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Gary Buchanan sets sail with Azamara Club Cruises – and their President, Larry Pimentel, for a different kind of ‘themed’ cruise


T


he opportunity to meet the president of a cruise company is something many regular guests relish. To this end, a select band of head-honchos are happy to leave the security of their ivory towers once or twice a year and climb aboard for a cruise where they can mix and mingle with the people that count – fare-paying passengers. Some cynics may view this as a


ploy to fill sluggish-selling cruises or unpopular positioning voyages but, as I recently discovered, for the president of Azamara Club Cruises at least, this ‘live laboratory’ is an unrivalled opportunity to learn about his customers’ likes and dislikes. Luxury cruise industry veteran Larry Pimentel was appointed president and CEO of Azamara in July 2009. He is responsible for the strategic direction and leadership of the boutique, upmarket brand to ensure its continued growth and success.


After spending his first few weeks gaining invaluable insight from in-depth dialogue with travel


professionals, consumers and past guests, Pimentel and a new, brand- dedicated team honed in on the core attributes that distinguish Azamara: destination immersion, extraordinary service, cuisine and wine, as well as wellness and vigour. Pimentel’s strategy benefits from more than 25 years of industry experience catering to the high-end consumer. Prior to taking the helm at Azamara, he served as president, CEO and co-owner of SeaDream Yacht Club. Previously, he was president and CEO of Cunard and Seabourn Cruise Line, and it was in these roles I first came across this charismatic cruising guru. More than a decade on, it was a delight to sail with him again. The itinerary for the 2011


President’s Cruise was a delightful 10-night sojourn from Dublin to Lisbon on the 30,277-ton Azamara Journey. Pimentel had selected this voyage because the overnight stay in Bordeaux allowed him to invite all guests to a complimentary ‘President’s Shore Event’ – a night to remember if ever there was.


ALL THE PRESIDENT’S CRUISES


Several other cruise lines offer a ‘President’s Cruise’ where there is the chance to quiz company bosses and enjoy special excursions and


commemorative gifts. They include: Crystal





Cruises, Seabourn Cruise Line, Paul Gauguin Cruises, AmaWaterways, Avalon Waterways and Viking River Cruises.


Winter 2011-12 WORLD OF CRUISING 83


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