MIAMI, June 25, 2020 /PRNewswire/ -- Azamara — the no-cruise, boutique cruise line — kicked-off its first-ever virtual Tour Operator Conference yesterday, hosting over 100 companies and more than 200 participants to discuss Destination Immersion experiences for Azamara guests. The webinar consisted of results from the global tour operator's COVID-19 survey, a panel discussing Azamara consumer insights, and the winners of its first Destination Immersion experiences awards: Tura Turizm as 'Tour Operator of the Year' and Viajes Buemes as 'Outstanding AzAmazing Evening Event of the Year.' The accolades honor the tour operator's efforts in delivering the best experience in their destination. Next year, Azamara will add another category dedicated to innovation to its list of accolades, in which criteria will be shared later this year.
"We are excited to start a new brand tradition in celebrating the tour operators that bring Destination Immersion to life for our guests," said Carol Cabezas, Azamara's Chief Operating Officer. "Our land product development team is committed to always looking for new and enhanced experiences ashore to deliver authentic travel moments and Tura Turizm and Viajes Buemes exceeded our expectations, from the little details that make the experience so special to their commitment to the Global Sustainable Tourism Council."
Tour Operator of the Year
With a commitment to traveling deeper, shore excursions are at the heart of the Azamara experience. The winner of this award was determined based off guest surveys – where a tablet was provided with a list of questions following the excursion about the guide, tour content, duration, transportation, value for money and overall experience – as well as onboard shore excursion managers, hotel directors, and the land development team, asking which tours and operators performed the best. The best performing tour – scoring a perfect record – was Tura Turizm's 'Şirince Village & Lunch at a Turkish Home.' The experience starts at a hilltop village outside Kusadasi, Turkey where Turkish and Greek cultures mix and typical Greek architecture can be admired. Fine fruit wines and olive oil are also produced in the village, which can be sampled throughout the tour. Guests are then invited to visit a family home and treated to a traditional Turkish lunch, where the conversation is sure to provide insight on the culture, cuisine, and local life.
Outstanding AzAmazing Evening of the Year
Exclusive and complimentary to Azamara guests, AzAmazing Evening Events (AEE) are designed to connect guests to the local culture of a destination, featuring local talent, performances, and cuisines, and in many occasions hosted in historic venues. Following each event, guests are provided with a survey to rate their AEE experience. Azamara's target for each event is 87 out of 100, yet one experience repeatedly scored in the 90s, which was Viajes Buemes's Uruguay Carnival, which takes place in the port of Montevideo. Upon arrival, guests are greeted by lively street performers and given their own Carnival mask. On UNESCO's list of Intangible Cultural Heritage, the show tells the history of Carnival in Uruguay and weaves in its culture with music performances and vibrant costumes. Considered one of the most energetic shows, with acting, singing and dancing to the beat of the drums with the performers, Viajes Buemes provides an evening of fun-filled traditions in the Solis Theatre, dating back to 1842.
Global Sustainable Tourism Council (GSTC) Certification:
A major factor considered when selecting the winners of each award is GSTC certification. The GSTC certification is organized around four main themes: effective sustainable planning, maximizing social and economic benefits for the local community, enhancing cultural heritage, and reducing negative impacts on the environment, in which Viajes Buemes and Tura Turizm meet all the criteria.
Azamara, along with its parent company Royal Caribbean Cruise Ltd. ("RCL"), is actively working with the Global Sustainable Tourism Council to further their efforts in sustainable tourism. Azamara has committed to its chairman, Richard Fain, that 90% of their tour operators will be GSTC certified by the end of 2023.
Azamara is an upmarket cruise line and the leader in Destination Immersion, with three mid-sized ships sailing to all seven continents of the world. The boutique-style ships allow them to reach marquee ports around the world and dock in smaller less-visited hidden gems. Azamara's commitment to creating immersive experiences for travelers to connect with local cultures, allows guests to travel deeper with longer stays, more overnights, and night touring. Most recently, Azamara debuted the largest selection of pre-and-post-voyage land programs in the cruising industry, reinforcing its commitment to Destination Immersion beyond cruising. Guests can experience a boutique hotel at sea with inclusive amenities such as gratuities, beverages, AzAmazing Evenings – an exclusive, bespoke event designed specifically for Azamara guests to immerse themselves in their destination and more. Azamara holds prestigious awards, further exemplifying the line's commitment to Destination Immersion, including 2019 USA Today Readers' Choice for "Best Boutique Cruise Line" and 2018 Cruise Critic Editor's Picks Awards for "Best Shore Excursions." Additional information can be found on www.azamara.com.
SOURCE Royal Caribbean Cruises Ltd.