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  #1  
Old October 1st, 2012, 10:39 AM
Bill Leiber Bill Leiber is offline
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Default AZAMARA'S BIG ANNOUNCEMENT: More Amenities added for Up-Market Travelers

Hello Azamara Club Cruises Followers -

It's Monday, October 1st, and now it's time for me to share with you that the onboard Azamara guest experience will soon include the new AzAmazing Evening, an immersive complimentary destination event ashore featured on every voyage. In addition, we are introducing a selection of complimentary standard spirits, wines and international beers throughout the ship during the bars’ opening hours. Both offerings will begin with Azamara Quest's and Azamara Journey’s next Europe season, March 27 and May 15, 2013, respectively.

To provide you with comprehensive information about these enhancements, I've merged content from today's press release with more program details from internal training documents.

Complimentary AzAmazing Evening event ashore
“Azamara Club Cruises’ guests have an unquenchable desire to immerse themselves in the history, culture and night life of the destinations we visit, which is why we offer them longer stays, more overnights and night touring,” said Larry Pimentel, president and CEO of Azamara Club Cruises. “This new concept is an evolution of Azamara’s core differentiator that resonates with our guests, who love their time onboard, but have made it clear that the cruise experience extends to their time ashore. With these new amenities added to Azamara Club Cruises, guests are offered an unmatched vacation experience at a tremendous value.”

One-hundred percent of Azamara’s 2013 itineraries feature late-night departures and overnight port stays, some as long as two or three days. This concept of slowing the ships down to offer guests the opportunity to experience a city’s night life, is an almost unique concept in the cruise industry that will now be further showcased through "AzAmazing Evening" - destination affairs to remember.

The complimentary evening ashore varies from voyage to voyage, offering guests sailing consecutive voyages a wide variety of experiences. During the events all interested guests will be transported via private motorcoaches to an unforgettable evening. These are "exclusive" events for our guests. You won’t find anyone else who is there from another cruise line or tour group. We have worked with our tour vendors to make sure that AzAmazing Evenings are private and unique.

For example, here are the first AzAmazing Evening events that will "kick-off" the program:
§ Azamara Quest starts on the March 27, 2013 voyage and is called the "Tastes and Traditions of Andalucia." A visit to cellars and sherry tasting, private performance at school for horsemanship, wine and an excellent and abundant array of Spanish foods in the Carriage Museum.
§ Azamara Journey begins on the May 15, 2013 voyage and is a Classical Concert at the Roman theater at Shoni Fortress. A lively Klezmer band welcomes guests as they arrive at this ancient Roman arena. Stands offering typical Israeli food and beverages will be scattered around. A symphony orchestra will add drama to an already striking setting.

Here are other highlights:
§ Guests on the June 22 Baltic Azamara Quest's voyage, will be treated to a private reception and ballet performance at the Mikhailovsky Theater, heralded as one of the most beautifully preserved ballet theaters in the world.
§ Or, on the October 8 Holy Land Azamara Journey's voyage, guests will be treated to a reception and classical concert at the Ancient Caves of Beit Guvrin.
§ Guests sailing a Baltic voyage, for example, could enjoy a private ballet performance in St. Petersburg, Russia, while walking the red carpet and sipping champagne. Or those on a Mediterranean voyage may find themselves sampling Jerez, Spain’s, famous sherry wine at Gonzalez Byass and later enjoying a private equestrian ballet at the Royal Andalusian School of Equestrian Art.

The new AzAmazing Evening events will replace the current 50% Land Discoveries Savings program with an exclusively designed customized experience that will provide guests with an even greater value that further emphasizes the night touring concept and highlights a region’s culture and distinct personality. Frankly, our LDS savings program was used by only a small percentage of our guests and now we're offering an experience that can benefit 100% of our guests and deliver memories that can last a lifetime.

In the meantime, the 50% Land Discoveries Savings program will be available for guests who book their Land Discoveries online at least four days prior to the 2013 sailing dates on following last voyages:
§ Azamara Quest - March 14, 2013, 13-night "Florida & Seville" Voyage
§ Azamara Journey - May 1, 2013, 14-night "The Highway from India" Voyage

Note that shore excursion pricing that will be shown on our website, will be consistent and at one level, whether pre-booked online or purchased on board.

