Olympic challenge for Azamara

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azamaradome.jpgBoutique cruise line Azamara Club Cruises could be sailing both its ships, the Quest and the Journey, into London to provide accommodation for sports fans visiting the London Olympics, according to CEO Larry Pimentel who was in town this week.
The company is open to offers for full-boat charters, or could arrange its 2012 itineraries around the Games. They will have to make a decision soon, because the best berths have already been snapped up. Luxury line Silversea will have its 296-passenger Silver Cloud berthed alongside HMS Belfast at Tower Bridge, and the 388-passenger Silver Whisper at Greenwich.
Unless the Port of London Authority makes new berths available, that could mean the Azamara ships having to tie up 22 miles downstream in the London Cruise Terminal at Tilbury – not quite so glamorous as the night last year when Journey (pictured above) was in Greenwich and some lucky passengers hopped across the river to the O2 Arena to watch a Rod Stewart concert .
London is not the only venue for Olympic competition, however. Perhaps Pimentel should look at Weymouth Bay and Portland Harbour, where the sailing events will be based.
He was speaking in London as Richard Fain, chairman of parent company Royal Caribbean, was denying rumours that Azamara and its ships were about to be sold off.
Reporting revenues for the company as a whole of $1.6 billion in 2010, and net income of $547.5 million, he said “We are not interested in selling either the brand or the ships.”
Fain also hinted that Royal Caribbean may be about to place an order for two new ships. The company is having two more Solstice-class ships builr in Germany foe its Celebrity brand, but has shown no signs of increasing the 22-ship fleet sailing as Royal Caribbean since building Oasis and Allure of the Seas, the two biggest cruise ships in the world.
“We feel that the time may now be right for a move,” Fain said. “We have been working intensively on developing a design that reflects our innovative spirit, but in an efficient package and we think that we are near to an acceptable outcome.”
There is speculation that instead of going to the STX yard in Finland which built the last five ships for Royal, it will be placed with the technologically-advanced and ultra-efficient Meyer-Werft yard in Germany which is building the Celebrity ships.
The yard built the Disney Dream which was launched last week, is constructing the Disney Fantasy, to be launched next year, and also won the contract to build two new ships for Norwegian Cruise Line to be delivered in 2012 and 2014.
No wonder owner Bernard Meyer was smiling broadly throughout Dream’s inaugural voyage last week.

Greenwich Council has approved plans for a new cruise terminal to be built at Enderby’s Wharf, and hopes it will be completed in time for the Olympics. Given the pace at which other developments have progressed, I suspect they may be optimistic over the timing. More details here.

By | 2017-06-15T16:00:11+00:00 28 January 2011|Cruise Destinations, Cruise News, Cruise Ships|0 Comments

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John Honeywell is a travel writer specialising in cruise ships and cruise travel. Winner of CLIA UK's Contribution to Cruise award 2017.

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