In February of 2005 I enrolled in the CLIA (Cruise Line International Association) ACC (Accredited Cruise Counsellor) and MCC (Master Cruise Counsellor) programs. In June I was certified as an Accredited Cruise Counsellor. In August I was certified as a Master Cruise Counsellor.
In mid-2008 I completed the next level - Elite Cruise Counsellor (ECC). (And, yes, CLIA spells Counsellor with two L's, even though that's not the common English spelling.)
Although I take training offered whenever I can, I’d never “wrapped it all up” into something official that I could proudly display to my clients before 2005. Much of my training and cruise experience I already had qualified me for both the first level of certification (the ACC level), and the higher MCC level. In order to qualify, you have to take a combination of classroom training, a number of actual cruises, sell a certain volume of cruises in a short amount of time, and “inspect” a number of ships. (An inspection can be a tour of a ship while it’s in a port, rather than an overnight sailing of it.) To reach the Master level you have to do more of the same types of things already mentioned, but you also have to write lengthy essays or "case studies". The case studies make you intelligently explain why you'd suggest one line or cruise over another for a specific person or group given a particular scenario.
The Elite level is nearly the highest level that can be attained, and is further classroom training, combined with more cruises sailed, ships inspected and requires a large volume of cruises sold within a calendar year. (Thus proving your 'experience'.) There are very few Elite Cruise Counsellors out there, so you can be sure I really know my stuff!
In May, 2007 the Cruise Line International Association launched the "Luxury Cruise Specialist" program. This program is open to anyone who is an ACC or higher who wishes to have a 'specialty' of luxury cruising as part of their overall cruise knowledge. I completed the coursework (three new classes specific to the incentive and luxury market) and completed ship tours of luxury vessels right away and was one of the very first agents who was qualified to put LCS after my (then) MCC designation.
I competed the Las Vegas Visitor's and Convention Bureau's "Vegas Certified" online training in July, 2009. This seemed like a formality since I go to Las Vegas multiple times a year and try different hotels and see different shows all the time. If you're looking for an expert on Las Vegas to help you plan a trip, give me a call. I am knowledgeable and can find great package pricing for you!
I completed the Holland America Academy in January, 2009. It's a paper workbook followed by a 'final exam'. I had completed the thick text in 2007, but had technical difficulties with the online exam back then and didn't give it another try until they fully revamped their online testing software in late 2008.
My training in River Cruises was quite extensive in 2008. In the Spring I did a Webinar class put on by Peter Deilmann Cruises. I completed the Uniworld Grand River Cruise Specialist program in May. And then in June took training from Uniworld both in a Webinar and in person at my annual travel conference. I also took training from Viking River Cruises at my conference in June. And then upon on my return I did a four-part Webinar training program offered by Avalon Waterways. (A Webinar is a seminar online where I watch a presentation on my computer and listen via my phone. Like going to a class, but not having to leave my office.) This extensive effort to do training on River Cruising allows me to help you select the perfect River Cruise line for you!
On May 31, 2006, Princess launched a new “Princess Expert” program in conjunction with a new interface in their travel agent Website. The program consists of four levels of training named after on-ship rank levels. The first is “First Officer”, the second “Staff Captain”, the third “Captain” and the highest is “Commodore”.
Each level of training requires an agent to complete multiple 20-30-minute training modules followed by a quiz. Of course, my desire was to work an entire day or two sometime to be the first “Commodore”, but technology being what it is, they don’t even have that many modules BUILT yet for agents to take! As it stands, I was able to complete enough modules to be a Princess Expert - First Officer level on the first day. The module roll-out took a few months, but I was Commodore on the day the graduation class was launched, November 1, 2006.
Cunard Line launched a similar training program, which I graduated as a Commodore Expert on November 1, 2006.
Each year we are required to take “refresher” courses in both the Princess Academy and Cunard Academy to make sure we’re up-to-date on the newest itineraries and policies of both lines. If we do not do these refreshers, we would no longer be considered a Commodore Expert in that line.
I completed the "College of Disney Knowledge" program in January, 2006, which is a correspondence course followed by a test at the end on the three main Disney's offerings. This includes Disneyland Resort in California, Walt Disney World Resort in Florida, and the Disney Cruise Line. I am now considered a "Disney Specialist" and can help you plan a magical vacation on land or sea.
In early May of 2006 I applied to take a 2 ½ week course to be a Certified Destination Weddings Specialist (CDWS). Only about 10% of applicants get chosen to be invited into the program, so I was excited to be accepted in May, but I was too busy to begin training until July. So, in July I did the entire course and graduated July 26th. I now help brides and grooms with beach AND sea weddings.
In addition, I’ve completed a six-part program offered by Norwegian Cruise Line to be considered a “NCL specialist plus” with them.
In 2007 Celebrity Cruises launched an online training program and also a full day 'boot camp' type training program to become a "Celebrity Expert". I did the online training as soon as I could and the full day of live triaining soon after. Not to be outdone, Royal Caribbean launched an online training program in March and I completed all levels available on the day it was loaded into their Website.
And on the land-only vacation side, I’ve completed the training necessary to be a Club Med Specialist, and Outrigger Hotels Specialist, and a Sandals and Beaches Resorts Specialist.
In addition to the specific programs, I’ve taken seminars on many topics. There are too many to list, but to give you an idea of the diversity of my training, here is a “short list”:
- Tahiti and her islands
- Hawaiian Islands
- Australia, New Zealand and the South Pacific
- Canada and Canadian Rockies rail tours
- Europe and European rail systems
- Brendan Tours
- Insight Vacations
- Holland America Cruise Line
- Princess Cruises
- WindStar Cruises
- Cruise West
- Norwegian Coastal Voyage
- Viking River Cruises
- Carnival Cruise Line
- Cunard Line
- Yachts of Seabourne
- Royal Caribbean International
- Celebrity Cruises
- Oceania Cruises
- Southwest Vacations
- United Vacations
- Amtrak Vacations
- Greyline Tours
- Tauck World Discovery Tours
- JDB Luxury Hotels
- TravelEx Travel Insurance
- Collette Tours
- ATS Tours / Islands in the Sun
- CSA Travel Insurance
- African Travel
- Uniworld Grand River Cruises
- Contiki Tours
- Avalon Waterways
- Globus Tours
I am also licensed to sell travel insurance in California.