AzAmazing Evenings - Program Operation
§ Note that the European voyages that will feature the AzAmazing Evening events have not been open for sale for shore excursions; however, the majority of the Land Discoveries for the full year of 2013 will be available sometime in mid-October.
§ AzAmazing Evening events will be added to the itineraries for each voyage on the website to help travelers choose a voyage based on the AzAmazing Evening that most resonates with them.
§ AzAmazing Evening events will also be added to a new 2013 Destination Guide for travel agents and consumers, which is scheduled for release some time before mid-November.
§ AzAmazing Evening events generally range from 2 to 3 hours long and most are unique to each voyage and spotlight the authentic culture and flavors of each destination.
§ At every AzAmazing Evening event, food and beverages will be provided to guests. Some events are sit-down performances with dinner served, while others are reception style with heavy passed hors d’oeuvres.
§ While AzAmazing Evening events are complimentary for every guest and because of the operational per guest cost, we need to ensure that the space reserved for each guest does not go to waste. Therefore, guests will be required to acknowledge their participation in the AzAmazing Evening event by booking the event just like any shore excursion online and the price will show zero. Also, there will be the option to book once onboard; however, for operational efficient, we prefer to know the level of participation at the outset of each voyage and encourage booking online prior to departure.
§ We ask that guests who reconsider and decide not to participate inform the shore excursion desk by 10 PM the night prior to the AzAmazing event so we can plan transportation and event participation accordingly. NOTE: Guests who signed up to participate and did not cancel by 10 PM the night prior will be charged a per person cancellation fee from $100 - $200 depending on the voyage's area of operation. Onboard credits cannot be used to cover this fee.
§ We anticipate a high level of participation because we believe our guests are choosing Azamara for a destination immersive experience but we recognize that some events may not appeal to each and every one of our guests. Consequently, if a guest chooses not to participate because of a difference in their taste or style, we will not be able to offer any onboard credit or a substitution tour.
§ At this time, guests who wish to redeem their onboard credit as payment for Land Discoveries (shore excursions) will be required to so once onboard the vessel and will be charged the same amount shown on website. For guests who want to guarantee their Land Discovery space prior to departure, our online system currently is unable to process onboard credits as a form of payment. Further, guests cannot pre-book their Land Discoveries on the website system with their credit card and then once onboard, cancel and then rebook using their onboard credit. Again, system limitations. We are considering other options to provide guests with onboard credits the opportunity to pre-arrange their Land Discoveries and I'll keep you informed on our progress.

Expansion of Complimentary Beverages - Addition of standard spirits, wines and international beers
Also new, beginning with the 2013 Europe season, is the expansion of Azamara’s complimentary beverage offerings:
§ Azamara Quest, March 27, 2013 voyage
§ Azamara Journey, May 15, 2013 voyage
In addition to Azamara’s existing selection of complimentary boutique wines, served at lunch and dinner, guests will enjoy a wider complimentary selection that includes a selection of standard spirits, wines and international beers throughout the day at any of the ships’ bars and lounges.

As a reminder, Azamara guests already enjoy more inclusive amenities, such as included gratuities for housekeeping, dining and bar staff; complimentary bottled water, soft drinks, specialty coffees, teas, and complimentary red and white boutique wines to accompany lunch and dinner, complimentary self-service laundry; English Butler service for suite guests; and shuttle transportation to city centers in ports, where available.

Our decision to include select spirits, wines and international beers was to enhance the onboard experience by making the beverage ordering process significantly more convenient, while delivering more value to our guests. Also, it is a common offering in the up-market and luxury sectors of our industry.

Program details:
§ Here are examples of some of the spirits, wines and international beers that will be offered:
Spirits: Call brands
- Rum - Appleton, Bacardi
- Vodka - Finlandia, Smirnoff
- Tequila - Cuervo Gold, Sauza Gold
- Scotch - Cutty Sark, J&B, Johnny Walker Red


Wines: Boutique wine of the day


Beers: International selection of brands


Azamara Club Cruises' Fares to change on November 1, 2012
With the addition of the AzAmazing Evening events and expanded complimentary beverage options, the fares will be increasing on November 1, 2012.
§ During the month of October, you still will have the opportunity to take advantage of current pricing on 2013-14 voyages that already feature AzAmazing Evening events and more inclusive beverage amenities.
§ In addition, our Value Pricing will be offered with up to 50% off brochure fares on all voyages through December 2014. Savings vary by sailing and stateroom category.
§ During this first week of October, we will be communicating these changes, through a digital marketing campaign, to our travel agents, direct guests, and consumers

We believe that with these new amenities added to Azamara Club Cruises that we are offering our guests a wide variety of unmatched vacation experiences at a tremendous value.

