• Cheers to 25 years: Celebrate with Us!
  • Write a Review
  • Boards
  • Log In
  • Find a Cruise
  • Deals
  • Excursions
  • More
You may also like
Dismiss
Nieuw Statendam Cruise Ship Delivered to Holland America Line
More News for Azamara: Holland America Line Cruise Vet Steps Into Executive Role
Orlando Ashford giving the opening remarks at the McKinley Chalet Resort in Denali (Photo: Colleen McDaniel)

More News for Azamara: Holland America Line Cruise Vet Steps Into Executive Role

More News for Azamara: Holland America Line Cruise Vet Steps Into Executive Role
Orlando Ashford giving the opening remarks at the McKinley Chalet Resort in Denali (Photo: Colleen McDaniel)

January 27, 2021

Chris Gray Faust
Managing Editor
  • Facebook
  • Pinterest
  • Twitter

(12:10 p.m. EST) -- In another sign that Azamara will continue on a growth path under its new owners, former Holland America Line President Orlando Ashford has joined cruise line as executive chairman.

Ashford's appointment is set to begin as soon as Azamara ownership transfers from the Royal Caribbean Group to Sycamore Partners, a private equity firm that announced last week it had bought the small-ship line for $201 million. The sale is expected to close before March 31, the end of the first fiscal quarter. 

While Azamara loyalists, who love the line for its country-specific itineraries and intimate onboard atmosphere, were worried at first about the sale, the subsequent news that Sycamore had purchased the former Pacific Princess to grow the fleet from three ships to four was heartening.

The Pool on Azamara Journey

A long thread about the new ship on the Cruise Critic's Azamara message board was full of cheer and positivity.

Featured Videos

Here's What It's Like Onboard the First Large Cruise Ship to Alaska in 21 Months

Here's What It's Like Onboard the First Large Cruise Ship to Alaska in 21 Months

LIVE Q&A: Cruise Critic and Emma Cruises Chat About All Things Cruise

LIVE Q&A: Cruise Critic and Emma Cruises Chat About All Things Cruise

Our Celebrity Silhouette Cruise Experience: March 2020 vs. July 2021

Our Celebrity Silhouette Cruise Experience: March 2020 vs. July 2021

Cruise Executives Wish Cruise Critic a Happy 25th Anniversary (VIDEO)

Cruise Executives Wish Cruise Critic a Happy 25th Anniversary (VIDEO)

Freedom of the Seas: What's It Like Onboard a Test Cruise? (Cruise Critic & Royal Caribbean Blog

Freedom of the Seas: What's It Like Onboard a Test Cruise? (Cruise Critic & Royal Caribbean Blog

Q&A with Celebrity Cruises' Captain Kate McCue (2021)

Q&A with Celebrity Cruises' Captain Kate McCue (2021)

Back on Celebrity Silhouette: Here's What It's Like On One Of Our Favorite Ships 15 Months Later

Back on Celebrity Silhouette: Here's What It's Like On One Of Our Favorite Ships 15 Months Later

Cruise Critic | EatSleepCruise: What's It Like Onboard Celebrity Edge?

Cruise Critic | EatSleepCruise: What's It Like Onboard Celebrity Edge?

Anthem Of The Seas Welcomes Gigi The Giraffe

Anthem Of The Seas Welcomes Gigi The Giraffe

LIVE: Cruise Critic is Onboard Celebrity Apex -- The Magic Carpet

LIVE: Cruise Critic is Onboard Celebrity Apex -- The Magic Carpet

Q&A: Cruisers and Crew Chat About The Joy of Cruising's Return

Q&A: Cruisers and Crew Chat About The Joy of Cruising's Return

LIVE: Cruise Critic is Onboard Celebrity Apex -- Eden

LIVE: Cruise Critic is Onboard Celebrity Apex -- Eden

LIVE: Cruise Critic is Onboard Celebrity Apex -- The Retreat

LIVE: Cruise Critic is Onboard Celebrity Apex -- The Retreat

LIVE: Cruise Critic is Onboard Celebrity Apex -- Infinite Veranda Cabins

LIVE: Cruise Critic is Onboard Celebrity Apex -- Infinite Veranda Cabins

LIVE: Cruise Critic is Onboard Celebrity Apex -- Your Cruise Director

LIVE: Cruise Critic is Onboard Celebrity Apex -- Your Cruise Director

LIVE: Cruise Critic is Onboard Celebrity Apex -- Pools

LIVE: Cruise Critic is Onboard Celebrity Apex -- Pools

LIVE: Cruise Critic is Onboard Celebrity Apex -- Embarkation

LIVE: Cruise Critic is Onboard Celebrity Apex -- Embarkation

Live From Adventure of the Seas: What's the Same, What's Different and What's Better?

