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Monday, June 6, 2011

Azamara Cruises Interview: Part 1


In cruising, there’s something for everyone, and for those who want to experience small, intimate ships, unique destinations, and a crew whose passion for the job is almost tangible, there’s Azamara.  We had the honor of speaking with one of Azamara’s ship captains, Johannes Tysse, and Larry Pimentel, Azamara’s president.  They’re busy planning for this year’s President’s Voyage, which sails from Dublin to Lisbon on the Azamara Journey this August and is hosted by Mr. Pimentel and his wife, Sandi. 

Mr. Pimentel joined Azamara a year ago and immediately started looking for ways to improve upon a product that already had extremely high customer satisfaction ratings. He implemented the “Destination Immersion” program, which allows for longer stays and more overnights in each port of call. We reached him by email to discuss some other exciting changes in the world of cruising. 

FROSCH Insider: What can guests expect from this year’s President’s Cruise? 
Larry Pimentel: It includes special shore events that include private tours of castles and vineyards and a walking tour of Bordeaux. We’ll go to Margaux, where we will visit either Chateau Kirwan (a 3rd Grand Cru Classe, which has been among the region’s most distinguished Crus since the legendary Bordeaux classification of 1855), or Chateau d’Agassac (one of the oldest estates dating back to the 13th century and known for the Cru Classe Bourgeois Haut Medoc).  The event includes a tour of one of these magnificent chateaux, a walking tour in one of the glorious vineyards offering a taste of their wine, and of course, plenty of time for photographs.  The President’s Voyage also happens to be one of our golf cruises.  That part of Europe has some amazing golf courses.  Make sure you book the golf package ahead of time. 

FI: Can you tell us about the Suite Butler Service on board?
LP: We employ a UK butler training service---the same one used by Buckingham Palace.This is a highly personal service executed in a flawless manner and includes everything from unpacking to making dinner reservations. 

FI: How has cruising changed in the past decade?
LP: Certainly cruising has changed dramatically over the past decade. The on-board experience has become highly diversified and cruise ships offer more and more experiences for guests to enjoy. The ships themselves have become more like luxurious land resorts.  Many on-board changes were brought about because the nature of the clientele has changed. For example, not too long ago, cruise ships featured one or more formal evenings per week in which men wore tuxedos and women wore gala gowns. Now, things are much more casual aboard ship.

FI:  What makes Azamara stand out from other cruise lines?
LP: Leisure travelers have become much more independent. They seek unstructured and unique vacation experiences.  As for Azamara, we offer a product based on a club-like ambiance. It is a casual product that is in tune with our guests’ lifestyle. We appeal to well-traveled guests that love cruising and are interested in new ways to immerse themselves in the world’s great destinations. We also stay up-to-date by providing what we call the Four Pillars of Excellence, which are comprised of Destination Immersion, Extraordinary Service, Fine Cuisine and Wine, and Wellness and Vitality.  These are the guidelines by which we ensure we provide the best for our guests. 

Check in tomorrow for part 2 of our Azamara series, an interview with Captain Johannes Tysse.  

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