Azamara President Carol Cabezas believes the separation of the boutique cruise brand from the Royal Caribbean Group (RCG) is enabling a partnership with Virtuoso to flourish.
Speaking exclusively with LATTE aboard the newly revamped and relaunched Azamara Onward, Cabezas was frank with her opinion of the luxury travel network.
“We love partnering with Virtuoso,” she said.
“There is no better stamp of approval than Virtuoso when it comes to quality,” Cabezas said.
“Under our previous management, many things were done always on a multi-brand basis and it wasn’t the best fit for everyone there. Whoever was largest, gets the say,” she quipped of the larger scale RCG brands – without mentioning names – being Royal Caribbean and Celebrity Cruises.
“Now we can go in and do anything we want with Virtuoso in Australia which is wonderful”.
Cabezas explained, “What I’ve learned in different markets because of being on our own, is we can make our own decision across the board. In certain markets, Virtuoso is not that engaged with cruise. In North America they are, so we’ve had a great relationship with Virtuoso for a long time there. And in Australia, we find that’s the case as well, so we’re very happy to be able to now have a strong relationship with Virtuoso in Australia.
“Similarly in Latin America, but in Europe and the UK, it seems the trade that’s involved with Virtuoso there, doesn’t have as much interest in cruise,” the Azamara boss said. “They are really more about hotel and perhaps escorted tour[ing], so it wouldn’t make sense in some of those other markets.
“That was one of the most exciting aspects of being able to be on our own for the Australian market – is to be able to now have a very strong relationship with Virtuoso and the network of travel partners in Virtuoso worldwide,” Cabezas reiterated to LATTE.
That passion for the Virtuoso network was reflected onboard last month’s pre-inaugural shakedown cruise, with a number of key Virtuoso executives onboard Azamara Onward, including the network’s cruise guru, Melissa Araya, recently named Vice President, Cruise.