Live From Adventure of the Seas: What's the Same, What's Different and What's Better?

Here's What We Packed For Our Royal Caribbean Cruise (June 2021)

Here's What We Packed For Our Royal Caribbean Cruise (June 2021)

Celebrity to Restart from U.S. Homeport, PLUS Royal Caribbean Given Green Light for Test Cruises! (VIDEO)

Celebrity to Restart from U.S. Homeport, PLUS Royal Caribbean Given Green Light for Test Cruises! (VIDEO)

LIVE From MSC Virtuosa! Embarkation, the Buffet, COVID Protocols and MORE!

LIVE From MSC Virtuosa! Embarkation, the Buffet, COVID Protocols and MORE!

CRUISE NEWS Countdown! This Week's Top 5 Stories

CRUISE NEWS Countdown! This Week's Top 5 Stories

NEWS: CDC Loosens Mask Restrictions; Norwegian Reveals NEW Ship Class (VIDEO)

NEWS: CDC Loosens Mask Restrictions; Norwegian Reveals NEW Ship Class (VIDEO)

VIDEO: What Does the Latest CDC Guidance Mean? We Explain, Cruisers & Cruise Lines React

VIDEO: What Does the Latest CDC Guidance Mean? We Explain, Cruisers & Cruise Lines React

Alaska 2021: Inside Passage Businesses Talk About A Devastating Season Without Cruise Tourists

Alaska 2021: Inside Passage Businesses Talk About A Devastating Season Without Cruise Tourists

CRUISE NEWS: Two Brand-New Cruise Ships From Disney And Celebrity Revealed, See Photos! (VIDEO)

CRUISE NEWS: Two Brand-New Cruise Ships From Disney And Celebrity Revealed, See Photos! (VIDEO)

BREAKING NEWS: CDC Says Cruises From the U.S. Could Start by "Mid-July"

BREAKING NEWS: CDC Says Cruises From the U.S. Could Start by "Mid-July"

CRUISE NEWS: Two States Sue CDC Over Cruise Restart, New MSC Virtuosa Photos & More

CRUISE NEWS: Two States Sue CDC Over Cruise Restart, New MSC Virtuosa Photos & More

CRUISE NEWS: The CDC Battle Over Cruise Continues!

CRUISE NEWS: The CDC Battle Over Cruise Continues!

NEWS: Norwegian Makes HUGE Waves with Restart Plans (Bonus! Live From an Alaska Cruise)

NEWS: Norwegian Makes HUGE Waves with Restart Plans (Bonus! Live From an Alaska Cruise)

CRUISE NEWS: Where Can You Cruise To -- And From -- In Summer 2021?

CRUISE NEWS: Where Can You Cruise To -- And From -- In Summer 2021?

Odyssey of the Seas -- From Steel Cutting to Delivery 2021

Odyssey of the Seas -- From Steel Cutting to Delivery 2021

CRUISE NEWS: The CDC's Silence And Where Vaccinated Passengers Can Sail in 2021 -- VIDEO

CRUISE NEWS: The CDC's Silence And Where Vaccinated Passengers Can Sail in 2021 -- VIDEO

BONUS NEWS! Royal Caribbean, Celebrity to Resume Cruising in June

BONUS NEWS! Royal Caribbean, Celebrity to Resume Cruising in June

BREAKING: A Big Cruise Line Says Guests Need the Jab, Another Announces U.K. Return

BREAKING: A Big Cruise Line Says Guests Need the Jab, Another Announces U.K. Return

NEWS: This Cruise Line is Returning to Cruise SOON! -- Video

NEWS: This Cruise Line is Returning to Cruise SOON! -- Video

NEWS: Odyssey of the Seas' Debut in Israel, and Where Royal Caribbean Might Restart Next -- VIDEO

NEWS: Odyssey of the Seas' Debut in Israel, and Where Royal Caribbean Might Restart Next -- VIDEO

Video Of Odyssey Of The Seas Conveyance March 2021

Video Of Odyssey Of The Seas Conveyance March 2021

Cruise Restart, Rising Cruise Prices & The Vaccine's Impact On Bookings (Video)

