Azamara to offer nighttime excursions on all cruises

By Tom Stieghorst
Azamara Club Cruises said Monday that it will offer nighttime shore excursions on all of its cruises, starting next spring.

The cruise line describes the nighttime excursions as events that are more exclusive than the usual tours offered during port calls.

The endeavor is a refinement of the line’s focus on destinations, made possible by longer stays in ports and overnight stays, Azamara said.

A total of 52 overnight events have been arranged, beginning with the March 27 sailing of Azamara Quest, which will hold an evening event in Seville, Spain, on the second night of the cruise.

The Azamara Journey will begin its slate of evening events on May 15.

"These events are unique and bespoke," said Edie Bornstein, Azamara's sales vice president. "They are something that a private tour operator cannot create, no matter how much they are willing to spend."

The cost of the events will be folded into the cruise fare. However, Azamara said as part of the change, it will eliminate a program offering 50% discounts on shore excursions.

At the same time, Azamara will make its beverage offerings more inclusive by making spirits free, in addition to the unlimited wines that are now served at lunch and dinner.

Azamara said the nighttime shore event has been tested four or five times, including a trip to the Verrazano castles in Italy's Tuscany region. The castles are not normally open at night.

These exclusive events will be repeated in future years, along with newly created events, said Azamara President Larry Pimentel.

Guests who have already booked a cruise on Azamara after the start dates for the evening event will get the nighttime events added to their cruise.

Pimentel said he hopes to see a 10% to 15% fare increase over time. Azamara officials have said the line currently provides value by pricing about 15% below its competitive set.

Follow Tom Stieghorst on Twitter @tstravelweekly. 
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