CLIA, ICCL join forces to publish agent guide

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NEW YORK -- Along with the cruise industry's growth during the last decade has come a host of environmental, operational and safety issues that are coming to the attention of cruise vacationers.

To help agents deal with clients' questions about increasingly complex issues affecting the industry, the Cruise Line Coalition, a joint initiative of the Cruise Lines International Association (CLIA) and the International Council of Cruise Lines (ICCL), published "Inside Cruising: A Guide for Travel Professionals."

Agents can provide clients with more accurate information on port and cruise safety with a new guide from CLIA and ICCL. The 16-page booklet is designed to help cruise-selling agents answer questions that range from ship safety and security to environmental practices, regulatory oversight and other issues.

"There was a need to educate travel agents on more 'hard' issues because they are getting more questions on these matters from their clients," said Angela Plott, ICCL vice president.

"The more educated agents are [and] the more they know, the better they can serve their clients."

The booklet features a profile of contemporary cruise passengers and a synopsis of the industry's growth.

Also included are sections on the economic impact of the cruise industry on the U.S. economy; cruise ship safety; security and environmental procedures, and medical care available aboard ships.

The booklet also explains several terms and phrases that have appeared in news accounts which could come up in conversations with cruise clients, particularly sophisticated cruisers, according to officials.

The booklet explains, for example, the acronyms IMO (International Maritime Organization, a United Nations agency established in 1948 to set international maritime policy), ISM Code (International Safety Management Code, mandatory safety and anti-pollution standards adopted by the IMO which mandate a safety management system aboard all cruise ships) and Solas (International Convention for the Safety of Life at Sea, which establishes international regulations addressing key elements of maritime safety, including fire protection and ship stability).

Also included is a list of organizations and agencies that work closely with the cruise industry internationally and in North America.

"Most of the attention the cruise industry receives, whether it's in the travel industry, the business world or in the media, is highly positive and supportive," said Jim Godsman, CLIA president.

"However, occasionally an incident or situation will prompt negative commentary," he added. "When this happens, agents may be in the position of having to answer questions about behind-the-scenes policies and procedures. This booklet is designed to be a handy reference in such situations."

"Inside Cruising" is being distributed to all CLIA-affiliated agencies and will be available at upcoming trade shows and conferences at which CLIA participates.

The booklet also is being posted on CLIA's Web site, at www.cruising.org, in the CLIA-affiliate section as a file that can be downloaded and printed.

It also is posted on the ICCL Web site, at www.iccl.org.

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