If you've spent any time on an Azamara Ship over the years, you're probably familiar with Tony Markey. Azamara's long-standing Cruise Director, Tony has been entertaining guests worldwide and managing an ever-expanding cast of performers for more than 12 years. But Tony's never been one to stay still for too long. In fact, his mother always said he was born with itchy feet! That's why we're excited — and not at all surprised — to announce that Tony has accepted new roles as Food & Beverage Manager and Relief Hotel Director on the Azamara Journey. Tony's a natural leader, and we're looking forward to watching him flourish in these positions.
Recently, we had a chance to chat with Tony about these exciting new developments, his favorite Azamara memories, the best places to travel, what he's most looking forward to when we sail again, and more. Here are some highlights from that chat.
Check out the Complete Transcript of Our Chat With Tony Below
What are you most looking forward to in your new role?
The challenge of new responsibility, working outside of my comfort zone, and learning lots of new stuff!
What will be some of your duties in this new role?
Managing the Food and Beverage department, overall use of the budget, public health inspections, working with chef and the team to ensure the Azamara quality is always there, and bringing my own sense of humor to the role!
What made you consider making the change from Cruise Director to F&B Manager/HD Reliever?
I have been Cruise Director for more than 16 years and achieved every goal I ever set for myself. Although I still obviously enjoy singing and being entertaining, it was the actual day-to-day managing of the people in my department that drove me. This was recognized by ship management. I was asked whether, when there was an opportunity, if I would ever consider moving away from entertaining and into a more direct management role.
The Hotel Director role shares many of the attributes of a Cruise Director, with guest contact, etc., but my department will now grow from 21 to all of the hotel division. A little daunting!
What are one or some of your most favorite memories from being the Cruise Director?
Wow, so many great and memorable times. From the entertaining side, I’ve had the chance to sing my favorite songs that have emotionally touched people. Songs like Danny Boy can mean so much to so many. Also, being able to push the boundaries and sing Bohemian Rhapsody is just good for the soul. But, I think it is the people I have met that I will remember forever. I have been fortunate to meet and chat with Sir Roger Moore, Lech Walesa, Lord Trimble, Walter Cronkite, Mr & Mrs. Dupont, Ladybird Johnson, Annie Liebovitz, Cliff Richard, and the Beach Boys!
What are you most looking forward to when we can travel again?
Returning to amazing destinations such as Australia and Vietnam, but also to the out-of-the-way ports I love. This can be Sorrento or Pisco. I never take our destinations for granted and never really have since I first cruised back in 1988.
Once safe, where do you want to travel first?
I had a ‘significant’ birthday last year and had two weeks in New York and Washington D.C. booked. Sadly, the lockdown stopped that, so it is on hold until we can travel again, but that is still top of my list.
What is your favorite part of working with Azamara?
Easy. The people. Both guests, crew, and our Miami office. After so long at sea and working for so many companies, it is easy to say none have ever offered what Azamara offers. The best and hardest working and happy crew who I get to know personally as well as incredible, interesting, and well-traveled guests. When you take the time to sit and chat with them, you can learn so much.
Also, I have never worked for any company where the President is just a call or an email away. I know I can email Carol Cabeza at any time, and she will reply personally. That simply doesn’t happen elsewhere.
Is there somewhere Azamara travels that you think is underrated? What makes this place so special?
The West Coast of South America. To stop in Pisco and then fly over the Nazca Lines is the stuff of dreams. Or, dock in La Serena, Chile, to visit the Cerro Tololo Observatory. Relatively untouched and a place of world-class memories.
As we’re sure you know, Azamara guests love seeing you around our ships. Will guests on the Journey still have an opportunity to see you in your new role?
The role of Food and Beverage Manager is to oversee the entire Food and Beverage department, but during the evenings, I will be walking each restaurant and chatting to guests. As well as wandering the ship when I can. Not just to talk about food, but how the day has been, good tips for tours, etc.
As Hotel Director, it is all about being out there and making that connection with guests. This is definitely where my Cruise Director background and not being a shrinking violet will pay dividends.
Also, of course, every single morning, I will be on the gangway as always to greet our guests as they head out to explore.
If you could choose one song to sum up your journey with Azamara, what would it be, and why?
A relatively unknown broadway song from a show called ‘A New Brain’. It is my theme song, I guess: I’d Rather Be Sailing. [Editor's Note: You can watch Tony perform I'd Rather Be Sailing — as well as more iconic songs — as part of the Virtual Azamara Performance]
You’ve been sailing the world consistently since 2005; what have you missed most during this year ashore?
Lockdown has been difficult for everyone I know, but since I am used to living in a relatively enclosed environment with my lovely wife, Christine, who sails a lot with me, it has been fairly easy to cope with. I have kept busy learning new skills and recording lots of songs in my home studio. But I have really missed the different cultures and accents I live with day to day. Each morning, walking from my room to my office and stopping at the Mosaic for a macchiato, I can speak with six or seven nationalities and maybe 20 accents. I love that about cruising, and it can be a humbling experience.
Oh yea, and I miss my bed moving at night!
Thanks again for taking the time to chat with us Tony, and good luck in your new roles. We know you're sure to get a five star review from guests and our team alike. To keep up to date with all the latest news from Azamara, be sure to subscribe to our newsletter.
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