Fla. Agency cashes in on adventure travel for seniors

LEESBURG, Fla. -- More of today's financially and physically fit seniors are riding the adventure-travel wagon, and it is the successful agent who climbs on board.

The Rocky Mountaineer runs from Banff, Alberta, to Vancouver, British Columbia. Take Paul Holland, vice president of Barbara's Cruises and Tours, an agency here that markets mainly to seniors.

Although some agents contacted by Travel Weekly said they dropped their senior itineraries in favor of adventure (read "younger") travelers, Holland has begun offering older adults rail tours and tall-mast cruises along with the traditional motorcoach trips and Alaska cruises. "TransCanada by Train [tour] is very popular as well as Windjammer cruises," Holland said.

The TransCanada itinerary is operated by Maupintour, which pays agents a standard commission of 10%. But according to David Smith, Maupintour's marketing communications manager, commissions can go as high as 17%, depending upon the number of sales and special marketing agreements that have been made with several consortia.

Barbara's Cruises and Tours belongs to GEM Cruiselink, a member of the Travel Associates Network consortia, and earns between 13% and 17%, Holland said.

Maupintour's 12-day rail trip begins in Toronto aboard the Canadian, switches to motorcoach in Jasper, Alberta, for the ride to Banff, where passengers board the Rocky Mountaineer train for the two-day trip to Vancouver, British Columbia. The rail tour operates from early June to late September at a price of $3,495 per person.

Miami-based Windjammer Barefoot Cruises' passengers can choose from one of six tall ships or the company's "workhorse" vessel, a supply ship turned small-cruise ship.

For the less intrepid, Barbara's Cruises and Tours sells multiday motorcoach trips to South Carolina, Georgia, Tennessee and South Florida as well as day trips to Disney, the Space Coast, Busch Gardens "and places that people would not think of on their own," Holland said.

Here is a sampling:

  • Savannah Retreat, a tour of the Georgia city, Sept. 27 to 29. For $323 per person, double, motorcoach passengers receive two nights' accommodations at the Days Inn Historic, two breakfasts, lunch at Mrs. Wilkes Boarding House, a Southern buffet at Lady and Sons restaurant, dinner at the Riverhouse restaurant and a city and book tour ("Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil") with a step-on guide.
  • A Dickens Christmas, Savannah and Myrtle Beach, S.C., Nov. 10 to 14. The annual Dickens Christmas Show and Festival is a 19th century country fair.
  • The setting includes gas street lamps, three-dimensional London row houses and a 28-foot Victorian tree.

    Crafts, toys and antiques will be offered for sale, and the Beggars Ball features a dance band and a full Elizabethan-style supper (no utensils). The program includes a Holiday Plantation Tour with a Victorian holiday luncheon.

    Entertainment includes the "Carolina Opry's Christmas Show" and the "Radio City Christmas Spectacular," starring the Rockettes, at the Palace Theater.

    The price of $528 per person, double, includes motorcoach transportation, one night in Savannah and three in Myrtle Beach, four breakfasts, two lunches, four dinners, all admissions on the itinerary, taxes and gratuities. For more information, call Maupintour at (800) 255-4266 and Windjammer Barefoot Cruises at (305) 672-6453.

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