by Lisa Grimaldi | June 01, 2007

Royal Caribbean International has launched a new upscale brand, Azamara Cruises, with two 710-passenger ships, Azamara Journey and Azamara Quest. Both vessels formerly were owned by now-defunct Renaissance Cruises.

The Journey, which underwent a $19 million refurbishment, began sailing last month. The Quest will begin service in October.

The Azamara brand offers ultra-deluxe service and distinguishes itself from RCI’s premium Celebrity Cruises brand by offering destination-oriented itineraries in remote places where Celebrity’s larger ships are unable to go. Amenities include butler service in every cabin category, and Azamara will not have formal nights.

In addition to the Caribbean and Europe, the ships will offer itineraries in Asia beginning next year.