Azamara names new ship Onward in Monte Carlo ceremony

Azamara christened its fourth ship, Onward, in a ceremony in Monte Carlo, as its president reported high demand for near-term bookings and the ship’s round-world sailing.

The 684-passenger vessel, which has now officially joined Azamara’s other ships Journey, Quest and Pursuit, will embark on a round-the-world cruise in January 2024 – a first for the line.

Speaking on board ahead of the ceremony, president Carol Cabezas noted that near-term sailings, such as the 155-day round-world trip, calling at 75 ports in 40 countries, were selling well.

”It has exceeded every expectation that we had,” Cabezas said of the line’s first round-world sailing, which will take place on Onward. “Our team was very concerned initially that we were going too long, because most world cruises are around the 120 day mark, but we felt very strongly.”

Cabezas put this down to “being able to see all the wonders of the world in one cruise”.

“I think that story of what you can do with this one journey was extremely appealing,” she added. “And it came at just the right time when people are looking to go big or go home when it comes to travelling.”

And while before the pandemic people might have taken travel for granted and planned to travel later in the future, many people now want to book cruises sooner rather than later.

“People are saying, ‘I don’t know when I’ll be able to do it again, I’ve got to do it now.’ So we’re seeing a tremendous amount of our interest for our world cruise. We’re seeing that across all markets, the near term is what people are very focused on. The demand for near-term cruises is like nothing we’ve seen before.”

At the ceremony on Monday Onward’s godmother, entrepreneur and founder and CEO of Wanderful Beth Santos, officially blessed the ship by smashing a champagne bottle on its side.

Santos said at the event: “It’s not lost on me how symbolic today is. Not just because it’s a christening, but because it’s a christening after the two hardest years that the travel industry, and especially the cruise industry, has ever seen possibly in the history of tourism.”

Cabezas added: “Thank you for being part of such a special moment. We have all been tested these past couple of years, and I’m exceedingly pleased to see where we are today.”

Former Renaissance R-class ship Onward is almost identical to Journey, Quest and Pursuit – except with the addition of a new experimental bar concept Atlas, which has replaced the ship’s library.

There are five restaurants on board and a total of 278 cabins and 64 suites. The latter are expected to receive “soft improvements” in the coming months, according to Cabezas, to offer a more yacht-like experience.

Onward set sail for its 11-night maiden voyage through the Mediterranean, from Monte Carlo to Ravenna, Italy, after the ceremony.

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