Please use this thread for your comments and questions.

Best regards,

Bill Leiber
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  #2  
Old October 1st, 2012, 11:05 AM
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Glenndale Glenndale is offline
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As OH and I do not drink a great deal of alcohol the 'complementary' open bar will probably mean that our first cruise with Azamara will also be our last.
If it is truly complementary then the prices would not be increasing.
I would not be happy to effectively subsidize people who enjoy a drink or three
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Old October 1st, 2012, 11:10 AM
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uktog uktog is offline
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Hi Bill

Thank you for the detailed posting which is very interesting. Certainly the changes to have some appeal, the events being proposed sound lovely. You know me though, I always have questions and I wonder if I can test my understanding of some points

1. The reference to Fare Changes

Does this mean that in addition to the published 2013 fares, which have been in place for some time which will increase, the newly published 2014 fares will also increase further or have these 2014 fares already have the new costs factored in

2. Can you explain what is meant by value pricing - I am not sure this is a term that applies in the UK but maybe it does!

3. You indicate that 2013 excursions will be available shortly - is that for all cruises and not just the European ones. And if I read correctly there will be no 50% pricings say on a November 2013 India trip

4. Will the cost of LDS still be the same high level as they currently are; I was reasonably happy when I could purchase in advance and receive the 50% off, but otherwise the trips were not price comparable for an identical product as is offered by Celebrity. Alternatively, is the LDS offering being improved in some way

5. Given the extensive range of no costs spirits being offered onboard, will suite guests still have four half bottles in their suite or will they have some alternative perk given the reduced value of this perk

I am sure others will have much more detailed questions but thank you for giving us early information on this change
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Last edited by uktog; October 1st, 2012 at 11:11 AM.
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  #4  
Old October 1st, 2012, 11:18 AM
mare s. mare s. is offline
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I'm a bit underwhelmed. I'm happy with wine...might have a before dinner drink once in a while, but not enough to justify a huge price increase (especially with the liquor brands noted.) As for the one Azamazing event...that's quite nice, but if no more 50% off shore excursions, that's quite a price hit. I also see that prices are going up November 1...does that mean prices that are currently posted for 2014 (which are already significantly higher) will be going up even more? I love Azamara, but it appears we'll be priced out of the market too. I just can't justify the cost, especially on a port intensive cruise.
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  #5  
Old October 1st, 2012, 11:27 AM
marinaro44 marinaro44 is offline
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This is a step backwards not-so-well disguised as an alleged enhancement. Give me current pricing, no hard liquor, and 50% off pre-booked excursions. Bad move, Larry. You aren't going to lure Regent or Seabourn passengers with R-ships, regardless of included amenities. And you're going to lose many of us here.
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Old October 1st, 2012, 11:28 AM
Phxazzcruisers Phxazzcruisers is offline
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Bill,
I am sorry to say I am also a but unhappy. The free beer and spirits are not for us, the free wine was great and more than enough for us. We also got free liquor in our Suite which we did not drink..... I also liked the 50% off tours, as we felt that was a real benefit, we will miss that. Azamara is our cruise line of choice, but we will have to see how expensive it gets as the extras are really not for us.......
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Old October 1st, 2012, 11:31 AM
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TerryAndDoug TerryAndDoug is offline
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I don't think inclusive alcohol is worth it for such port inclusive cruises. We were in a suite on our first Azamara
cruise and couldn't even finish the free liquor included with the suite. There are also many opportunities currently available for free alcohol - captain's champagne reception, multiple past guest parties during cruise, cruise critic reception, etc... I also hate to see
The 50% discount on shore excursions done away with. The group event could be nice, but appeal of events is subjective. (I can't imagine wanting to spend time at a performance at a school for horsemanship.) I'm wondering if I made a bad decision buying an Open Passage while on our recent cruise.

Doug
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Old October 1st, 2012, 11:37 AM
cardiffmatch cardiffmatch is offline
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Thanks Bill,

1) the evening events: will there be a link to a list of these, by sailing date? It will be easier to inform decision making around vacation planning.

2) the drink packages: let's face it, the bar scene on Azamara is non-existent on any night there isn't a free cocktail party on. I think that is in no small part because people were waiting for dinner and the free wine. Since there will now be a spangly new bar in the casino area, this change will help fill the seats thus I welcome it - on our recent foray to Oceania the bars were full and the scene was lively.

