Becoming a Travel Agent (Part 3)

Think it's a cakewalk to get started in this career? Think again ...

On ship inspection days we boarded a bus after our morning class break (we generally started class at 8:00 a.m. on these days, making breakfast in the hotel lobby a luxury I could no longer afford). The Carnival and Princess ships were docked at Port Everglades, mere blocks away -- but the Freedom of the Seas inspection involved an hour's bus ride to the nearby Port of Miami.

When we arrived at the port, we lined up and waited for our cruise line representative to get us aboard the ship. We had to hand in our passport or driver's license to a port agent, and got a special visitor's badge in return. We would get our documents back only after returning the badge at the end of our tour, ensuring that none of us tried to stow away for a free cruise!

Bring Running Shoes Once we were onboard, it was a mad dash to see as much of the ship as we could in about an hour. We looked in on cabins of various types, from balconies to insides and suites. We saw handicapped cabins and family cabins. We saw an interesting concept called "atrium staterooms" that looked out onto a sweeping, panoramic atrium extending 11 decks.

We also toured the public rooms -- and these ships have a lot of public spaces. We saw the bars and lounges, children's facilities, pools, the big movie screen on the outside Lido deck, special facilities such as the rock climbing wall, Flowrider, ice skating rink, video arcade, show lounges, casino, onboard shops, and everything in between. We would literally run in and out of these venues, taking a quick look around and snapping a few photos. (Photographs would be important, the CruisePlanners home office staff told us. We will want them to show or email to our prospective clients. I took about 450 photographs during the four hours allocated for touring these ships!)

Even our bus ride to and from the Miami pier was used for teaching, as the CruisePlanners agents and home office staff took turns at the microphone talking about the best ways to secure group bookings and work with the cruise lines in accommodating their special needs. It seemed that not one minute of our time in Fort Lauderdale was going to be wasted on frivolity: This was definitely a "working" trip. CruisePlanners has a stellar reputation in the industry, and they wanted to ensure that each new agent would uphold it. Time and time again we were told: "If you have questions, call Home Office. Don't try to figure things out on your own. Reach out for help. That's what we're here for."

Continue Article >> Becoming a Travel Agent (Part 4)

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