Sailing Towards Success
An epic trip two years in the making, Cruise Planners’ Elite Summit finally made its way along the Danube River aboard the magnificent AmaMagna for a scenic and productive tour of Eastern Europe. Originally scheduled for March 2020, the bi-annual event had a spate of delays due to the Covid-19 pandemic and travel restrictions. Cruise Planners hosts the event as a celebration of the achievements of their top producers – of which there were no shortage. Over 170 travel advisors from all over the U.S. convened on the Danube to network, learn and revel in the fruits of their labor.
This is the first time Cruise Planners has had a full ship charter and the trip, which began on March 13th, set sail from Vilshofen, Germany. Over the span of eight days, they made stops in Passau, Linz & Grein, Melk & Spitz, Vienna, and Bratislava before wrapping up in Budapest. Along with executive presentations and one-on-one meetings with suppliers, these top producers got a chance to network and immerse themselves in the culture of these historic, top destinations. Guests on board also had a chance to relax and unwind with access to a massage and hair salon, a fitness room, a swimming pool and whirlpool.
“It was definitely worth the wait,” said Michelle Fee, CEO and Founder of Cruise Planners. “These agents are the equivalent of travel advisor royalty. They are successful self-starters and experts in their fields and this summit is a chance to celebrate their achievements in an undeniably difficult year. They have led by example to show that it’s possible to turn lemons into lemonade—topped with a splash of sparkling champagne.”
Cruise Planners hosts two Elite Summits each year, with the second one slated for May 1-5 at the Sandals Royal Bahamian in Nassau. In addition, there will be a series of four, in-person Boot Camp events including around the country with locations in Las Vegas, Connecticut, Dallas and Orlando. To culminate, Cruise Planners annual convention will take place in Miami and complete on the Norwegian Prima as it makes its inaugural sailing.
“The Elite Summit is always one of the most amazing experiences of the year,” said Joel Wilder, who has been on nine top producer trips. The former nurse turned travel rockstar counts the Summit as a critical tool to his success. “It’s always so uplifting and inspiring to exchange ideas, visit with CP and cruise line executives, see old friends-- all while seeing the world! I have sailed on most European rivers onboard Viking, Uniworld and Avalon and now AmaWaterways, which certainly did not disappoint. The AmaMagna is an amazing ship and I’m planning on putting a group cruise together to sail on her.”
The well-deserved and long-awaited journey also including excursions in each of the unique destinations. Memorable experiences included a Hungarian goulash making class, a castle tour complete with wine tasting, biking along the Passau River biking tour and a Czech Beer tour, just to name a few.
“This year feels extra special because 1) the ship was chartered for just Cruise Planners 2) because it feels like we are back on track after the two past difficult years,” said Mellanie Ingle, who is based in Huntington Beach, CA. “I love that all of us have a bond that encourages sharing information, helping each other when we can, and looking forward to our time together each year. We all understand what it takes to achieve this level of sales, and support each other.”
AmaWaterways co-owner Kristin Karst also hosted a special surprise dinner for its top producers and Cruise Planners Executives that included an intimate dinner with Count Carl Philip Clam in Austria.
“They truly earned this,” said Fee. “You can’t ask for a better setting, for a more dedicated and talented group of travel advisors to recharge, innovate and immerse themselves into the world of travel before they get out there and keep doing what they do best. It’s only going to go up from here.”