By Michael Akana at Apr. 27. 2012.
      Woman in wheelchair on beach with arms outstreached

      Freedom to Travel

      Cruise3Sixty–April 28, 2012 Port Everglades, Broward County Convention Center


      Cruise3Sixty continues to be the premier cruise travel conference offering travel agents training in  industry and supplier courses and onboard exposure to the CLIA fleet of cruise ships.  Cruise lines show their commitment to travel sales professionals offering not only training, promotions and targeted sales pitches, but, perhaps more importantly, CEOs, Vice Presidents and top management personally offer their insights into current trends and personally thank travel agents for our sales and support of the industry.


      Christine Duffy, President and CEO of CLIA instills confidence in acknowledging the importance of travel agents to the cruise and travel industry.


      Cruise3Sixty is the venue where new courses often debut, and agents offer suggestions to those developing the coursework.  Sitting in on a new course presented by the developer, Dr. Marc Mancini, is a recurring highlight.  It is great seeing all of the CLIA trainers together at the same location, as well as meeting face to face staff who support day to day operations.


      Especially encouraging this year is the close partnerships of the Cruise Lines International Association with Travel Agent associations such as U.S. Travel Association.


      Bravo to CLIA for elevating the expectation of CLIA agents in recent years.  It is great seeing how many agents hold CLIA certification, are enrolled in the Accredited Cruise Counselor certification program or, better yet, are increasing their certification level to become Master Cruise Counselors, Elite Cruise Counselors or Elite Cruise Counselor Scholars.


      This year I am touring four ships–a ship a day–during the conference–Emerald Princess, Holland America Maasdam, the Crown Princess and Allure of the Seas.  The back-to-back exposure to different brands and different ships gives a good feel for the brand identity and an appreciation for the diversity of experience offered by the cruise industry.


      Of note in the training offerings is the new CLIA course in accessibility, helping agents identify solutions to help those who have a disability, and reviewing accommodations already in place by the industry.  Newer ships are already more accessible, with wider spaces, rounded corners, and consideration to incline.  While the availability of ADA staterooms continues to be limited, compared to the demand, early booking and working with a travel agent who is well versed in the needs of those requiring accommodation, makes cruises a great choice for travel.


      Several companies serving worldwide ports with medical equipment and supplies were represented at the trade show.  Passengers that may be well equipped on land may find alternate devices more useful at sea, a narrower wheelchair, for example

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