Cruise Restart, Rising Cruise Prices & The Vaccine's Impact On Bookings (Video)

Exciting Disney Cruise News, More Vaccine Mandates & MSC Seashore Sneak Peek (VIDEO)

Exciting Disney Cruise News, More Vaccine Mandates & MSC Seashore Sneak Peek (VIDEO)

Why Lines Aren't Canceling Alaska Cruises, Robot News and More (VIDEO)

Why Lines Aren't Canceling Alaska Cruises, Robot News and More (VIDEO)

CDC Mask Mandate, Cruise Vaccine News and Canada's Cruise Ban Through 2022 (VIDEO)

CDC Mask Mandate, Cruise Vaccine News and Canada's Cruise Ban Through 2022 (VIDEO)

Cruisers and Cruise Lines Talk Vaccines, Big Azamara News and More -- VIDEO

Cruisers and Cruise Lines Talk Vaccines, Big Azamara News and More -- VIDEO

Royal Caribbean Group Sells Popular Cruise Line, Mandatory Vaccines and More (Video)

Royal Caribbean Group Sells Popular Cruise Line, Mandatory Vaccines and More (Video)

Exciting Cruise News From Carnival Corp., Pause Extensions & More (Video)

Exciting Cruise News From Carnival Corp., Pause Extensions & More (Video)

Exciting New Ships In 2021 - This Week In Cruise News (Video)

Exciting New Ships In 2021 - This Week In Cruise News (Video)

Rudi Sodamin Makes A Special, Thanksgiving-themed "Food Faces" Video For Cruise Critic

Rudi Sodamin Makes A Special, Thanksgiving-themed "Food Faces" Video For Cruise Critic

Coin Ceremony For Celebrity Cruises' New Ship, Celebrity Beyond

Coin Ceremony For Celebrity Cruises' New Ship, Celebrity Beyond

Cruising In Maine During COVID-19, On The Only Ship Sailing In The U.S.

Cruising In Maine During COVID-19, On The Only Ship Sailing In The U.S.

Video: Former Cruise Ship Captain Offers "Ghost Tours" Of Empty Cruise Liners In South England

Video: Former Cruise Ship Captain Offers "Ghost Tours" Of Empty Cruise Liners In South England

Variety Cruises' Galileo, The First Eastern Mediterranean Cruise In The COVID Era

Variety Cruises' Galileo, The First Eastern Mediterranean Cruise In The COVID Era

Video: Royal Caribbean Group Announces E-muster, Keyless Cabin Check-in And Other App Improvements

Video: Royal Caribbean Group Announces E-muster, Keyless Cabin Check-in And Other App Improvements

Drone Footage Of MSC Grandiosa Docked In Genoa For First Sailing Since The COVID-19 Pandemic

Drone Footage Of MSC Grandiosa Docked In Genoa For First Sailing Since The COVID-19 Pandemic

Disney Cruise Line Announces Disney Wish

Disney Cruise Line Announces Disney Wish

Cruise Critic's 2019 Cruisers' Choice Award Winners!

Cruise Critic's 2019 Cruisers' Choice Award Winners!

Virgin Voyages Unveils Beach Club And Entertainment

Virgin Voyages Unveils Beach Club And Entertainment

First Look At Virgin Voyages' Scarlet Lady

First Look At Virgin Voyages' Scarlet Lady

Royal Caribbean Odyssey Of The Seas Steel Cutting At Meyer Werft

Royal Caribbean Odyssey Of The Seas Steel Cutting At Meyer Werft

Ritz Carlton Yacht Collection To Debut In 2020

Ritz Carlton Yacht Collection To Debut In 2020

Silversea Cruises World Cruises 2021

Silversea Cruises World Cruises 2021

Virgin Voyages Reveals Suite Design New Cruise Ship

Virgin Voyages Reveals Suite Design New Cruise Ship

Celebrity Edge Sneak Peek: Why You Should Be Excited About Celebrity Cruises' Ship

Celebrity Edge Sneak Peek: Why You Should Be Excited About Celebrity Cruises' Ship

Celebrity Edge Shipyard Hyperlapse Tour

Celebrity Edge Shipyard Hyperlapse Tour

Marella Cruises Cast Members Rehearse New Show Debut

Marella Cruises Cast Members Rehearse New Show Debut

Shipyard Tour: Royal Caribbean’s Symphony Of The Seas Gets Its Finishing Touches -- Video

