Updated February 21, 2020
Who is Azamara' CEO? Larry Pimentel (2009 – )
What year was Azamara founded? 2007
Which vessels are in the Azamara fleet?
- Azamara Pursuit
- Azamara Quest
- Azamara Journey
Azamara joined the industry ranks in 2007 as Azamara Cruises. Its two ships (Quest and Journey) started out as part of the Celebrity Cruises fleet, after parent company RCCL acquired the Spain-based cruise line Pullmantur and transferred the two ships from Pullmantur to Celebrity. (Royal Caribbean Cruises Ltd. owns Royal Caribbean International, Celebrity, Pullmantur and Azamara.)
Celebrity took on Journey and Quest -- both former Renaissance Cruises ships known among cruise fans as "R ships" -- with plans to fold them into its Celebrity Xpeditions sub-brand, but then changed its mind.
"We learned that these ships don't just constitute a slightly more upscale product than Celebrity," RCCL Chairman and CEO Richard Fain said at the time. "They are so distinct they deserve a line of their own."
The line was re-branded in 2009, becoming Azamara. It competes with other upmarket cruise lines such as Oceania Cruises and Viking Ocean Cruises. In September 2017, the line announced plans to take another "R ship" -- Adonia from P & O -- and transform it into Azamara Pursuit, which launched in March 2018, allowing the company to expand its ports of call and add new itineraries.
When Azamara first entered the market in 2007, it struggled to make its mark in the deluxe cruising niche. In 2009, luxury cruise industry veteran Larry Pimentel -- an executive with 25 years of experience working with lines such as Cunard, SeaDream and Seabourn -- took the helm. Pimentel introduced a raft of changes with an emphasis on creating more immersive itineraries and, in a nod to the true luxury players, making the overall product more inclusive.
From the beginning, Azamara differentiated itself from other upmarket cruises through longer stays in ports and more overnights. In 2013, it went even further with its AzAmazing Evenings, which provide special experiences that travelers wouldn't ordinarily get to do, like attend a classical music concert at Ephesus. In 2017, the line introduced its Cruise Global, Connect Local shore excursion program, which divides land experiences into Taste Local (culinary tours and restaurant visits), Bike Local (cycling tours), Meet Local (cultural exchanges with local families and residents) and Nights Local (evening outings).
Also in 2017, Azamara introduced Country Intensive Voyages, itineraries focused around ports in just one country, so cruise travelers can get an in-depth look at one destination. Countries include New Zealand, Mexico, Norway, Japan and Spain.
Both Journey and Quest underwent major refurbishments in 2016.