MILWAUKEE -- Say you have two clients who do not want to shop, swim, snorkel, sun or sightsee during a cruise stopover in St. Thomas. Nor do they want to remain on board while the ship is in port for eight hours. She wants to meet some local artists; he wants to take a flying lesson.

Enter ShoreTrips to the rescue, an industry newcomer with a pedigree. Not only does this brick-and-mortar-agency-turned-e-commerce business know the Caribbean inside and out, but it also pays commissions on prebooked land excursions, offers a travel agent portal on its Web site and has no minimum group size.

And to boot, ShoreTrips really knows its excursions, its vendors and its market.

Barry Karp, ShoreTrips' founder, is the former owner of 35-year-old Karp's Travel Service in Cincinnati, which specialized in Caribbean cruises. The agency was sold to Carlson last summer.

Clients on ShoreTrips' excursions frequently prefer to forsake the usual activities, such as sunning and swimming, for the unusual, such as visiting the studio of the artist Cheddie on Anguilla. During the years Karp ran the agency, he and partner Julie Ansfield set up numerous special-interest and small-group tours for their clients. In the process, they compiled and built a large network of local tour operators throughout the Caribbean.

That network is the heart of ShoreTrips' database, which lists 1,022 excursions on 26 islands, plus Key West and Miami, Fla.; New Orleans; New York; and the Mexican resort areas of Cancun, Cozumel and Puerto Vallarta.

Coming on line soon will be excursions in Belize, Costa Rica, Cuba, Panama Canal ports and Trinidad and Tobago, Karp said.

"ShoreTrips fills a void in the marketplace," Ansfield said. "Cruise passengers and land-only travelers can choose from a much wider variety of excursions, enjoy trips with smaller groups, avoid waiting in line to book and know in advance from our Web site the details of their excursion."

For agents, it's a win-win situation -- and more than 15,000 agents have registered since ShoreTrips officially launched Jan. 1.

Karp said no tour gets listed on the ShoreTrips site until either he or Ansfield have met the operator, tested the program and pronounced it fit.

Although ShoreTrips offers standard excursions, its forte is the unusual, such as cave explorations on Puerto Rico, Creole cooking lessons on St. Lucia and Aruba school visits.

The Web site also features a trip planner, which agents can use to build client itineraries. The planner also can create electronic brochures that can be personalized and e-mailed to clients.

Ansfield pointed out that "agents do not have to spend time selling our tours."

"They direct their clients to our site," she said. "Even if clients book directly with ShoreTrips, agents collect their commissions because they initially referred the customers to us."

Commissions range from $5 per client, per tour, for excursions priced up to $99; $10 for tours priced between $100 and $199; and $20 for tours priced from $200 to $299. The commission increases in $10 increments for each $100 price bracket.

ShoreTrips' most expensive tour costs $1,800 for a six-hour private powerboat tour of the waters surrounding Red Hook and the eastern end of St. Thomas.

"An eye surgeon booked this tour but because he had been referred to ShoreTrips by his travel agent, the agent got a commission," Ansfield said.

For information on ShoreTrips, call (888) 355-0220 or visit www.shoretrips.com.

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