Royal Caribbean sheds 62,000 annual capacity with sale of Azamara brand

Royal Caribbean Cruises, the world’s second-largest cruise company, has confirmed the sale of its luxury brand Azamara to the private equity firm Sycamore Partners.

Royal Caribbean sold its Azamara brand for around US $200-million, the sale includes all three of the cruise line’s ships (Journey, Pursuit and Quest), and is expected to be finalised in the first quarter of 2021.

Azamara Quest alongside in Abu Dhabi.

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The move comes after Royal Caribbean indicated it was planning to shed tonnage amid the global coronavirus pandemic, which has forced the entire cruise industry to shut down operations for almost a full year at the time of writing.

In a statement, Richard D. Fain, Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of Royal Caribbean said the sale would enable the cruise company to better focus on its remaining three cruise line brands (Royal Caribbean International, Celebrity Cruises and Silversea).

“Our strategy has evolved into placing more of our resources behind three global brands, Royal Caribbean International, Celebrity Cruises and Silversea, and working to grow them as we emerge from this unprecedented period,” said Fain.

“Even so, Azamara remains a strong brand with its own tremendous potential for growth, and Sycamore’s track record demonstrates that they will be good stewards of what the Azamara team has built over the past 13 years,” he added.

Royal Caribbean Cruises said in a release that it will work closely with Sycamore Partners to ensure a smooth handover, protecting the operations and value proposition of Azamara.

Azamara is known for its upscale, small-ship cruise experience.

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The new owners, and Royal Caribbean will collaborate on a seamless transition for Azamara employees, customers and other stakeholders. As part of the sale, Azamara Chief Operating Officer Carol Cabezas has been appointed President of the brand.

In a separate statement, Cabezas described the sale of Azamara as a “win-win” for both the brand and its new owners.

“Sycamore Partners, which has invested in many upscale consumer brands, is known for identifying great brands that need flexible funding to grow and succeed,” Cabezas said.

“Sycamore’s strategy is to partner with existing management to nurture companies for growth and invest in upscale companies. The priority is to increase the value of our product. So, it’s a win-win-win,” she added.

The sale of Azamara comes after Royal Caribbean last year shed its Pullmantur cruise line, a Spanish brand that was one of the first to declare bankruptcy after the pandemic hit. Then in December it sold its two oldest cruise ships Empress and Majesty of the Seas.

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