3) are you sure you haven't a new ship or something tucked up your corporate sleeve somewhere?!
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Old October 1st, 2012, 11:44 AM
Lindy028 Lindy028 is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by marinaro44 View Post
This is a step backwards not-so-well disguised as an alleged enhancement. Give me current pricing, no hard liquor, and 50% off pre-booked excursions. Bad move, Larry. You aren't going to lure Regent or Seabourn passengers with R-ships, regardless of included amenities. And you're going to lose many of us here.

Sadly I have to agree , for us Azamara is perfect as it is. We are introducing our adult children to Azamara for the first time in a few weeks , and I am sad to say that it may well be our last Azamara cruise.
I do not understand why Azamara feel that this change was needed , I would say most Azamara guests are quite happy with the inclusive wines and happy to pay if they want anything other than that.
We were looking forward to finalising our available holidays for next summer and had pencilled in 2 cruises we hoped to book. Sadly I don't think we will be sailing Azamara again.
Unfortunately , this time , Azamara are taking us where we don't want to go.
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Old October 1st, 2012, 11:49 AM
JetAway JetAway is offline
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Despite the naysayers there are those of us who really appreciate all-inclusive cruises and I'm happy the wonderful Azamara ships are heading in that direction. Some of the non-drinkers may drift away but many other all-inclusive fans who currently sail Seabourn, Silversea, Regent, etc. may come over to Azamara for the same amenities that they prefer but at a better price point. Makes sense to me and many thanks.
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Old October 1st, 2012, 12:05 PM
Azulann Azulann is offline
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Going more all inclusive is wonderful. And the AAzamara evening ashore on each cruise is unique.

The best of an all inclusive , a small ship, longer ports stays, unique evening ashore, and great service.

It is a winner in my book.
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Old October 1st, 2012, 12:10 PM
Jade13 Jade13 is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Bill Leiber View Post
In the meantime, the 50% Land Discoveries Savings program will be available for guests who book their Land Discoveries online at least four days prior to the 2013 sailing dates on following last voyages:
§ Azamara Quest - March 14, 2013, 13-night "Florida & Seville" Voyage
§ Azamara Journey - May 1, 2013, 14-night "The Highway from India" Voyage


Azamara Club Cruises' Fares to change on November 1, 2012
With the addition of the AzAmazing Evening events and expanded complimentary beverage options, the fares will be increasing on November 1, 2012.
§ During the month of October, you still will have the opportunity to take advantage of current pricing on 2013-14 voyages that already feature AzAmazing Evening events and more inclusive beverage amenities.)
Bad move.

Azamara had so much trouble filling our shore excursions at 50% off last October, they will not be able to sell them at full price. Almost every shore excusion we booked last year was in danger of being canceled, although in the end most went out with around 15-18 passengers.

I would estimate the value of the evening included excursion at approx. $150.00 USD per person.

Raise the prices even more?

Last edited by Jade13; October 1st, 2012 at 12:13 PM.
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Old October 1st, 2012, 12:11 PM
Bloodaxe Bloodaxe is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by marinaro44 View Post
This is a step backwards not-so-well disguised as an alleged enhancement. Give me current pricing, no hard liquor, and 50% off pre-booked excursions. Bad move, Larry. You aren't going to lure Regent or Seabourn passengers with R-ships, regardless of included amenities. And you're going to lose many of us here.
Very sorry to say this but I have to agree, our Dec cruise will probably be the last with Azamara.
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Old October 1st, 2012, 12:13 PM
santrah santrah is offline
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I am on the fence at the moment about this inclusivity offering. The idea of including these drinks appeals, will it also include the cocktail of the day? It may help fill the Looking Glass on an evening and give the ships more evening atmosphere. One evening whilst on a recent cruise a couple sat with no drinks for over an hour watching the band and singer despite being waited on and asked and very often we saw guests in Discoveries declining coffee but asking for wine refills before retiring with their filled glasses to the lounge area. Guests may stay out later instead of retiring to their stateroom.

On my last cruise the only excursion I booked was cancelled due to lack of numbers and the smaller ports that Azamara tend to use don't always require an excursion to access the town/port area. We are independent travellers on such occassions. I will be disappointed to see the 50% off excursions though as it is a big incentive to some guests especially those that have travelled long haul to see and make the most of an area/destination. I would have used the excursions on those 'once in a lifetime' see it all cruise holidays that I am currently looking at.

