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