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Q&A with Larry Pimentel, President & CEO, Azamara Club Cruises
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I am pleased to see so much interest in Azamara Club Cruises. Good or bad, I agree with "Greeneg" who says that "The fact that people are expressing concern is actually a measure of how much they enjoy Azamara.”
In this post I will address your questions regarding drydock and longer term plans. This seems to be a topic of great interest, as it was asked back in May, as well.
We did have extensive plans about revitalizing our ships. We still do. However, as I like to say “ship sometimes happens”! Major events occurring in the first quarter changed the decision. The unfortunate accident of Concordia slowed industry bookings initially. This combined with the large European economic downturn and our own Quest incident lead to a perfect storm and a recalibration of our efforts. Our decision was practical yet disappointing. I, too, was let down – probably more so than most. But as we move forward and business continues to grow as noted in my 1st post, we will re-address these plans.
In the meantime, we are taking both ships in to drydock, Quest on November 2nd this year in Cadiz, Spain and Journey on January 6, 2013 in Singapore, and we are doing significant refits to the ships. Below is a summary of how the ships will be enhanced:
On the culinary front, guests onboard will enjoy a new caviar and champagne bar within Aqualina, one of the ships’ two specialty dining venues, as well as a new Chef’s Table concept featuring three wine and food tasting menus – Italian, French and Californian. Mosaic Café, as well as Discoveries Restaurant and Lounge will be refurbished in a new contemporary color palette reflecting our warm and inviting ambiance. As well, the Casino Bar will be enhanced with new furniture and an expanded and new bar area.
I think you’ve heard me say that our crew is our greatest asset, and a number of enhancements will be made in our crew area, as well. The crew focus is rather significant. Among other scheduled upgrades will be new carpets and upholstery throughout the ship for a new look and feel; staterooms and suites with new mattresses, and a fresh coat of paint and upgraded balcony furniture for those with balconies. While on the sun and pool decks, guests will soon enjoy a re-surfaced pool with new sun loungers and pool towels.
Now the question of future growth and planning… The answer from earlier this year hasn’t changed much. When I joined Azamara in 2010 several people immediately asked me if I planned any additional tonnage and I told them then that I didn’t join Azamara with the intention of it remaining a two ship fleet. That is still my intention. But expanding the Azamara fleet isn’t as simple as flipping a light switch. We need to be prudent, perform our due diligence and satisfy the management of our parent company and its shareholders that we are on the right track. It would also be good if the market conditions were more favorable globally. Clearly, I believe we are on the right track from an onboard guest satisfaction perspective and forward growth looks very encouraging.
Taxjam has asked for a detailed 5-year plan. I won’t share our operating plan on Cruise Critic, but when the time is right, you will be the first to know. Having stated this, the input of the Cruise Critic members on refits and revitalization plan is significant to us as it represents an important perspective from a very engaged and passionate group of past guests. Your input, along with the opinions I receive from other markets, provides me with panoramic feedback about your visions for our vessels.
President & CEO
Azamara Club Cruises
I just wanted to say I've been cruising since the days of the Sun Viking, Nordic Empress and Song of America. I just came off of the Journey on Oct 15th and have to say it was the BEST cruise experience I've had in many, many years. It actually reminded me of my first cruise on Home Lines...service, service and more service! Great food and an even greater crew.
Thank you Larry for doing it the right way! I LOVE the new changes and have booked a future cruise to Viet Nam as a retirement gift to my husband.
RCCL - DIAMOND PLUS MEMBER
AZAMARA WORLD CRUISES - DISCOVERER LEVEL
CELEBRITY CRUISES - ELITE MEMBER
That would be great Laurie. Let's hope Azamara will provide us photos of Quest's progress. I've always wanted to visit a Drydock. I'm sure it would be fascinating. If it ever happened ? I highly recommend not asking me to weld or nail gun anything
New ships would be great with a decent size bathroom and a real shower with no curtain cling. Your cabins no matter how nicely furnished as always going to be small. I don't spend much time in my cabin except to sleep, but most women will tell you the bathroom is important.
However the smaller ship concept with fewer guests is a good difference. It is great you can get into ports larger ships can't. I hope any new ships don't grow too much so you can keep the personal touch.