(8:30 a.m. GMT) -- Ambassador Cruise Line has set its sights on international markets including Germany, France and Australia, the line's CEO said.
The newly formed cruise line will concentrate on departures from the U.K. this year and next, with the imminent launch of Ambience on April 6, and next year's launch of Ambition, but will then set its sights further afield, Christian Verhounig said.
"We will expand further in the U.K. but also to international markets where demand is there," he told Cruise Critic.
"Right now, concentration is the U.K., but there are national source markets, which are looking for similar products which is no-fly cruising out of regional ports.
"We see a lot of demand for this in Germany, a lot of demand in France. ... Australia is looking for products away from the mainstream."
New Ship Ambition Launched Earlier Than Planned
The line recently announced the purchase of its second vessel, Ambition (the former AIDAmira), which will launch in the first quarter of 2023 and operate no-fly cruises from regional U.K. ports.
Verhounig said the response from the market had been so positive when Ambassador launched last year, the line decided to launch Ambition earlier than planned.
"We have been debating whether to launch the vessel in 2022 or wait till 2023, but in line with our environmental responsibilities we want to make sure the ship is 100 percent upgraded," he said.
Ambassador is completely refurbishing the ship with environmental features including catalytic convertors and an NOx scrubbing system.
In terms of internal refurbishment, the line will refresh all the suites onboard, every cabin and re-imagine some of the inside spaces.
Ambience Will Have Brand-New Features Including a Pub Called The Purple Turtle
The line has stripped out the casino onboard and is converting it into a new pub/entertainment space called The Purple Turtle Pub.
Verhounig said it would be the hub of the ship offering entertainment throughout the day until late at night.
Ambience will also have four bars, two main restaurants, specialty dining options and a lounge.
In terms of activities, Ambience will have a spa, gym and two swimming pools.
Ambassador Has No Firm Plans For More Ships, Rules Out New Builds
"We will take an opportunistic view with fleet expansion. To write a plan and say 'X' vessels over 'X' years, I don't think it's the right answer," Verhounig said.
"It may be two ships a year, I don't know, but at the end of the day it depends how well our product is received out there, what's the interest for it and to look at how it fits into our portfolio.
"It's a niche we are filling with traditional, more classic ships with this great space ratio onboard."
He also ruled out new builds as a strategy for the brand: "To grow the business the way we want to grow it, at the speed we want to grow it, new builds are not the answer.
"Because the ramp-up time for new builds, I think it's 2025-2026. I think there is a good variety of ships out there that are fitting our portfolio."
However, he ruled out purchasing vessels from defunct Crystal Cruises as they are not the right fit for the Ambassador fleet, both in terms of size (too small) and cabins (too few).