Route planning: Azamara is an intensive destination

Launching the Azamara Onward in May, Azamara will have its four ships in Europe this summer on a variety of programs in Northern Europe and the Mediterranean.

The Onward is making its maiden 11-day voyage from Monaco to Venice, calling at Livorno, Civitavecchia, Sorrento, Amalfi, Kotor, Ancona and Ravenna.

Among the more unique offerings is an island-centric itinerary.

“We are having success with our Mediterranean island cruise, which goes from Barcelona to Athens for 10 days, passing through Mallorca, Corsica, Sardinia, Sicily, Malta and Heraklion,” said Michael Pawlus, director of strategic itinerary and destination planning. Cruise Industry News.

Azamara is also known for its country-intensive cruises, a concept developed by Pawlus. Entire cruises focus on ports of call within one country, such as Italy, Spain, Croatia, Greece and Israel in the Mediterranean; Norway, Scotland, Iceland and Ireland in Northern Europe; France in Western Europe; Japan; and South Africa.

“We sail 12 days round trip from Cape Town,” Pawlus said, “with ports along the coast. And we offer pre- and post-cruise packages and game drives as part of the itinerary.

With relatively small ships, Pawlus said he was working not only to create unique itineraries, but also to do something special, noting an intensive 11-night French-language itinerary aboard the Pursuit from Amsterdam to Bordeaux, making stopover in Zeebrugge, Rouen, where the ship spends the night; Honfleur, Cherbourg, Saint-Malo and Nantes, also at night, before going up the Garonne and docking in downtown Bordeaux.

For the winter season, the Journey will sail to South Africa and the Pursuit to South America, while the Onward will sail to the Caribbean and the Quest is expected to sail to Australia and New Zealand.

For the summer of 2023, the Quest will sail in the Mediterranean and the Black Sea, and the Onward in the Mediterranean. The Journey and Pursuit will sail in Northern Europe.

“For the 2023-2024 winter season, we are going to change a bit, so the Pursuit is going to South Africa, the Quest to South America, the Journey to Australia and Japan, while the Onward is sailing on a world cruise 155 days from Port Everglades, starting January 5 and ending in Barcelona.

October 8 (2022) will be a big day for Azamara with all four ships calling at Koper, Slovenia.

“It will be our homecoming,” Pawlus said. “Everyone in Koper, the mayor, the authorities, has been very helpful, and it will be Azamara day in Koper.”

Pawlus said he is continuously looking for events and new ports to be able to offer interesting programs.

“I keep a list of potential new ports on my wall from people who introduce me,” he said. “And sometimes they come off the wall and make a route out of it.

“We also do post-mortems on the routes to better understand what works and what doesn’t. If a port is not noted, I will not put it back on the itinerary. So basically I have a bulletin for every port we call at.

“I always strive to refine the routes and improve them. I can’t control the weather, but I can control the ports we go to.

Excerpt from Cruise Industry News quarterly magazine: Spring 2022