Tom Stieghorst
Tom Stieghorst

Land vacations and river cruises are popular options this year for rewarding top-selling cruise agents.

For instance, Cruise Planners took a group of nearly two dozen agents on a weeklong tour of Italy in April, hosted by Cruise Planners executives Michelle Fee and Vicky Garcia.

The group started in Florence and stayed at the Villa la Palagina in Tuscany and the Grand Hotel Bristol Resort & Spa in Lake Maggiore, among other spots. The trip revolved around shopping; great food and wine; and authentic Italian experiences, Cruise Planners said.

“This year, we have grown our land-based business so it was a natural decision to experience Europe with so many of our top-producing agents,” said Fee, Cruise Planners’ CEO and co-founder.

A month earlier, Vacation.com took a group of 28 of its best-selling agents and their guests on a chartered five-night cruise to Belgium and the Netherlands aboard Avalon Waterway’s Avalon Illumination as a way to reward their success.

While in the Netherlands, guests took excursions to the Keukenhof gardens in Lisse, toured 17th century windmills and spent an exclusive evening in Rotterdam for a Best of Rotterdam gala dinner event.

V-com President John Lovell said the trip fostered networking between agency owners, suppliers and the headquarters staff.

“The small and intimate nature of the event was a real highlight,” said llie Noyes, manager of the vacation division at Acendas Travel, Kansas City.

At CruiseOne, 17 of the 20 top-producing franchise owners in the network’s Circle of Excellence recognition program took a Tulip Time river cruise earlier in May aboard the AmaSonata.

The voyage was capped by a dinner with Kirsten Karst, executive vice president and co-owner of AmaWaterways, and Brad Tolkin, co-CEO/chairman of CruiseOne’s parent company, World Travel Holdings.

Interestingly, none of the groups took an ocean cruise, which remains the bread-and-butter product of many travel agencies, although the Cruise Planners’ trip did feature a tie-in with Oceania Cruises.

Joe Eastup, regional sales director in South Florida for Oceania, presented information about the line’s product and European sailings while on the Cruise Planners river trip. 

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