Azamara is rolling out a massive expansion of its land-based product, coinciding with a rebranding that emphasizes the company’s focus on destination immersion. Azamara CEO Larry Pimentel stopped by our New York offices to talk more about the plan; you can watch the conversation below.
Pimentel says that the expansion is an evolution of Azamara’s “Destination Immersion” brand concept, which is a federally registered trademark.
“Originally, it was about longer stays, more overnights and night touring,” says Pimentel. “We came to the conclusion that the reason people cruise is the land. And when you think about it and you ask anybody about going on a ship, they will also tell you where they’re going.”
With the expansion, Azamara now offers a total of over 1,700 land program offerings. The company is collaborating with a number of luxury travel providers on the project, including Cox & Kings, which will operate over 75 percent of its land programming. Other partners include Micato, PerryGolf, Aloschi Bros, COLTUR Peru and Furlong Incoming.
There will be three main types of land programs. AzAmazing Journeys will take groups of 12 to 18 guests, along with expert guides, on three to six day itineraries focusing on interactions with the locals and AzAmazing Moments and accommodations Pimentel describes as ranging from "the best in boutique hotels all the way to glamping." Travelers might take a speedboat ride to see orangutans in Borneo, go on an African safari with Micato or explore the alien landscapes of the Bolivian Salt Flats and Chile’s Atacama Desert. Some train journeys may be longer than three to six days; for example, one train ride in Australia will take guests over the Blue Mountains into the country’s interior.
Land Journeys will offer a wider range of group sizes and tour a number of cities on three- to six-night itineraries. "It's exactly the same thing except it gets into a more modest four-star hotel, so that we've got different levels for different guests who happen to be on the ships," says Pimentel, noting that the operator will be the same, so that the only difference is the accommodations.
Planned Land Journeys routes include a train journey through Norway that begins in Oslo, as well as an itinerary in South America with the potential for jaguar-spotting.
Finally, the Stay Local itineraries will offer an in-depth exploration of a single city over a two- to three-night stay.
"Some guests, we've determined in the research, get to the ship they embark, and they really fail to have any in-depth exploration of the very port that they're in," Pimentel says. "And in this case, the city stay's two or three nights for more immersiveness and Cox & Kings is handling that for us in every single embarkation and disembarkation port."
New cities in which the local stays will be available run the gamut from Amsterdam and Auckland to Santiago and San Juan, Puerto Rico.
"In addition to doing all of that, we're augmenting this with a brand-new look, a brand-new name and a new logo, all of which will start to appear in our halls, on our uniforms and on our websites," Pimentel says.
All land packages will include:
- Most breakfast and select meals throughout the journey
- All transfers to/from cruise, airport and between land tour cities
- Tour Directors
- Explorations led by local experts, such as geologists, naturalists, sommeliers, astronomers and wildlife trackers
That means Azamara is dropping “Club Cruises” from its name in an effort to accurately reflect the breadth of the company’s offerings, while also debuting a revitalized logo with three main features: an open world symbol, two artistic strokes to represent both land and sea experiences, and a star, which represents Azamara’s namesake “Acamar” – the brightest star in the southern sky, which also serves as the brand's "North Star." Both changes are based on extensive research, Pimentel says.
"It's very risky when you're messing with a name," Pimentel says. "But we're dropping the name Club Cruises because research showed that in certain parts of, for example, Germany, 'Club' implied 'discount house.'"
As for the new logo, "I wanted a globe to represent part of it," Pimentel says. "I wanted the intersection of the land and sea and the North Star to suggest balance, discovery and also direction."
The new direction could open Azamara up to an entirely new market of non-cruisers.
"The cruise industry is 5 to 6 percent of global tourism; 95 percent is the rest of it," Pimentel says. "So when I look at affluent travelers, most are on land, they're not by sea...So, we've come up with a hybrid product that I think is going to be the shining star in the deep blue sea."