Azamara Club Cruises is the refined lady of the cruise world with two identical boutique ships that combine the best of classic charm with stylish elegance.
Think lashings of dark wood panelling adorned with gleaming brass; wrought iron balustrades and swanky restaurants that add to the unashamedly opulent ambience of its two midsize ships Azamara Journey and Azamara Quest.
Carrying just 690 passengers each, the duo have successfully styled themselves as floating boutique hotels, bridging the gap between premium cruise companies (Azamara describes itself as ‘premium-plus’) and the upmarket Six Star lines.
But that’s not all. Beneath its classic facade lies the wandering spirit of an adventurer and innovator which has pioneered some of the significant trends to take root in the cruising world in recent years.
Azamara may be a cruise line, but its heart lies ashore and its raison d’etre is to bring port calls alive and enable passengers to get under the skin of every place they visit in the most vibrant and imaginative ways.
The line was the first to coin the phrase ‘destination immersion’ when it broke the mould by announcing that its ships would spend longer in popular ports, either staying until late into the evening or mooring overnight, so clients could experience a different side to the destination after other ships and day-trippers departed.
Now the phrase, and the late stays and overnights, have become commonplace across the cruise industry.
Another Azamara twist was the introduction of complimentary special experiences, dubbed AzAmazing Evenings, held once during each cruise and ranging from private dinners in exquisite settings to soaring acrobatic displays or high-brow orchestral performances.
More recently, the line bolstered its shore programme with even more novel options under the tag: Cruise Global, Connect Local that ushered in a raft of locally-inspired activities and experiences.
Until now, Azamara has been somewhat overshadowed by its bigger sisters Royal Caribbean International and Celebrity Cruises, but this looks set to change with the imminent arrival of its third ship Azamara Pursuit.
Currently sailing as P&O Cruises’ Adonia, it will be renamed in Southampton this August in something of a watershed moment for a line that is deservedly making more of an impression in the UK market.