Azamara Quest Reaches Malaysia, Guests Given Vacation Options

Azamara Quest docked at Sandakan, Sabah, Malaysia, on April 1, 2012, at approximately 9:23 p.m. local time, the line said Sunday in an official statement.

The ship had been crippled by an engine room fire on Friday while sailing about 200 miles from Borneo. The ship's crew were able to restore vital services and, eventually, some propulsion.

Azamara Quest was escorted through pirate-infested waters by Philippine, U.S. and Malaysian Coast Guard and military vessels as it headed for Sandakan.

No passengers were injured in the fire, which was contained to one engine room. But five crew members were injured with smoke inhalation, one of those seriously.

"The one crew member that was more severely injured will be immediately transferred to a local area hospital," the Azamara statement on Sunday reported.

Guests had the option of staying onboard the ship during the time it's docked in Sandakan, until a complimentary charter flight for guests that's arranged by Azamara departs Tuesday for Singapore.

Alternatively, buses were waiting at the pier, and many guests took the line up on its option to transfer to local area hotels. Both U.S. and Canadian consular officials met the ship upon arrival.

At press time, Travel Agent learned that Azamara had offered guests (1) a full refund for this cruise; (2) a full cruise credit for the value of the cruise for a future sailing; and (3) several sightseeing and vacation stay options.

In Sandakan, Sabah, Malaysia

For those guests who would like to explore Sandakan on Monday, Azamara will be offering complimentary Land Discoveries shore excursions.

In addition, the line will also provide each guest with $150 to cover meals and any other incidental costs they will incur during their time in Sandakan.

Larry Pimentel, president and chief executive officer, is expected to arrive in Sandakan on Monday and meet with Azamara Quest guests and crew personally.

“I would like to commend the crew onboard, not just for their valiant and courageous efforts during the fire, but for the way they have worked tirelessly to make our guests as happy and comfortable as possible until the ship arrived in port,” said Pimentel in the latest statement by the line.

“The entire crew has been absolutely brilliant, and I couldn’t be prouder of the exemplary way each and every one of them responded to this incident,” he stressed.

Pimentel continued: “I would also like to sincerely thank our amazing Azamara Quest guests for their patience and understanding. We understand that this was a difficult journey, and we appreciate their upbeat and positive attitude. We look forward to welcoming them back soon.”

Singapore and Other Asian Options

After guests fly to Singapore on the Azamara-provided charter flight on Tuesday, the line will assist them in either continuing their vacation in Singapore or flying home.

Here are the four options being offered to guests, according to "intel" gathered Sunday by Travel Agent.

Option 1 – Vacation in Singapore until Thursday, April 12: For those guests who would like to continue their vacation in Singapore and return home as scheduled on April 12, the date the voyage was originally scheduled to conclude, Azamara will arrange for the guest's air travel to Singapore via the charter flight.

Then, a luxury hotel stay in Singapore will be arranged by the line free of charge to guests for their stay through April 12. A representative from Azamara Club Cruises will be available at a hospitality desk located in the hotel lobby should guests have any questions or require any assistance.

Azamara will also provide each guest with a $150 per diem for each night in Singapore to cover meals and any other incidental costs incurred.

Option 2 – Travel to Singapore but Return Home Prior to Thursday, April 12: For those guests who would like to travel to Singapore, but return home before April 12, Azamara will arrange the charter air travel to Singapore and a hotel stay in the city free of charge.

Once guests arrive in Singapore, the line will provide transportation to a luxury hotel until the guest's new departure date. Again, a representative from Azamara Club Cruises will be available at a hospitality desk in the hotel lobby.

Azamara will provide each guest with a $150 per diem for each night in Singapore to cover meals and any other incidental costs they may incur.

If clients purchased air transportation through Azamara Club Cruises, and select this early-return option, the line will rebook their flights for the new departure date selected. The line said new flight information will be communicated to the guest via the Azamara hotel representative as soon as it becomes available.

If clients did not purchase air transportation through Azamara Club Cruises, and select this option, they will be asked to contact their airline directly to make revised flight arrangements. The cruise line will assist in paying airline change fees of up to $500 per person.

Option 3 – Travel to Singapore but Vacation Elsewhere: For those guests who would like to travel to Singapore, but then enjoy a vacation in a different location through April 12, Azamara will arrange air travel to Singapore, free of charge.

However, guests will need to arrange and pay for an additional air travel within Asia on their own. Guests who choose this option are still able to use their originally scheduled return flights departing Singapore on April 12.

If clients purchased air transportation through Azamara Club Cruises and will be returning home from a location other than Singapore, the line will re-book return flights from that new locale and cover any additional costs up to $500.

If clients made their own air arrangements and choose to return from a location other than Singapore they should contact the airline directly to make revised flight arrangements. The line will assist by paying for any airline change fees, up to $500 per person.

In addition, Azamara will cover the hotel stays of all guests at this alternate vacation location, up to $300 per day, until Thursday, April 12.

Again, Azamara will provide each guest with a $150 per diem to cover meals and any other incidental costs they may incur while on vacation, until April 12.

Guests taking this option will need to provide the line with a copy of hotel receipts plus a note stating they sailed on the March 26 sailing of Azamara Quest.

Send receipts and the note to Royal Caribbean International, Customer Service – March 26 sailing, 1050 Caribbean Way, Miami, FL 33132-2096.

Option 4 – Depart from Sandakan to Vacation in a Different Location: Clients also may choose to depart from Sandakan and travel to an alternate location to continue their vacation, without taking the Azamara-provided charter flight to Singapore.

However, if so, they will need to arrange and pay for an additional air travel within Asia on their own. If they choose this option, they can still - if the schedule works for them - use the originally scheduled return flights departing Singapore on April 12.

If clients purchased air transportation through Azamara Club Cruises and will be returning home from a location other than Singapore, the line will rebook return flights and cover any additional costs up to $500.

If clients made their own air arrangements and choose to return from a location other than Singapore, they should contact the airline directly to make revised flight arrangements. Azamara will assist by paying for any airline change fee, up to $500 per person.

In addition, the cruise line will cover the hotel stays of all guests at an alternate location, up to $300 per day, until Thursday, April 12. For those guests, it will offer the $150 per diem to cover meals and any other incidental costs until April 12.

Again, to receive reimbursement, clients will need to send hotel receipts and a brief note about being on the March 26 sailing of Azamara Quest to the address listed above.

Additional Help for Guests

In addition to the full refund and future cruise certificate, plus the line's pledge to cover alternative hotel arrangements, up to $150 per diem in expenses and airline change fee expenses as described above, the line will provide all guests with a full refund of the airfare they paid for this voyage.

That's in addition to the air ticket change fee of up to $500. Again, clients should mail receipts to the address mentioned above. Any reimbursement or per diem guests will receive will be mailed to the address the line has on file.

Azamara Club Cruises has cancelled the remainder of the current voyage to assess damages to the ship. There is no word, as yet, on any potential changes to future itineraries.

Keep visiting www.travelagentcentral.com for further updates on this developing story.

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