SA Cruise News

Azamara cancels South African cruises after Royal Caribbean shutdown extension

Azamara has cancelled its 2020/21 winter cruise season in South Africa following parent company Royal Caribbean Cruises’ announcement that it was extending the suspension of its global operations.

Royal Caribbean Cruises has cancelled voyages for all of its subsidiary brands until at least the end of November in response to a CDC ruling preventing all US cruises from operating until at least October 31st, except for limited cruises out of Hong Kong.

Azamara operates a fleet of three identical luxury cruise ships

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While Royal Caribbean International has suspended cruises until November, the company’s premium and luxury brands Celebrity and Azamara have gone one step further, cancelling their entire winter cruise seasons.

Celebrity Cruises will suspend its 2020/21 winter program in Australia and Asia, while Azamara cruises will suspend winter sailings throughout Australia and New Zealand, South Africa and South America.

The move mirrors an announcement by Carnival Corp’s luxury cruise line Seabourn, which confirmed it will suspend upcoming 2020 and 2021 voyages for three cruise ships in its fleet until spring 2021.

The affected vessels are Seabourn Odyssey, Seabourn Encore and Seabourn Ovation.

While Carnival Corporation said the decision was due to the circumstances continuing to evolve from the global response to the COVID-19 situation, Royal Caribbean said it had made the decision in response to passenger feedback.

Guests booked to sail aboard Azamara and Celebrity voyages (which typically undertake longer, multi-continent voyages than Royal Caribbean International) had said they were more comfortable with cruising in 2021 than during the current situation.

“After very careful consideration, we have made the decision to pause operations until the 2021 Europe season, as we are still confronted with the many global challenges resulting from COVID-19,” said Azamara’s Chief Operating Officer, Carol Cabezas.

Azamara Quest pool deck

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“We plan to return stronger than ever next season, with reimagined guest experiences that will protect the wellbeing of our guests and crew yet remain true to the Azamara spirit of connecting people to cultures,” he added.

However, despite the lack of demand for cruising this year, Cabezas said the opposite was the case for future bookings.

“As we look at our long-term plan, we have already seen a strong demand to our 2022/2023 voyages, which was announced in mid-September,” he said. “Within the first week of opening for sale, we experienced three times more bookings for new voyages compared to last year’s deployment of 2021 and Winter/Spring 2022 itineraries.”

“This just further reinforces traveler’s commitment to cruising,” he said.

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