Showing commitment to the UK market, Azamara Club Cruises has today announced that new ship Azamara Pursuit’s refit will take place in the UK as it prepares to go into wet dock in Belfast, while the maiden voyage on 1 August will depart from Southampton. This is the first time that owner of the Azamara brand, Royal Caribbean Cruises Ltd, has chosen a UK shipyard for such a project.
Larry Pimentel, president and CEO of Azamara Club Cruises, said: “We’ve seen unprecedented support from the UK market for Azamara Pursuit, so we are delighted to be able to show our recognition of this by allowing its transformational journey to take place here. We’ve seen double the UK demand for Pursuit than we usually see for its sister ships, so this is a really exciting time for us as a brand.
“The UK business has been prolific for us,” continued Pimentel, talking exclusively to Cruise Trade News. “I’m excited that the product has been so well received – we hit 70 per cent of our sales goals by 1 January and 40 per cent of our booked guests are British. There’s such an affinity between the brand and the UK guest, along with the retailers we work with. Growth has been year-on-year and keeps on rising.”
Azamara Pursuit will join the line’s existing two-ship fleet in August 2018, after being transformed as a carbon copy of sister ships Azamara Quest and Azamara Journey. Family-owned out-fitting specialist MJM Group will manage the refit project, which will take place at the Harland and Wolff shipyard in Belfast.
Chairman of MJM Group, Brian McConville, said: “The fact that the brand has picked a ship outfitter to project manage its refit as a one-stop-shop has never been done before. This is history in the making and a fantastic opportunity for Great Britain.”
Richard Twynam, managing director for UK and Ireland, added: “Thanks to the incredible support from our UK guests and travel agents, 2017 was a record year for Azamara in this market, with the business growing by an impressive 30%. Looking at 2018, the UK market is in a fantastic position already, having generated more revenue for 2018 at this point than in 2015 overall. What’s more, repeat guest levels from the UK are the highest for the brand overall. The Azamara Pursuit announcements are enabling us to continue the drumbeat of good news, with even more opportunities for agents and guests to see Azamara ships in the UK than ever before.”
Work will begin in spring 2018 and will be completed by the end of July.