Newly appointed CEO Dondra Ritzenthaler of Azamara, which has a fleet of four ships, is examing how she can send ships to Australia to fill the gap left by the closure of P&O Australia.

The line will have Azamara Pursuit and Azamara Onward in Sydney early next year and Australia is already Azamara’s third most important market alongisde the UK and North America.

Demand for the line’s fleet of small ships is high – but the idea of a new long-stay destination among an already converted country of cruisers certainly appealed to the Miami-based cruise chief.

“Well, it is certainly possible,” Ms Ritzenthaler told Cruise Passenger in an interview.”Right now, we have the two ships that go in there and we’re seeing so much more demand from the local Australian marketplace that it gives us confidence to actually go in and do a season.

Dondra Headshot
Azamara new CEO Dondra Ritzenthaler

“We have four ships and we very much want to grow. We are not announcing that we have a new build growing yet, but it is a goal and the desire of the Azamara brand. The way we are going to do that is to be very successful in your market and other markets as a brand, when we grow.

“I’m saying when and not if, because I’m so optimistic in what we’re seeing in the future.”

How Azamara could fill the gap left open by P&O

With P&O Cruises exiting Australia next year, this opens up the shoulder season which will present an exciting opportunity for Azamara to fill the gap.

Ms Ritzenthaler said that she will be discussing this with the line’s deployment team to see how Azamara could extend her season here instead of just arriving in December and leaving in March.

Azamara Pursuit in Monte Carlo
Azamara Pursuit in Monte Carlo

She added that Australia is a region where Azamara will “increase our capacity because we are seeing such good rates.

Describing Azamara as “small but mighty”, she said the support from the industry in Australia was enormous.

“We are seeing such support from the travel advisors there and we are seeing that it’s really making up so much more of the overall capacity as a total brand that we will just want to ride that wave,” she said.

Why Azamara appeals to Aussie cruisers

Ms Ritzenthaler said that Australia’s growth had been strong.

“Australia has come on so strong for us that, you know, in the international business that we do, the UK has always been the second largest market next to, of course, North America and Australia was third.

“Australia is really within striking distance of being the exact number of business for our brand in Australia as it is in the UK.”

Azamara Onward

Azamara cruisers are also getting younger and sailing longer. They are very keen to sail with the line for special events such as the Grand Prix in Monaco.

Azamara will be putting two of its vessels on a special Solar Eclipse cruise in 2026, along with astronomers and experts. Ms Ritzenhaler sees such events as a great way the line can differentiate its offering.

She also mentioned that New Zealand is a great destination but has a problem because of its biofuel regulations.

“The fjords are lovely; the people are friendly and basically people want cruise but removing P&O removes a huge number of ship sailings, potential cabins out of Auckland.

Azamara Cruises is a small-ship cruise line and focuses on destination immersion experiences.

With a fleet of four boutique ships, Azamara Journey, Azamara Quest, Azamara Pursuit and Azamara Onward, the cruise line allows travellers to reach marquee ports around the world and dock in smaller, hidden gem destinations which bigger liners cannot reach. Azamara cruisers also enjoy the intimate atmosphere of the line as each ship can only accomodate between 680 to 710 passengers.

For more information click here.