Royal Caribbean Group offloads Azamara

US private equity firm planning to expand boutique cruise line's fleet

Royal Caribbean Group has confirmed plans to sell-off its Azamara brand to Sycamore Partners, a US private equity firm specialising in consumer, retail and distribution investments.

The value of the all-cash carve-out transaction is US$201 million.

Sycamore Partners will acquire the entire Azamara brand, including its three-ship fleet – Azamara Quest, Azamara Journey and Azamara Pursuit. The transaction is expected to close in the first quarter of 2021.

Azamara Quest

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Royal Caribbean Group noted the transaction allows it to focus on expanding its Royal Caribbean International, Celebrity Cruises and Silversea brands.

“Our strategy has evolved into placing more of our resources behind three global brands, Royal Caribbean International, Celebrity Cruises and Silversea, and working to grow them as we emerge from this unprecedented period,” Richard D. Fain, Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of Royal Caribbean Group said.

“Even so, Azamara remains a strong brand with its own tremendous potential for growth, and Sycamore’s track record demonstrates that they will be good stewards of what the Azamara team has built over the past 13 years.”

“We are pleased that Royal Caribbean Group has entrusted Sycamore to support Azamara in its next phase of growth,” Stefan Kaluzny, Managing Director of Sycamore Partners said.

“We are excited to partner with the Azamara team and build on their many years of success serving the brand’s loyal customers. We believe Azamara will remain a top choice for discerning travellers as the cruising industry recovers over time.”

Azamara’s value proposition and operations will remain consistent under the new arrangement, and Royal Caribbean Group will work in close collaboration on a seamless transition for Azamara employees, customers and other stakeholders.

Azamara Chief Operating Officer, Carol Cabezas, has been appointed President of the brand.

Cabezas told UK trade media that Sycamore Partners’ investment in Azamara would involve fleet expansion, with discussions already proceeding along that line.

“We’re focused on expanding our fleet, because that’s the kind of exciting thing for our travel advisors and for our guests to think about; more options, more things to do. And it excites our team too. So that’s absolutely the path that we’re on.”

Locally, Azamara is headed up by Belle Osmic, Regional Sales Manager.

In October 2020, the brand announced it was ramping up its local presence with more feet on the ground in Australia to service this market. Among the new recruits were two Business Development Managers, Kristina Sambaher (NSW based) and Jessica Marsh (Victoria based), who were supported by Natalie Bax in a sales support role.

Those roles are overseen by Azamara’s International Managing Director, Patrice Willoughby, who is based at Azamara’s Miami headquarters.

In a statement shared on the Azamara Agents – Australia and New Zealand Facebook page, the cruise line said Sycamore Partners is “the ideal partner” for Azamara.

“The firm has an extensive record of investing in and elevating brands with significant potential, to drive growth,” the company said, adding that job security was assured for the existing team.

“Azamara’s talented crew and employees will remain part of the brand and play a critical role in driving future growth.”

Trade relationships were also recognised.

“We also value our travel partners and guests and deeply appreciated the contributions they bring to Azamara”.

Azamara’s cruise operations remain in limbo until 30 April 2021. Azamara Quest and Azamara Journey have been flagged to resume service on 1 May 2021, and Azamara Pursuit on 9 May 2021. For more details on Azamara’s return to service, click here.

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