By Michael Akana at Apr. 27. 2015.

      Meeting Friends
      ECCS at Cruise3Sixty

      I dedicated a full week in April 2015 for my professional development as a travel agent, flying into Fort Lauderdale and attending Cruise3Sixty in at the Broward County Convention Center in Port Everglades Florida.
      Cruise3Sixty is the annual Cruise Lines International Association (CLIA) cruise and travel conference with over 1,300 travel agents, cruise and travel executives attending.  It is the perfect opportunity to network with suppliers, fellow agents (photo above: Joni Cohen of Party Cruisers Etc and Wendy Rosenberg of Fancy-Free Holidays) and other industry experts.
      My schedule was full with CLIA courses (photo below: Heidi Olsen, Manager of Training, and Carol Davis, instructional designer), panel discussions, destination and cruise line workshop, a townhall style feedback session, trade show, and general sessions offering a mix of news, panel discussions, and motivation speakers.

      I toured 5 cruise ships this week– Queen Victoria, Royal Princess Carnival Splendor and Celebrity Equinox — to experience the feel of new and innovative ships. Thank you Cunard, Princess, Carnival, Celebrity…and all of the cruise lines that made their ships available to CLIA agents during the conference!
      Both in Miami and at Port Everglades we walked through the experience passengers have when transferring to the ports, clearing security and embarking on a cruise.

      Surrounded by Training

      Surrounded by Training
      Heidi Olsen and Carol Davis

      I had previously reported concerns about changes at CLIA, how at Cruise3Sixty in 2007 I had met the hard working staff at the Cruise Lines International Association (CLIA) and over the years came to appreciate their attention and dedication to the cruise industry and to travel agents who relied on CLIA for industry news, training and recognition.  There had been sweeping staff changes in the last few years including drastic changes in the training program.  And now in 2015 CLIA is closing the Florida office and concentrating it’s presence and efforts in Washington D.C.  Many of the Florida staff are not moving to Washington D.C. and this last Cruise3Sixty ends their employment by CLIA.  They will be missed.
      I have renewed my Agent Membership this year. When I last renewed my registration to extend my three consecutive years as Elite Cruise Counselor Scholar (an achievement of perhaps 17 travel agents nationwide) CLIA had returned my fee and informed me that the program is on hold. So while my certifications as Accredited Cruise Counselor, Master Cruise Counselor, and Elite Cruise Counselor remain valid, several of us who have achieved the highest ranking as Elite Cruise Counselor Scholar are disappointed that CLIA is not continuing to recognize the extensive training and experience that distinguishes us in the industry.
      I completed two of the one hour courses last year and additional five of the one hour courses this year. In addition I was able to complete the requirements for the new Meetings and Events Sea certificate program. Meanwhile, as CLIA develops a new training program, I am completing the Travel Institute’s CTC (Certified Travel Counselor) program. As I said before, I still have my library of VHS and DVD workshops by Dr. Marc Mancini if I need a good refresher on the core competencies of a good travel agent.

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