Azamara Pursuit, the upcoming addition to Azamara Club Cruises’ fleet, is to be refitted in Belfast – the first time that a modern cruise ship has been entirely refurbished in Britain.
The entire refit will also be handled by an external firm, MJM Group, the Northern Ireland-based outfitter, rather than Azamara overseeing the work in-house.
Azamara Pursuit, which is currently sailing as P&O’s Adonia, will be handed over to Azamara in March and then launched in August. It is the first time that either Carnival Corporation or Royal Caribbean have purchased a ship from the other company.
Speaking to Cruise Adviser, Larry Pimentel, president and CEO of Azamara Club Cruises, said that if he could start the company again he would make it British.
“The Azamara Pursuit has come from a UK brand [P&O], its first voyages will be from the UK, it will be christened in the UK and its captain is from the UK. Now our ship is being refurbished by a British company.
“It’s historic. This may be the start of a new way of refitting ships [using an external company to manage the whole process]. All eyes are on us because we are the first. This has the opportunity to create a broadened industry right here in the UK.”
Pimentel also confirmed that 40% of guests who had already booked a cruise on Azamara Pursuit were British. The UK market experienced double-digit growth last year.
Azamara also announced that its maiden voyage will now begin in Southampton and that the first four voyages will all ‘touch the UK’.
We want to get in and showcase the UK marine industry on a worldwide stage
Brian McConville, chairman of MJM, said: “As far as the UK goes, this is history in the making. It’s never been done before. A ship operator is trusting the management of the whole process to a company that is not a shipyard. We, with the advice and help of RCCL, came up with the idea of bringing the ship to Belfast, to drydock at Harland & Wolff.
“It’s a wonderful opportunity to showcase how we can take a modern cruise ship and completely reinvent it – giving it back to its owners in showroom condition. It’s never been done by a British yard or a British company. We want to get in and showcase the UK marine industry on a worldwide stage. All eyes are on us and we will produce the perfect product.”
Read the whole interview in the next issue of Cruise Adviser