Cruise

Holland America Line’s former boss to join Azamara, as new owners reveal plans for fourth ship

Sycamore Partners has wasted no time since announcing its acquisition of Azamara, announcing a new senior appointment as well as plans to expand the cruise line’s fleet.

Orlando Ashford has been named as the incoming executive chairman of Azamara, with his appointment to become effective upon the completion of Sycamore’s $260 million acquisition, which is expected to occur in the first quarter of this year.

Ashford most recently spent more than five years as president of Holland America Line, before departing the Carnival-owned brand in May last year.

He has also held senior roles at global consulting firm Mercer and its parent Marsh & McLennan Companies, Coca-Cola, Motorola, Ameritech, and Andersen Consulting.

He currently serves on the board of directors of ITT, Perrigo Company, Array Technologies, and Hershey Entertainment & Resorts.

Stefan Kaluzny, managing director of Sycamore Partners, said: “We are pleased for Orlando to take on this role as Azamara embarks on its next chapter, supported by 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.”

Commenting on his hire, Ashford said: “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.

“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.”

Sycamore has also announced plans to add a sister ship to the current fleet of Azamara Journey, Azamara Quest and Azamara Pursuit. It’s understood that the vessel is in fact Pacific Princess, which Carnival only recently announced it was offloading.

Pacific Princess (image source: Wikimedia Commons/Bengt Nyman)

Following a full-ship renovation, the fourth Azamara ship – to be named at a later date – will expand the fleet’s overall capacity by 33 per cent, and is scheduled to sail its inaugural season in Europe in 2022.

According to Azamara, the new ship will provide guests with the opportunity to visit unique, smaller ports and enjoy a more intimate experience.

“The addition of this ship is an important milestone and reflects Sycamore Partners’ commitment to supporting Azamara in its next phase of growth,” Kaluzny said.

“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.”

Azamara president Carol Cabezas said: “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.

“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.”

Prior to launch, the fourth ship will undergo an extensive refurbishment to match its sister ships, as well as offer unique onboard elements.

Azamara said these updates will be similar to the renovations introduced most recently on Azamara Pursuit, bringing guests the experience of a boutique hotel at sea.

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