Perhaps they could look at including air travel within their rates like Oceania. My recent experience with Azamara flights, hotel and transfers was superb.
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Old October 1st, 2012, 12:15 PM
Bloodaxe Bloodaxe is offline
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[quote=Bloodaxe;35546987]Very sorry to say this but I have to agree, our Dec cruise will probably be the last with Azamara & we have a future cruise certificate that we may not now make use of.
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Old October 1st, 2012, 12:17 PM
justhappytobehere justhappytobehere is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Glenndale View Post
As OH and I do not drink a great deal of alcohol the 'complementary' open bar will probably mean that our first cruise with Azamara will also be our last.
If it is truly complementary then the prices would not be increasing.
I would not be happy to effectively subsidize people who enjoy a drink or three

I couldn't have put it better Glenndale. Also we would be having to pay full price i.e. double for all our pre-booked tours, just so we can get one, we may not want to go on, free. Why not just add the "special" evening event onto the excursion programme and those that want it pay to go on it.
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Old October 1st, 2012, 12:17 PM
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Christine Frances Christine Frances is offline
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I just compared Med pricing for Jun/July 2013 (Oceania & Azamara) and they are somewhat similar with Oceania becoming more expensive a lot of times when you add in the gratuities, wine etc. I love the new evening events, they seem very "one of a kind" very special excursions. (I would truly enjoy the performance at the school for horsemanship) I am ambivalent about the included alcohol policy as I am not sure how much it is adding to the cruise cost (from what I understand the ships cost to purchase liquor is very low) and I know DH and I would make use of it. Nice not having all those chits to sign. We are booked for 2013 but we will still be looking for our 3rd Azamara cruise in the future.
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Old October 1st, 2012, 12:28 PM
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The folks at Azamara are very experienced cruise professionals and I'm sure they have "crunched" the numbers on this. If I recall correctly, the same "I'm leaving" reaction occurred when Azamara moved to its current version, with included wine. Some did leave and many more who were willing to pay a somewhat higher price for a much-enhanced product discovered Azamara. So it will be with the new changes. FWIW-Crystal, after refusing for many years to go the all-inclusive route, finally saw the hand writing on the wall and realized they had to change in order to compete for the high-value cruise market.
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Old October 1st, 2012, 12:34 PM
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excitedofharpenden excitedofharpenden is offline
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Thanks for posting the information Bill. I've had a bit of time to digest the information and these are my current feelings. At first look it appears a thinly veiled attempt at raising prices, but we'll see. I liked the 50% deal on excursions and have used it quite a few times. I'll miss that. As far as the free alcohol brands are concerned I'm not that impressed. Finlandia and Smirnoff? No thanks. I'll continue to buy my Stoli Elit. It's all very new at the moment and the acid test for me is when I come to book and see that bottom line price.

On a separate note (and this might need a thread of its own) so far I have found Azamara to be single occupancy friendly with the 125% single supplement deals offered on some cruises. Is this going to continue in future? I'm finding it increasingly difficult to see which sailings the offer applies to and the list on the UK website still includes a lot of dates that have passed and none for 2013 (although some of the flight deal cruises to Asia seem to have them when you look further). This one is a deal breaker for me as far as price is concerned.

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Old October 1st, 2012, 12:36 PM
marinaro44 marinaro44 is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by JetAway View Post
Some of the non-drinkers may drift away but many other all-inclusive fans who currently sail Seabourn, Silversea, Regent, etc. may come over to Azamara for the same amenities that they prefer but at a better price point.
Firstly, I don't think the price point will be that significantly different, and Regent, Seabourn, and Silversea passengers have been spoiled by much larger, all-veranda standard staterooms with real bathrooms. They are not going to be attracted by R-ships with undersized staterooms built for a mass-market cruise line (Renaissance). Regent's Mariner, for example, carries the same number of passengers as Journey and Quest but with nearly 50% more tonnage--and, therefore, space.

Azamara's edge is the very friendly crew and the very accessible senior officers. This supposed big deal announcement for me means just one thing: higher prices. Someone has to explain to me why that's good.

Lastly, even with the new amenities, Azamara is nowhere near, for example, Regent's inclusive offerings, which include specialty dining, standard shore excursions, and airfare--with very attractive pricing for business class upgrades, something many Regent passengers take advantage of. Wishful thinking to believe Azamara will steal passengers from them. The mantra we heard from Regent passengers we spoke with on our March Regent cruises was simple: "I'd never cruise with anyone but Regent." Snob appeal, perhaps, but I'd take their word for it.
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