Here is the information that we discussed on the Tuesday 11-12-19 Zoom with Ron, Don and Cathy. Below, you will find some of the sites you can go to for FAM trips. As a reminder, these are working vacations, it’s not all fun and games. You will get greatly reduced prices, and have your days planned with some trainings and tours.
Next week we will be on the MSC Miraviglia for a 5-day cruise out of Miami for $299 each.
Check the Travel Cafe’s LIVE WEBINARS tab for a replay of the 11-12-19 Zoom call. Our next Zoom will be on Tuesday November 26, 2019 at 4 pm PST. Dial in: 728 887 4735
When asked what their fam trip policy was for travel agents, here is what the ocean cruise lines said:
Azamara Club Cruises – Agents must have sold at least one booking in the past 12 months on any of the three brands: Azamara, Celebrity and Royal Caribbean International.
Carnival Cruise Lines – Discounted travel agent rates are distributed to all individual travel agents who are signed up to receive Carnival emails (see GoCCL.com). Rates are subject to availability on a first-come, first-serve basis.
Celebrity Cruises – The line has Seminar at Sea availability throughout the year to help travel agents learn and experience their product. Travel agents must work with their Celebrity sales manager to learn how to join one of these seminars.
Crystal Cruises – Crystal posts agent rate cruises on their agent site year-round.
MSC Cruises – MSC offers seminars at sea multiple times throughout the year as well as ship tours when any of their ships are docked in their homeport. All can be coordinated through the travel agent’s BDM.
Norwegian Cruise Line – Fams are provided through the BDM’s discretion or offered to travel partners through headquarters. The line wants every travel partner to experience their product.
Oceania Cruises – Oceania offers travel agent reduced rates. More information can be found in the travel agent center.
Paul Gauguin Cruises – Reduced rate travel is offered to industry partners with verification of employment. Confirmation is typically given inside 30 days of sailing.
Regent Seven Seas – All agent partners may submit requests for reduced rates with confirmation from 30-7 days prior to sailing. The agent rate depends on agency production.
Royal Caribbean Cruise Line – Land familiarization events are planned through the local strategic account manager. Typically an invitation is sent to the travel agency advising them of the fam opportunity. In addition, the Seminar at Sea experience creates and combines both classroom learning and the cruise experience. Travel agents can partner with their local strategic account manager for an invitation throughout the year.
Seabourn – Fams are invitation-based for agents registered for the Insider (TP Newsletter) and who completed the Seabourn Academy.
Silversea Cruises – The travel agent center of the line’s website offers a list of travel agent reduced fares, which vary by category and voyage.
Viking Ocean Cruises – Fam trips are based on availability and demand. Travel agents can contact their director of business development and/or inside sales to learn more.
Windstar Cruises – Windstar regularly offers reduced rates for its travel agent partners. A downloadable PDF of the most current rates, as well as the terms and conditions, is available via the agent hub.
Although we are really enjoying our time in Medellín, it’s a huge, noisy, polluted city and we are country people at heart. So when our friend Stephanie suggested we take a four-day trip to the town of Jardín, we eagerly agreed.
Stephanie is a dear friend from the states who moved to Colombia and promptly met and married a local. He has a daughter Mae’s age, and they go to daycare together (funnily enough, daycare is called “jardín” or “garden” here). So we were all well-acquainted and ready to tackle a double family vacation together.
As a short brunette, I more or less fit in here in South America. Yes, I’m pale and I wear sandals and shorts and speak Spanish like an elementary school student with a funny accent, but people generally don’t look twice at me. However, Carson and Mae are both tall and blonde. This draws a LOT of attention; people often point and elbow their friends to look, especially when Carson is wearing Mae in our hiking backpack (an incredible invention that does not exist here – baby wearing is not a thing, which is everyone’s loss because it is so dang convenient). We have seen jaws literally drop, and one guy tripped off a curb gawking at them. It’s all extremely good natured and for the most part we get a chuckle out of it. Sometimes it goes a bit far, though.
Join Elly Eves for a webinar that will demonstrate the booking process of Polar Online from start to finish, including all of the functions and options Polar Online has to offer that will make your life easier as a travel agent.
Yesterday, Carson, Mae, and I ventured out to a nearby mall, El Centro Comercial Molinos, because our cell phones have been acting up and we were told the customer service center there could help us. (Frustrating side note: they couldn’t.)
None of the kids wore costumes at Mae’s school, so we figured that a few businesses putting up fake cobwebs and black and orange balloons was basically the extent of the Halloween celebration. WE WERE WRONG.
This video is not great quality. It’s hard to hear me narrating it. I was totally overwhelmed when I shot it. We were gobsmacked by what we witnessed when we walked into Molinos, an enormous eight-floor mall that was packed from top to bottom with kids and adults in costumes. Mae was one of just two children I saw without one on. There was a stage with a kid’s costume competition, briefly captured from above in the video; all the stores were giving out candy; and some of the costumes and make-up were truly elaborate. Fortunately Mae is too young to understand what she was missing, and as you can see by her face in the opening shot she was pretty overwhelmed, too. (She was stoked about the candy people kept giving her, though.)
A note about “los centros comerciales” in Colombia: There are a lot of small indoor shopping centers and several large malls in Medellín, because for a long time those were the only safe places to be in public. The city has done a remarkable job of rebounding from decades of violence – I’ve never once felt unsafe here – but during the reign of Pablo Escobar (especially in Medellín) and the 50+ year long civil war with the FARC (country-wide) there were countless assaults, kidnappings, and murders. I usually hate malls (honestly we got out of there as fast as we could last night) but I appreciate what they represent to the Colombian people.