Cruise ship guests are a fickle bunch. There was a time when all they wanted was a holiday at sea.
Of late, they have expected restaurants aboard to be on a par with those on land. That happened.
Then they wanted Broadway-style entertainment. That came too.
Currently, the requests are for more time exploring ports on cruise ship itineraries. That is happening too.
The boutique cruise brand Azamara Club Cruises (Royal Caribbean is the parent company) has long made destinations the hero of its world-wide itineraries. Now Azamara has expanded that programme further with longer stays in port, more overnight, and night tours.
This year alone Azamara will take guests on its two recently revitalized ships Azamara Journey and Azamara Quest – which each carry 690 guests – to more than 200 ports, in 68 countries, including 195 late night stays and 82 overnight stays.
Azamara’s President and CEO Larry Pimentel says, “Our land product will be curated to ensure guests get to connect, in a personalised and unique way, with the people in the destinations they visit. This may occur through people-to-people interaction, cultural experiences, or by enjoying local food and beverages, music and others events.”
There will be country intensive voyages to allow guests to travel deeper and experience more of a given country such as Japan, Italy, Spain, Norway, New Zealand, Australia, Greece, or Croatia.
Expanded world events and themed voyages are also scheduled, such as the Monaco Grand Prix, the World Cup, British Open, Venice Redentore Festival, and wine and yoga themed voyages.
Experiences, such as a visit to a theatre, or pub, or a local home, farm or villa are also scheduled, with the option of overland tours during the voyage as well as pre or post voyage experiences.
In Australasian waters this season, an example is Azamara Journey’s executive chef taking guests to a market in Hobart, Tasmania, to choose the freshest ingredients, while the ship’s sommelier will go with guests to a local distillery for an insight into making and tasting spirits.
In Napier, New Zealand, some guests will ride off on the ship’s bikes to visit fishing villages, enjoy the dramatic landscape, and stop at the country’s oldest winery for refreshments.