Marla Becomes a Travel Agent
During the 2001
Vera Cruz Trip when I first met Marla, I soon learned that
travel has always been one of her
favorite hobbies. While the trip to Vera Cruz was my third cruise,
Marla was already in double digits.
As I talked to
Marla about her love of travel, my mind was already racing
ahead to the future.
Even though I
barely knew the woman, I was already planning the rest of
our life together. Marla and I knew almost
immediately from the very first night of that trip that our
destiny was intertwined. Call it Fate, call it Love at
First Sight, but we both knew this was it.
In addition to
meeting the woman I would someday marry, the 2001 Trip also
taught me how effectively SSQQ Dancing and Cruise Trips
could work hand in hand. I was prepared to promote
more cruises through SSQQ, but first I had to figure out a
way to stop giving the commissions to someone else.
the moment we met I realized Marla was a
natural for this role. I used my contacts and secured a position for
Marla as a "travel agent in training". On the Jubilee 2003
trip, Marla shared the workload with an experienced travel agent.
Marla did so well that she was allowed to
organize the Mardi Gras trip earlier in 2004 under limited supervision. After
the Mardi Gras 2004,
Marla was now on her own. Marla would still work for the agency, but
she would essentially be a home-based travel agent who
booked her own cruises.
Our Rhapsody 2004 trip was the first cruise where Marla did
all the work without supervision. Given this kind of
responsibility, from the start Marla put all her energy into
making sure this would be our best trip ever. I would
have to say Marla succeeded royally.
Marla quickly noticed
that many people greatly prefer to cruise within
a group. Traveling with friends is a marvelous way to share
experiences. Although it should be duly noted that although the
mischief level varies drastically between the Singles and the Couples,
traveling with a large group such as ours seemed equally attractive to both
beauty of a group cruise is that you can be alone with a
loved one or spend time with the group. Either way is
fine. No one begrudges you your privacy. If you want
to go your separate way, no problem. On the other
hand, if you
feel lonely, it's your own fault! In the SSQQ group, there
is always someone to tag along with.
The problem that people who are single run into is that sometimes
it isn't that easy to find another person who has either the free
time or the extra money on hand to take a lengthy trip.
The nice thing about the SSQQ Cruise Trips is that people
who are single and not involved with anyone at the moment
can join the group and feel right at home.
Furthermore, when you
travel alone or with just one other person, you often get
seated with a bunch of strangers. Not us. Dinner
within the SSQQ group always feels like a family affair.
The question is why
couples enjoy the SSQQ Cruises so much. One couple
said it should be obvious - there are so many couples that
go on these cruises, they always have other couples to hang
A group cruise allows you
have it both ways. When you wish to spend an evening
alone with your partner, just put up the "Do Not Disturb"
sign and go out on that balcony. If you want to be
sociable, go the Shall We Dance Lounge and hang out with
Gary's Late Night crowd. This kind of flexibility
explains the beauty of traveling with a group on a large
Now that Marla was seeing
the inside of the Travel Industry, she realized there are
economic advantages to traveling with a Group as well.
Group fares were
significantly less than the fares a couple would pay
traveling by themselves.
Huge cocktail parties
were just one of the many rewards given to large groups.
Rooms were made available
to the group during the day for dance lessons at no extra
Best of all, free cabin
upgrades were a wonderful side benefit to the group.
Marla learned that as the departure date nears, the cruise
ship has an easier time selling the cheaper cabins than the
expensive ones. Unfortunately, the cheap cabins have
long sold out.
So the cruise ship agent quietly begin to upgrade people
already signed up. Sometimes the upgrades are given to
the first people who signed up. Just as often they are
given to the people in the large groups.
One day Marla's
"Specialist" called her up. He said he had been told
to upgrade twenty cabins. He decided to reward Marla's
group because she had been so easy to deal with.
Fifteen minutes later, 40 people in our group had moved up
one or two decks! This continued for several
weeks. In the end, 90 of 120 passengers had gotten
their cabins upgraded for free. There are definite
advantages to booking a cruise through a group.
Although Marla has no
control over upgrades, she has received them for every
trip she has ever booked. One word of caution -
anyone in our group who ASKS Marla about upgrades
automatically becomes the last person in line to get