Monday, January 25, 2010

The MSC Poesia is a New Cruising Experience for Me

I've been on a lot of cruise ships but this Saturday, I will be boarding the MSC Poesia, one of MSC Cruises' newest ships, in Fort Lauderdale. This is the first time I will be cruising with MSC Cruises and I'm looking forward to finding out first hand if all the company hype about Italian charm is really true. When it comes right down to it, is Italian charm really different from Scandinavian charm, British charm or Greek charm? Given that my maiden name is Colombi, you would think I should already know the answer to this question!

I know you'll laugh when I tell you that this cruise is truly a working cruise for me as I will be involved in a series of seminars about organizing group cruises. Although I've planned, organized, and promoted many group cruises, it seems that you can never know enough as it's becoming increasing difficult to stay abreast of the cruise lines' ever-changing group policies. A few years ago, it was easy to sell a group cruise because group prices were lower than the prevailing cruise rates. However, it is a totally different animal when group prices are higher than the prevailing rates and the prevailing rates get even lower as the sailing date approaches. In this economic environment, it seems that the cruise lines are encouraging passengers to wait until the last minute to book. I suppose it works as long as you don't care where you are on the ship and you're not looking for a stateroom that accommodates more than two people.

Oh well. As a diva in the cruise business, I'm looking to stay afloat (no pun intended) no matter what the economy happens to be doing. If you're feeling flush, why not cruise to celebrate your success? If you're staring into the economic abyss, why not cruise to forget about it for a few days and perhaps get inspired at sea?

Getting back to the MSC Poesia and Italian charm --I'll report back while at sea in between seminars.

Monday, January 11, 2010

Rock 'n' Roll Celebration Cruise

As a Cruise Diva, I particularly enjoy planning and organizing cruises that offer something different and special. That's why I'm thrilled to be involved with the Rock 'n' Roll Celebration Cruise. If you happen to be running in the Rock 'n' Roll Seattle Marathon & 1/2 Marathon on June 26, then why not celebrate your success and join us on a 7-day cruise to Alaska on board the Sapphire Princess? Finish the race on June 26 and get on board at Pier 91 in Seattle on June 27!

The Rock 'n' Roll Celebration cruise features Frank Shorter, America's greatest distance runner and the last to win a gold medal in the Olympics which he did in Munich in 1972. Frank will be offering clinics on board that you don't want to miss.

You are welcome to join us even if you're not up to a marathon or 1/2 marathon. After all, when was the last time you had the chance to mingle with and get inspired by a Gold Medal Olympian?

Saturday, January 2, 2010

My New Year's Resolution

Happy New Year! It's a great time to put my New Year's Resolution in writing.

This is the year that Cruise Holidays of Bellevue is going to evolve from a brick-and-mortal old world retail travel agency into a successful virtual cruise travel agency with the ability to serve our clients effectively whether we're tasting fine French wines on a river cruise on the Rhône or trying to dazzle the Québécois with our French on a pre-cruise tour in Montreal.

Booking cruises is a labor intensive business that can generate tons of paper including various iterations of cruise confirmations from the cruise lines and God knows how many renditions of printed invoices from the agency. Rather than filling up file drawers full of printed reservation details, I'm committed to establishing electronic files with the same information so that I can access it anywhere at any time. Mailing paper cruise documents isn't much of an issue anymore as most of the cruise lines have migrated to electronic cruise documents or eDocs.

What are you looking for when you book a cruise with a travel agent rather than booking it on-line? Aren't you looking for someone who has a passion for cruising, who knows a thing a two about cruise lines, cruise ships and the cruising experience and who just might be able to provide some advice on how to make the ports of call come alive for you?

If so, I can tell you that a travel agent doesn't gain that experience shuffling paper in the office.

So in 2010, I'm going to get organized so that I spend less time in the office and more time discovering the remarkable world we live in and sharing it with you.