Shipyard Tour: Royal Caribbean’s Symphony Of The Seas Gets Its Finishing Touches -- Video

Shaquille "Shaq" O'neal Named Chief Fun Officer Of Carnival Cruise Line

Shaquille "Shaq" O'neal Named Chief Fun Officer Of Carnival Cruise Line

Carnival Cruise Line's "Choose Fun" Commercial

Carnival Cruise Line's "Choose Fun" Commercial

Live From MSC Seaside:  A Cruise Ship Designed For The Outdoors

Live From MSC Seaside: A Cruise Ship Designed For The Outdoors

Royal Caribbean’s Spectrum Of The Seas Celebrates Keel Laying

Royal Caribbean’s Spectrum Of The Seas Celebrates Keel Laying

Sneak Peak At Symphony Of The Seas

Sneak Peak At Symphony Of The Seas

Spectrum Of The Seas Steel Cutting At Meyer Werft

Spectrum Of The Seas Steel Cutting At Meyer Werft

HRH Prince Phillip Visits Cunard's Fleet

HRH Prince Phillip Visits Cunard's Fleet

Royal Rendezvous: 3 Cunard Queens Arrive In Southampton

Royal Rendezvous: 3 Cunard Queens Arrive In Southampton

Celebrity Silhouette's Conveyance

Celebrity Silhouette's Conveyance

"Exactly the kind of news we needed," Cruiser670 wrote. "That sure lifts the spirits today," echoed combine.

Bringing Ashford to Azamara will also influence the brand's growth. The news release from Sycamore announcing his appointment cited his experience in cruise, and noted that he would be working with line President Carol Cabezas.

Ashford's tenure at Holland America was notable for the numerous partnerships that he brought the line. He oversaw the brand's renewed focus on food and entertainment, updating the Culinary Council with new celebrity chefs and bringing more music onboard with the addition of venues such as the Rolling Stone Rock Room and Live at Lincoln Center.

Orlando Ashford with Oprah Winfrey on the "Girls’ Getaway" cruise on Nieuw Statendam (Photo: Holland America)

He also spearheaded the line's partnership with Oprah Winfrey, bringing her book club onboard and creating special sailings with talk show icon. Winfrey served as godmother of HAL's most recent new ship, Nieuw Statendam. Holland America's fleet also underwent an extensive under Ashford, with updates to many of the ships' public spaces, as well as upgrades to the suites.

Whether Azamara will go down a similar road under Ashford's leadership remains to be seen. All four ships in the fleet are vessels built for the defunct Renaissance Cruises, known as "R-class ships," between 1998 and 2001. The ships are cozy, at 684 passengers, and have a loyal following among cruisers. (Oceania Cruises has the other four original R-class ships.).

For years, Azamara was led by industry veteran Larry Pimentel, who leaned into the fact that the smaller ships could go into smaller ports. The line jumped on the experiential travel trend before its competitors, promoting "destination immersion" and adding longer and overnight port stays.

Azamara Quest (Photo: Azamara)

As other lines began doing the same thing, though, Azamara lost some of its edge to brands that could offer newer ships, fresher refurbishments and more itinerary choices.

With a new ship, new owners and a leader known for shaking things up, though, Azamara could regain momentum.

"We are pleased for Orlando to take on this role as Azamara embarks on its next chapter supported by Sycamore Partners," said Stefan Kaluzny, managing director of Sycamore Partners. "Orlando brings significant leadership experience as well as specific expertise in the cruise and travel industry, making him well-suited to serve as Azamara's Executive Chairman."

Said Ashford: "I am thrilled to be appointed to the role of executive chairman at this exciting time for Azamara, having long admired the business and the brand. I believe Azamara is uniquely positioned in the industry, and I look forward to executing on our shared vision for growth. Together with the Azamara team, we'll focus on offering Azamara's loyal customers more of what they have come to know and love."

How was this article?

Featured News

1
Carnival Set to Launch Its Largest-Ever Cruise Ship, Mardi Gras - Rollercoaster and All
5
Just Back From: A Cruise Onboard The World's Largest Square-Rigged Sailing Ship
Want to cruise smarter?
Get expert advice, insider tips and more.
By proceeding, you agree to Cruise Critic’s Privacy Policy and Terms of Use.

We have updated the Cruise Critic Privacy and Cookie Statement effective on October 1, 2020. Please click here for more information.