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Royal Caribbean Group Is Shrinking Its Fleet, Selling Azamara To Private Equity Firm

MIAMI — Royal Caribbean Group is selling one of its four cruise lines — Azamara — to a New York-based private equity firm.

In a $201 million transaction, the second largest cruise company in the world plans to hand over the Azamara brand and its three cruise ships to Sycamore Partners by the end of March. The company’s decision to shrink its fleet comes after 10 months of canceled cruises in the U.S. due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Royal Caribbean Group CEO Richard Fain said in a statement that the sale allows the company to put more resources into its three remaining cruise lines: Royal Caribbean International, Celebrity Cruises and Silversea.

“… 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,” he said in a statement.

Created by Royal Caribbean Group in 2007, Azamara offers smaller, luxury cruises to destinations all over the world. Azamara Quest, Azamara Journey and Azamara Persuit were among Royal Caribbean Group’s smallest ships, carrying around 700 passengers, larger only than its Silversea ships, which carry about 600 passengers each.

Azamara Chief Operating Officer Carol Cabezas has been appointed president of the brand, the company said. A spokesperson for Royal Caribbean Group declined to comment on Azamara’s current number of employees and said he expects Azamara to stay in Miami.

This isn’t the company’s first shakeup as it copes with the nearly worldwide ban on cruises during the pandemic. In June 2020, Spanish cruise line Pullmantur, of which Royal Caribbean Group owns 49%, filed for reorganization. In July 2020, Royal Caribbean Group gained full ownership of Silversea by acquiring the remaining shares from Heritage Cruise Holding Ltd.

Sycamore Partners is known for recent investments in distressed retail chains. In 2017, Sycamore purchased Staples for $6.9 billion.

In a statement, Stefan Kaluzny, managing director of Sycamore Partners, said he is pleased with the sale.

“We are excited to partner with the Azamara team and build on their many years of success serving the brand’s loyal customers,” he said in a statement. “We believe Azamara will remain a top choice for discerning travelers as the cruising industry recovers over time.”

Azamara cruises are currently canceled through April 30, 2021.

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