(7:30 a.m. AEST) – Australia has been chosen as the unusual world cruise departure port for Azamara Club Cruises’ first-ever foray into a round-the-globe voyage, which will end in London, U.K. In 2018 the 686-passenger Azamara Journey will sail an unprecedented 102-day journey from Sydney’s Opera House to London’s Tower Bridge, docking overnight at the famous landmarks in signature Azamara style.
It is also understood that passengers will be able to embark earlier in Auckland, New Zealand, as well as extend at the other end with a Baltic cruise to St Petersburg in time for a FIFA World Cup soccer match.
Speaking exclusively to Cruise Critic in Sydney last night, Azamara’s president and CEO Larry Pimentel said full details would soon be revealed but he was excited to share the news with Australians, who have grown to become the line’s second biggest market, representing 17 percent of passengers –- up from less than one percent when he joined the company in 2009.
“Most world cruises don’t start in Australia but Australians sail longer than anyone else and we see more back-to-back cruises in Australia than anywhere else,” Pimentel said. “We find they’re more interested in authentic travel and experiences and they ask more about destinations than any other nationality; they always want to know which new ports and new countries we’re going to.”
Other ports of call will include 22 more ports in Australia alone (such as Brisbane, the Great Barrier Reef, Kangaroo Island and seven stops in Western Australia), followed by Bali, Singapore, Ho Chi Minh City, Bangkok (two nights), Myanmar (two nights), Mumbai, Muscat, Oman, Athens, several Greek Islands, Sicily, Italy’s Amalfi Coast, Rome, Monaco (on the day of the Grand Prix), Cannes (for the film festival), Barcelona and France’s Normandy beaches, before arriving in the heart of London.
The itinerary is expected to feature multiple overnight stays, late-night sailaways and nine of the line’s Azamazing Evenings (special events at night in iconic settings, offered at no extra charge).
The choice of embarking in Sydney and Auckland is also remarkable given Azamara has never before operated in Australia or New Zealand, with Azamara Quest set to make its debut down under in December 2015.
Ahead of this maiden season, this week Pimentel is also visiting Brisbane, Melbourne and New Zealand, while Michael Pawlus, director of strategic itinerary and destination planning, explores Australia’s west coast, where Azamara Journey is scheduled to make the line’s first calls to Albany, Bunbury, Broome, Esperance, Exmouth and Geraldton on the 2018 world cruise.
We’ll provide more information about this round-the-world sailing before the cruise goes on sale next month.