The former president of Holland America Line will join once the purchase of Azamara from Royal Caribbean goes through
Orlando Ashford, the former president of Holland America Line, is to join Azamara as its executive chairman. The appointment will be effective once Sycamore Partners, a private equity firm, has completed its purchase of Azamara from Royal Caribbean. The deal is expected to be finalised in the first quarter of this year.
“We are pleased for Orlando to take on this role as Azamara embarks on its next chapter supported by Sycamore Partners,” said Stefan Kaluzny, managing director of Sycamore Partners. “Orlando brings significant leadership experience, as well as specific expertise in the cruise and travel industry, making him well-suited to serve as Azamara’s executive chairman.”
“I am thrilled to be appointed to the role of executive chairman at this exciting time for Azamara, having long admired the business and the brand,” said Ashford. “I believe Azamara is uniquely positioned in the industry, and I look forward to executing on our shared vision for growth. Together with the Azamara team, we’ll focus on offering Azamara’s loyal customers more of what they have come to know and love.”
“I look forward to working with Orlando, who has equal passion for the cruise industry and the very special product Azamara offers,” said Carol Cabezas, president, Azamara. “With the recent news of a planned addition to the fleet, Orlando will bring perspective that will support expansion of the brand while maintaining and growing the unique programming and itineraries beloved by guests and travel industry partners.”
Sycamore Partners have recently acquired Pacific Princess from Princess Cruises. The former R-class vessel will be fully renovated and is due to sail its inaugural season in Europe in 2022.
“The addition of this ship is an important milestone and reflects Sycamore Partners’ commitment to supporting Azamara in its next phase of growth,” said Kaluzny. “Expanding the fleet will allow Azamara to continue to serve loyal customers, as well as those new to the brand, with more unique Destination Immersion programming and itineraries.”
“We are thrilled to be expanding our fleet with a fourth ship, allowing us to visit even more regions of the world and better serve our guests,” said Cabezas. “We look forward to launching even more unique and immersive itineraries and feel this is just the beginning of an exciting growth phase for Azamara.”
The family-owned line holds a flag ceremony in Saint-Nazaire for its new ship, which is due to come into service from April
MSC Cruises has held a flag ceremony for its forthcoming flagship MSC Virtuosa, a ritual that forms part of the ship joining MSC’s fleet.
The ceremony, which was held at Chantiers de l’Atlantique in Saint-Nazaire, was attended by executive chairman Pierfrancesco Vago, his wife Alexa Aponte-Vago and their children, as well as representatives from MSC Cruises’ new builds team and executives and workers from the shipyard.
Vago said: “My family and I could not miss this opportunity to welcome in person the newest member to our fleet. The delivery of MSC Virtuosa at such a challenging time for our industry symbolises how as a family company we continue to look at the longer term and build our future.
“In doing so we remain committed to building each time some of the most innovative ships in the world when it comes to their environmental performance, featuring nothing but the most advanced available technology at sea.
“Just as importantly, with each new ship we continue to push boundaries and innovate our product offering with new and unique experiences for our guests. On MSC Virtuosa, this includes the world’s first humanoid bartender at sea that will be the star of a futuristic, immersive experience using cutting-edge technologies. Our exceptional dining offering has been further enhanced with two new restaurant concepts that showcase popular international cuisines to take guests on a gastronomic journey of discovery.
“This is, of course, in addition to the richness of experience that already sets us apart such as the grand-scale nightly theatrical shows, the award-winning family offering, industry-leading guest technology, of course the now iconic promenade with a stunning 91.8m long LED sky dome that is the social heart of the ship and more.”
Laurent Castaing, general manager, Chantiers de l’Atlantique, stated: “I am proud of what our teams have accomplished together, despite a difficult sanitary context. With the construction of MSC Virtuosa, we have reached a level of finish and performance that will give future guests the best that cruising has to offer. The 16th ship that the Chantiers de l’Atlantique has built for MSC Cruises is, therefore, an example that will be difficult to overtake.”
MSC Virtuosa will be a sister-ship to MSC Gradiosa, the company’s first Meraviglia-plus ship. The vessel will spend its maiden season in Europe before heading to the Gulf in November.
Vago added: “Our long-term goal is to achieve a zero-impact cruise operation and this is the journey we are on today. MSC Virtuosa represents another important step in this direction together with our other investments in the accelerated development of next-generation environmental technology. It also confirms our long-term firm commitment to achieving this ambitious goal.”
MSC Virtuosa will come into service for the summer season from April 16, with four cruises in the Mediterranean of three, four and 10 nights, before moving to its new homeport of Kiel, where it will commence her Northern Europe itineraries from May 8.