Azamara was first established in 2007 and was originally owned by Royal Caribbean, but today the independent brand competes with other upmarket cruise lines such as Oceania Cruises and Viking Ocean Cruises. It focuses on longer stays in port and more overnights, allowing for cruisers to see more of the destination than most other cruise lines.
Azamara Club Cruises, as it was rebranded in 2009, is currently helmed by Carol Cabezas and headquartered in Miami, FL. With a maximum capacity of 690 guests and a wide range of inclusive amenities and perks, its four ships offer an intimate and exclusive cruising experience.
Azamara’s first two ships -- Azamara Quest and Azamara Journey -- started out as part of the Celebrity Cruises fleet, after parent company RCCL acquired the Spain-based cruise line Pullmantur and transferred the ships from Pullmantur to Celebrity. (Royal Caribbean Group owned 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," RCG Chairman and CEO Richard Fain said at the time. "They are so distinct they deserve a line of their own."
The line was rebranded in 2009, becoming Azamara.
In September 2017, Azamara Cruises announced plans to take another "R-class ship" -- Adonia from P&O -- and transform it into Azamara Pursuit, which launched in March 2018. This allowed the company to add new itineraries and expand its ports of call, now including Chile, Peru and the Beagle Channel, among many others.
In January 2021, Azamara was sold to Sycamore Partners, a private equity group that quickly announced it had purchased Pacific Princess from Princess Cruises and would be adding the ship to the Azamara fleet. Pacific Princess, now renamed Azamara Onward, also is a former R-class ship.
The company also announced cruise industry veteran Orlando Ashford, former CEO of Holland America Line, would join Azamara as executive chairman. Carol Cabezas, former COO of Azamara, assumed the presidency of the cruise line.
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.
Although Azamara is often compared with Oceania Cruises, 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 private classical music concert at Ephesus.
Azamara prides itself in offering its passengers the opportunity to dive deeper into each destination. In 2017, the line introduced its Cruise Global, Connect Local shore excursion program, which includes land experiences such as culinary tours and restaurant visits, cycling tours, cultural exchanges with local families and residents, evening outings and overnight stays, among many other unique options.
Azamara introduced Country Intensive Voyages in 2017 as well, itineraries focused around ports in just one country, so cruise travelers can get an in-depth look at one destination. Countries include Greece, Italy, Spain, Iceland, Norway, Croatia, Japan, Ireland and Israel.
The cruise line’s President Carol Cabezas has signaled that Azamara may be adding more ships to the fleet in the near future. No details are available as of early 2023, but Cabezas has promised that the line will experience growth in a range of ways.
Following the success of Azamara’s 2024 World Voyage, which is set to visit 40 countries in six continents and is currently sold out, the cruise line has announced its 2025 World Voyage. This new itinerary will see passengers cruise aboard Azamara’s newest ship Onward for five months and visit all New Seven Wonders of the World, among many other attractions.