main competitors and what makes Azamara Club Cruises unique?
What makes us unique is our ability to visit more ports and really let the guest get up-close-and-personal with the cities that we travel too, even those that are slightly further afield such as a 3-night excursion from Mumbai to take in the Taj Mahal. None of our itineraries are ‘round-trips’, which means that guests can create their own bespoke itinerary depending on the number of itineraries or land-based excursions they combine. We’ve realised that ‘one-size’ doesn’t fit all and by offering real destination immersion to our guests that this value is not attainable elsewhere. We recognise that upmarket boutique land based hotels are our competitors.

4. Why do you think Azamara Club Cruises offers value for money?
It is the entire package that one of our cruises offers, as well as the host of items that are included – our guests enjoy bottled water, sodas, speciality coffees and teas offered at no charge throughout the voyage, whether in public venues or in staterooms, as well as house wines during their meals. Our housekeeping and dining gratuities are also included in the price of the cruise. We provide shuttlebus service to/from port communities, where available at no extra cost to the guest.

Combine this with the destinations and itineraries and we have already received the most amazing feedback from customers who loved the intimate experience and personal service levels.

5. Can you tell us about Azamara Club Cruises itineraries and best destinations?
All our itineraries are unique in that they do not have the same embarkation and disembarkation ports – and guests can create their own bespoke cruise as by connecting any number of the 7-night itineraries consecutively. I think we offer some truly wonderful destinations but I’d certainly like to be able to take advantage of the wonderful opportunities offered such as watching the Grand Prix from the ship whilst in Monte Carlo.

6. Azamara Cruises recently changed their name to Azamara Club Cruises. What other changes have been made?
We made a number of changes in January to the brand which were implemented over a course of a couple of months. The most significant would be the name change, as the brand became known as Azamara Club Cruises.

The other key changes revolve around enhancing the senses, seeing the destinations; savouring the wine and cuisine on board/in port, listening and expanding knowledge through our enrichment and land programmes; touching all of our guests with extraordinary service; and breathing in a healthier lifestyle with programmes to help guests balance their physical, emotional, social, spiritual and intellectual needs.

7. What is your favourite element of Azamara Club Cruises?
For me it has to be the opportunity to really explore exciting destinations in the comfort and intimate style onboard an Azamara vessel. Plus of course the extensive choice of complimentary ice creams found onboard are pretty amazing!

8. In one sentence, why should people cruise with Azamara Club Cruises?
Simply because, anyone who sails with us will simply love where our ships will take them.

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