Written by on Sunday May 31, 2015
As Director of Deployment, Claudius Docekal is responsible for the discovery of new ports of call for Azamara Club Cruises. He has visited countless destinations throughout the world and has created many of the immersive cruise experiences enjoyed by passengers today. We spoke to him to get the inside track on the latest developments in cruise excursions and the some of the great new destinations coming up in the new cruise season.
Overseeing deployment and destinations across the globe must be an exciting but challenging task, how do you fit it all in?
Ask my wife how often she sees me? Passion, focus on the job and many years of personal experience at the locations make all the difference.
You have visited over 160 countries and over 100 ports of call, I am sure it is difficult to choose but which are your “real favourites” in these regions?
Actually it is - hundreds of ports. I have many, many favorites but like one's children's which one do you love more... Most of my favorite ports are "exotics" that see very few cruise ships; especially not the large ones.
The Med: It's a secret so do not tell - don't want the other cruise lines coming too! Kas, Turkey; Koper & Piran, Slovenia; Sifnos & Chania, Greece; Syracusa, Italy; Sanary-sur-Mer, France; Valencia, Spain and more.
The Caribbean - Nevis; St. Barts; Guana Island USVI; Barbuda; and many more
Far East - Singapore; Yangon, Myanmar; Sri Lanka; Seychelles; Cochin, India; Boracay, Philippines and many more.
Honestly, there just too many to list them all!
Over the last 5 years, Azamara Club Cruises have evolved destination immersion, what was the original strategy and have any aspects exceeded your expectation?
The original vision was conceived by Mr. Larry Pimentel and has been copied by many cruise lines; at least in words. It has been very popular and well received by our guests and, to prove the powerful message, copied by our competitors. As you may know Mr. Pimentel is currently in the UK and may wish to elaborate further.
What’s new destination wise in 2016?
Australia, New Zealand Tasmania; Salalah & Khasab, Oman; Doha, Qatar; Abu Dhabi, UAE and more.
We are finding increased demand for Australia and New Zealand in particular ? What makes Azamara sailings stand out from the rest ?
No doubt the destination immersion theme. We do not only talk about it like some other lines but the proof is in the port times; longer stays and more overnights, included Azamazing Evening, and other programs such as Night & Cool Places, Cruise Global/Eat Local etc. Our New Zealand sailings are also popular as we have included a large number of NZ ports.
Azamara are now on sale as far as 2017, which destinations are booking most far out and why?
The Seychelles, Sri Lanka and Maldives voyage. As to why, we can only guess as we do not ask our guests but I have to assume that it is the new destinations.
We love your Azamazing Evenings, of the evenings you have experienced which has been the most memorable?
To be honest I have only personally experienced a small number of them but pretty much all of them rate very high with our guests so it would not be right to single out one or two of them and upset the efforts so many people put into organizing them; at our offices and locally.
With major cruise lines ordering new ships on a regular basis, are there any plans to expand the fleet above two ships and to offer more unique destinations?
I would like to refer this question to our great leader Mr. Larry Pimentel, President & CEO of Azamara Club Cruises. We are always hopeful!
Azamara’s unique selling point is the smaller, boutique style of ship, in this age of the superliner, if there pressure to introduce larger ships?
Economically there is pressure. Just look at some of the other luxury lines that build every larger ships. However, many guests love our size of ships which seems to have a "sweet" spot when it comes to size, deliverable, service and options.
We’ve really seen Azamara emerge in the UK cruise industry. What’s next for Azamara?
With your wonderful portfolio of destinations visited, where’s next ? Do you have any plans for holiday or cruising this year?
My holiday destinations are a secret; actually I love spending time at home. Next trips? Unique parts of Russia; Croatia possibly west coast of Australia.