Cruise Line Expands Ship to Tour Focus

December 7, 2009

Where's Cruise Critic? Tuesday in New York, Larry Pimentel, Azamara Cruises' new president, will announce a new, destination-driven program that will represent a "radical enhancement" for the cruise line.

What's It All About? Cruise Critic's Editor in Chief Carolyn Spencer Brown had a chance to sit down with Pimentel (former head of the ultra-luxurious SeaDream Yacht Club) and Edie Bornstein, Azamara's Vice President of Sales and Marketing (who recently came to Azamara from Cunard), a few weeks ago in Miami and got a teaser.

"Azamara is absolutely fabulous already," Bornstein told Spencer Brown. "But we're taking it a notch further."

Specifically? If one of the ironies of cruising is that you get to visit a lot of different places by cruise ship, but there's never much time to really see them, Azamara's executives plan to carve out a new niche: "We're focusing on destination delivery," Pimentel says. What this means is that the focus, onboard and onshore, will be on providing a cruise experience that is all about people and places that you meet along the way. "We're going to slow the ships down," Pimentel said. "We'll offer more overnights in key ports, and more late night stays."

One good example: in 2011, Azamara will feature longer port stays in places like Italy's Sorrento, the Caribbean's St. Barth, and France's St. Tropez -- all ports with fantastic restaurants and nightlife in addition to the usual day-tripping activity.

Beyond that, the cruise line's destination-driven focus will be all about "culture, sounds, food and wine -- things that connect people with people," Pimentel says. "The destinations will be our cornerstone."

Stay Tuned: The announcement will be made via a 10 a.m. teleconference, and we'll be chatting with Pimentel afterwards. Look for our coverage to follow.

And tell us: What can cruise lines do to help passengers get more out of the places ships visit?