Teresa Ooi
More than 90 per cent of the inaugural Australian visit by Royal Caribbean’s upmarket cruise ship Azamara Quest this Christmas has already been sold out.
And Australians are fast signing up for the new itinerary from Bali to Cairns to spend Christmas and New Year on board the luxury 694-passenger line, President and CEO Larry Pimentel said in an interview with Cruise Passenger.
“We certainly expect to sell out very soon. Guests from all over the world including British, Americans, Scandinavians and of course, Australians, have already signed up.
“Our largest growth market is Australia,’’ Mr Pimentel said.
“Australians now represent 24 per cent of our market. Between 2009 and 2015, Azamara has seen a 767 per cent increase in the number of Australians travelling on our two ships.
“Now that is a ‘wow’ factor.’’
The line has also confirmed that Quest’s sister ship, Azamara Journey will visit Australia for the first time in 2017.
Mr Pimentel said that Australians’ favourite destinations are the Mediterranean including Sorrento and Capri and the Greek Islands.
“Australians love to explore – I would call them travellers, not tourists.
“Australians are always the first to sign up for shore-excursions and are particularly drawn to night touring.’’
In June, Azamara will introduce a new program called “Cruise global, eat local’’ in the Mediterranean and more than 200 ports across 60 countries.
“It’s a unique experience for passengers to disembark at any port and eat at the best local restaurant and they don’t even have to be on a shore excursion,’’ he said.
While Australians was the line’s third biggest market in 2014, Mr Pimentel expects Australia will overtake Britain to become the second largest market before the end of the year.
Americans are still the top market for Azamara with a 47 per cent market share.
However, while Americans cruise an average of seven days, the average cruise for Australians is 13 days.
China is seen as the next big growth market especially among the burgeoning middle class who have got the taste for cruising.
“China is a giant of a market. There are very wealthy Chinese cruisers coming on board Azamara cruises – they are attracted by the Mediterranean, Italy France and Spain.’’
Chinese passengers make up about 3 per cent of Azamara’s market.
But SouthEast Asian passengers on board Azamara ships remain relatively small. ASEAN is viewed more as destination rather than a source market, he said.