Azamara Club Cruises’ luxury cruise ship Azamara Quest has emerged after two-weeks in dry dock in Singapore’s Sembcorp Marine Admiralty Shipyard completely refurbished, with brand new cabins and spaces to be enjoyed onboard.
Her final route in Asia, the 690-guest luxury ship is headed north to Malaysia at the first port of call in Penang before heading onwards to Sri Lanka, India, and ending its voyage in Dubai, United Arab Emirates.
The Azamara Quest was refurbished to look identical to her Azamara Club Cruises twin sister, the Azamara Journey, which was refurbished in January this year.
Walking through the decks, it is clear that the new appearance saw a careful balance between maintaining the original elegance of the ship and giving it a modern touch and feel.
With interactive stations installed in the new Living Room, guests can now send virtual postcards while out at sea.
There is also an Inspiration Centre – a large interactive wall – for travelers to learn about the places they are about to visit, or see where the next voyage is going to be.
Vice president for Sales and Marketing for the Americas, Ellen Bettridge, declined to mention the exact cost of refurbishment, but said the heaviest investments went to the cabins.
This comes as no surprise, as the ship now has two brand new open-concept spa suites that come with private Jacuzzi tubs.
Ship Master Captain Jose Vilarinho, who was part of the team that oversaw the initial construction of Azamara’s ships said it has been an exciting experience watching the ship undergo refurbishment.
“The entire process was well organised, and we were lucky to be the second ship to undergo this process.
“As such, whatever we wanted to improve from the Journey, we had the chance to upgrade it here,” he said.
A growing demand in Asia
Ms Bettridge, who also oversees Asia, said that net cruise yields in the Asian market has increased by 52% since its launch in 2010, with the majority of guests coming from Singapore, India, and Hong Kong.
Although there has been a rise in the number of guests from Asia, the ship remains to be very Western-centric.
“We are built to cater to the luxury market, and we find that the luxury traveler from Asia want that experience,” she said, adding that from past records, the primary destination for Asian travelers has always been the Mediterranean.
Understanding the need to increase brand awareness in Asia, Bettridge said the group works closely with their travel partners in the region and leverages on ships from Royal Caribbean’s sister brands like the Celebrity Millennium and Voyager of the Seas.
“Increasingly though, we’ve noticed that travelers from Asia now like the idea of being close to home with our number one port being Bangkok, followed by Singapore, Ho Chi Minh city, and Hanoi, as our top destinations.”
On whether there are plans to introduce a new ship to the market, Bettridge said, “the luxury market specifically is growing at a very rapid rate, so its about finding the right opportunity to add in the right ships for us.”
Trends for luxury cruise
From fine dining to wine and whisky tasting classes while at sea, Bettridge believes that luxury cruise trends are about experiences, exclusivity, and authenticity.
Unique to the Azamara experience, the AzAmazing evenings, which feature a specially organised event unique to each voyage, along with the concept of destination immersion, which allows travelers to spend more time in port, has been a selling point both in Asia and internationally.
“Because we are in port longer, we can offer night tours and give travelers a more authentic experience, and that is what luxury travelers are looking for,” said Ms Bettridge.
Words by Alycia Lim