Azamara: Diversifying Itineraries More

Azamara Fleet in Koper

Highlights of 2025 will include an extended Greenland program and the addition of a series of Canada and New England sailings, according to Michael Pawlus, head of itinerary planning.

“For 2025 and 2026 we are also diversifying more. We have had all our eggs in Europe (in the summer), but it is hard to predict how the politics there are going to play out, so we are looking at opportunities to balance our portfolio more now that we have four ships. And guests have been asking us why we don’t go to Canada or Alaska.

“Our formula,” continued Pawlus, “is still the same. That is, we try to offer as many late nights and overnights as possible and really play up the destinations.”

Another development for Azamara are more longer-duration voyages.

“We have gone out with dedicated marketing of grand voyages, from 45 to 100 days, and they are basically back-to-back itineraries,” Pawlus noted.

“There is a tremendous market of people who want to do two or three cruises. Australians are perfect examples. Once they fly to Europe, they do not want to do just one cruise, but can easily book three cruises in a row. Hence, I design itineraries that do not repeat (destinations).”

And because of its ship sizes, Azamara is also able to go to places big ships cannot, like Syros in Greece. Pawlus said he would call it a “mini-Mykonos.”

“We are able to dock the ship right in the harbor on the waterfront. It is kind of a less-traveled destination, so people have no expectations for it. Yet it turns out to be one of the highest rated destinations in Greece.

“Seville is another destination that is one of the best-kept secrets for Americans. With eight calls in 2025, we are able to take the ship all the way up the river to the heart of the city and usually stay for two overnights.

“Taormina in Sicily also works well for us, and we are going to Pasajes in northern Spain near the French border where we have to travel up a narrow passageway into the harbor. I have talked to Captain Johannes (Tysse) who will be on the Quest then and our plan is to call on June 8 (2025).

“The ship will be right there in the city center with the markets, the shops and everything, and being a Sunday afternoon, I expect all the locals to come out and see us as we enter and depart. We’ll be the center of attention.”

In terms of planning, Pawlus explained: “We have done a more granular fuel calculation for our 2025 and 2026 cruises to see if there were opportunities to scale back an hour here and there without impacting the experience. Fuel has gotten more important, but we have already baked fuel efficiencies into our itineraries. So that is nothing new. What we are looking at more now is the politics of the world.

“It (geopolitics) has always been there, but with four ships we are putting more product out there and while Russia is gone, we cannot go to the Black Sea, and the Red Sea is a question mark. So, for 2026, are we going to have to avoid the Suez Canal?

“The way around that is to have a balanced portfolio (of itineraries and ports) so you are able to sort things out if situations arise,” Pawlus added.

“Azamara goes to more than 300 ports of call (in 2024-25). That shows the breath of our offerings versus what the big ships can do.”

 Excerpt from the Cruise Industry News Quarterly Magazine Spring 2024

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