Bon voyage, Azamara.
The sun has set on the Royal Caribbean Group’s ownership of the luxury Azamara cruise line, as the powerhouse cruise operator has sold the brand to a private equity group for $201 million.
Royal Caribbean announced the news Tuesday, sharing that the brand will be sold to private equity firm Sycamore Partners in an all-cash deal expected to close in the first quarter of 2021. From there, Sycamore will own the line’s three-ship fleet and associated intellectual property.
In a news release on the transaction, a Royal Caribbean executive explained that the sale will allow the Miami-based cruise operator to narrow its focus on its Royal Caribbean International, Celebrity Cruises and Silversea brands during the “unprecedented,” ongoing coronavirus pandemic.
“Our strategy has evolved into placing more of our resources behind three global brands, Royal Caribbean International, Celebrity Cruises and Silversea, and working to grow them as we emerge from this unprecedented period,” said Richard D. Fain, chairman and CEO of the Royal Caribbean Group.
“Even so, Azamara remains a strong brand with its own tremendous potential for growth, and Sycamore’s track record demonstrates that they will be good stewards of what the Azamara team has built over the past 13 years.”
To that end, Royal Caribbean International claims over 150,000 people have volunteered for the cruise line’s mock voyages, reportedly in the works to set sail as a trial before a larger return to service amid the global outbreak of the viral disease. Thousands of people have allegedly come forward to volunteer for the unique opportunity, a spokesperson for Royal Caribbean said.
The company needs cruising enthusiasts to step up and serve as passengers as it preps to return ships to service under new guidance from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Cruise lines must run these trials to assess their ability to mitigate the risk of spreading COVID-19, before formally resuming sailing with reduced capacity at an undetermined date.