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TORONTO — It’s a worrisome time for Emerald Waterways but not in the way that you may think. Since announcing earlier this week its entry into the luxury yacht market with the 100-passenger Emerald Azzurra, sales have been through the roof, so much so that the brand is already working hard to keep up with demand.
But according to Juna Ueda, General Manager-Sales for Emerald Waterways’ parent company, Scenic Luxury Cruises & Tours, this is a very good problem to have.
“Sales are exceeding our expectations in terms of pace, we’re almost in a panic – are all the main cabins and staterooms already taken?” he says with a laugh at a trade reception in Toronto yesterday. “I think this shows that we have priced this in the right price range and that it touches a broad range of potential guests.”
With competitive lead-in prices starting at $495 per person, per day, the overwhelming response Azzurra has received since the weekend should come as no surprise. Coupled with its world-class facilities that range from an infinity pool to a wellness centre, and the small, unique ports it will be visiting in the Mediterranean, the Adriatic and the Red Sea (for example, Bonifacio, Port Vendres, Fiskardo, Porto Ercole and Piran), the 360-foot-long, 50-cabin mega-yacht will certainly live up to the brand’s newly announced tag line: Intimate Experiences, Exotic Destinations.
Speaking with Travelweek, Lisa McCaskill, Vice President, Sales and Marketing for Scenic, describes the Azzurra as a brand new niche.
“We did competitive comparisons where we looked at everything from inclusions to price points, and we couldn’t quite find what we have out there,” she says. “Of course there are others that come close and offer different things. But with a 100-passenger ship at a very good price point and mostly all-inclusive? This is something totally different at the moment.”
Meaning ‘sky blue’ in Italian and named by the wife of Scenic’s CEO, Founder and Chairman, Glen Moroney, the Emerald Azzurra offers six cabin categories: Oceanview Stateroom (183-205 sq. ft.); Balcony Stateroom (285-307 sq. ft.); Deluxe Balcony Stateroom (382-404 sq. ft.); Terrace Suite (648-670 sq. ft.); Yacht Suite (700-721 sq. ft.); and the Owner’s Suite (1,163-1,193 sq. ft.). Nearly all 100 guests onboard are guaranteed spectacular views as 88% of all cabins and suites come with a balcony.
Upon launch, the yacht will offer over 25 curated itineraries, including the eight-day ‘The Best of the Red Sea’ (priced from $3,965), the 11-day ‘Charms of Greece & Turkey’ (from $6,405), and the 15-day ‘Discover French & Italian Coastlines’ (from $8,745). Prices include airport transfers; all meals onboard; complimentary wine and beer with lunch and dinner; coffee and tea stations; complimentary water daily; Wi-Fi; all airport taxes and port charges; and all gratuities.
Currently under construction in Vietnam by the Ha Long shipbuilding company, the Emerald Azzurra is on track for a July 31, 2021 debut. This, says Patricia Wu, Brand Director-Canada for Emerald Waterways, is particularly significant given the multiple delays of the Scenic Eclipse, Scenic’s six-star Discovery Yacht that eventually launched in August 2019.
“Ha Long is the same company that built the Emerald Harmony, which has been a star ship for us,” says Wu. “The Harmony was on time and on budget, so we hope this will be the same case for the Azzurra.”
Despite experiencing three delays due to construction issues and labour strikes, which pushed back its original launch date by a year, the ultra-luxe, all-inclusive Scenic Eclipse – purpose-built for Discovery cruising in the polar regions – exceeded all expectations and is currently sailing in Antarctica. This, says McCaskill, has been the silver lining to all the setbacks.
“The product is absolutely unbelievable, and the feedback has been amazing, from our guests onboard to travel agents who’ve heard directly from their clients,” she tells Travelweek. “To be able to go to some of these remote locations and do it in luxury is not something that’s being offered out there at the moment. It has butler service, multiple dining venues, even 100 whiskeys in our Whiskey Bar – it has everything you can imagine.”
The success the Eclipse is seeing now, and the phenomenal growth both brands have achieved, can be largely attributed to travel agents, adds McCaskill, who acknowledged that many in attendance were possibly impacted by the delays.
“Thank you for sticking with us, supporting us and believing in us,” she says. “We’ve been selling Scenic river cruising since 2008 in Canada and has seen that brand grow and develop. And then we introduced Emerald Waterways in 2014, which has been fantastic. Without the trade’s help we never would’ve gotten to where we are now. The growth we have seen from both brands has been double digits, year over year.”
Agents and their clients are encouraged to learn more about Scenic and Emerald Waterways, particularly the new Eclipse and Azzurra, at the company’s annual Information Sessions, set to take place this year from Feb. 18 to March 8. In Ontario, there will be 30 sessions for the Scenic brand and 28 for Emerald, during which the leadership team – including BDMs Jared Gelfand and Tracy Daniels – will conduct presentations on the company’s latest offerings.
“These Information Sessions are our way of going out into market, and driving attendees to these venues in targeted cities,” says Ueda. “We’re doing all the resourcing and heavy lifting – all we’re asking is for you to come by, bring your clients and learn more about why you should choose Scenic and Emerald.”
Emerald Waterways is currently offering Early Bird pricing for the Emerald Azzurra, with savings up to 15%. Combination trips, which allow passengers to make it into an 11- or 15-day journey, are available with early bird fares at up to 20% off.