Royal Caribbean Launches Travel Agent Month

Royal Caribbean declared April as Travel Agent Appreciation Month
to recognize the commitment and enthusiasm our travel partners take in helping us promote our brand," said Lisa Bauer, senior vice president of sales, for Royal Caribbean International.

"However, we didn't feel that one month was enough time to show our gratitude and therefore have decided that April will merely kick off year-round promotions and incentives communicating our appreciation for our agents each and every day of the year."

The line will use the tagline "Royal Caribbean recommends using a travel agent" in its newspaper and web advertising and in all collateral. The cruise line is even hanging a giant banner on the building of its office headquarters in Miami.

In April, the company's sales reps will promote Caribbean cruises and will give agents gifts such as buttons, posters and a three-ring binder for organizing Royal Caribbean communications. Also, agents who book certain fall cruises between April 1 and April 30 will be eligible to win prizes, with more contest entries per booking.

The sailings must be a new FIT or group booking with full deposits on any Royal Caribbean ship between Aug. 1 and Dec. 31. Prizes include four "Ultimate Bedroom Makeovers" by a professional interior design team using the cruise line's new bedding including a duvet cover, sheets, shams and decorative pillows.

Other prizes include bedding sets, sporting apparel or equipment, T-shirts, hats and more. Royal Caribbean also will award up to 20 $100 American Express Gift Cheques for any travel partner booking through any automation, not the line's own CruiseMatch. For more information, call 800-327-6700 or visit www.royalcaribbean.com.

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Travel Guard offers incentives for home based travel agents

Travel Guard International is offering home based travel agents a special bonus incentive for first-time bookings via the company’s ezTIPS software.

Home based travel agents that book Travel Guard products electronically will now earn an additional 5% bonus commission for the first three months after signing up via the ezTIPS software.

Travel Guard said the software reduces the time it normally takes to book a travel insurance policy from an average of 12 minutes down to two minutes and has built-in tools that remind travel agents to ask their customers about travel insurance with each travel booking.

The travel insurance provider also established a dedicated help desk, at (800) 826-8594, specifically for home based travel agents. In addition, Travel Guard created a sweepstakes for home based travel agents, at www.travelguard.com/homeagentsweeps.asp, whereby agents can enter to win a $2,000 shopping spree to Sam’s Club for a home office makeover through Travel Guard’s Home Agent Sweepstakes.

“Travel Guard understands the value and dedication home based travel agents provide traveling consumers, and we are happy to show our appreciation for our home agent partners not only through our commission bonus and sweepstakes offers, but also by making it easy for home agents to sell Travel Guard,” said Tom Zavadsky, Travel Guard’s executive vice president in a statement.

FT or PT home based travel agents wanted earn extra $$$ and get great travel perks.
www.homebased-travelagents.com

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Escort a cruise, mature travelers will come

If you escort a cruise, mature travelers will come, according to Jerry Davis, Orange, N.J. "
A lot of mature customers feel more comfortable when we escort a cruise. We get lots of repeat business on our escorted cruises." Davis escorts three or four cruises a year, and several other staff members who have been trained by him also escort the trips, so repeaters get to know the escorts well.

"Travel can be stressful for seniors, but if they know that we have someone going with the group who will help them, they are more likely to take the cruise." To inform past, as well as prospective passengers about escorted cruises with the agency, Davis does several direct-mail pieces annually, carefully targeted to the destination and activity interests of the recipients. "As long as I send quality items to these people, I get good response," he said.

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Affinity groups help home based agents make sales

Affinity group cruise sales have helped Alison Boyer, in Ventura, Calif.,
dramatically increase her business. "Affinity groups are key because they already know each other and are communicating through a newsletter or regular meetings. You're much more likely to sell out a block to an affinity group than to try and fill a sailing with individuals."

Boyer works directly with leaders of senior groups. She offers the leader an inclusive package, including the cruise, the airfare and port charges. "Otherwise, they might take their business direct to the cruise line, but I give them a better deal. Many of them are working for nothing, and this package is a big incentive."

Once Boyer and the leader select a sailing to promote to the group, she make a cruise presentation, usually arranging to have a representative from the cruise line also on hand. "Sometimes I bring lecor, but usually these are not elaborate presentations. We concentrate on the cruise, with a video and a presentation by me. I also offer a sign-up bonus, maybe a cabin upgrade or on-board credit, to those who sign up at that event."

Although some cruise lines will offer groups a one-category upgrade, Boyer will add a second upgrade herself, or some other value-added feature. Even small groups will be guaranteed a cocktail party, for instance. "Some groups want to make the cruise a fundraising event, too, and that draws new people who might not have traveled with the group before," she added.

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Stay in touch is the best way home based travel agents can do to get bookings

Richard Smith, in Bloomfield Hills, Mich., "Over 85 percent of my customers are over 50, and they love cruises, because they have the income, the time and the interest in new destinations.

His advice to agents interested in direct marketing: get database software and be constant about adding names and building communication by mail with your customers and prospects.

"Your sales relationship doesn't have to be face-to-face. You can send them postcards and cruise flyers, and they can send you money. You have to build up a relationship by offering them the right products and by staying in touch. If you do that, they'll stay in touch with you, and you'll get the bookings."

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Consolidator Shopper makes it easey for home based travel agents to sell air tickets and make a profit

The AgentNet Consolidator Shopper Service is a powerful supplementary tool that facilities transactions between home based travel agents and consolidators. With access to millions of consolidator fares from the top consolidators in the US and Canada, consolidator Shopper enables home based travel agents the ability to sell consolidator tickets more effectively.

The Consolidator Shopper tool is extremely valuable as home based travel agents can avoid long hold times. Consolidator Shopper also allows businesses to grow more rapidly through its cost-saving features. In one simple step, you can mark-up fares to best suit your needs.

Consolidator Shopper provides multiple consolidator fare comparisons along with real-time confirmed bookings, which means more options for your customer and less phone time for agents. Powerful search and tracking features combined with the most complete content result in an unparalleled tool that increases your revenues.

Easy to use: Booking consolidator fare has never been easier with this one-stop air shopping tool that brings inventory from the industry's leading consolidators into a single, integrated, online platform.

5 REASONS TO LOVE AGENTNET CONSOLIDATED SHOPPER:

1. Ability to check and view availability status of multiple consolidator's fares as well as published fares, creating a one-stop shopping and comparison source.

2. Flexible Dates feature with seven-day search function, allowing agents to quickly shop for the lowest consolidator fare on alternate dates if the requested date is not available.

3. Invoice printing for your clients from within Consolidator Shopper reflecting your markups.

4. Availability Status Display that indicates, from the fare display screen, if a consolidator fare is available or unavailable for the selected dates, eliminating the need to check availability for a specific fare.

5. Display of fares in either US or Canadian currency based on the fare amount in the currency chosen by the user and ot the fare amount in the currency that must be remitted to the consolidator.

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Cancun Specialist program for Home based Travel Agents

Cancun is emerging from Hurricane Wilma to regain its ranking as Mexico's number one vacation destination. Each day, an ambitious restoration and enhancement effort is unfolding along Cancun's 30 kilometers of sun-kissed shore.
BETTER Beaches .....BETTER Resorts ......BETTER Amenities

Home based Travel Agent are urged to see the New Cancun for yourself by becoming an "Official Cancun Counselor."

You can become a home based travel agent and earn FREE cruises, trips and $$$.
www.HomeBasedTravelAgents.org

Graduate benefits include:
A Five Day FAM "Field Inspection Trip" to Cancun
Cancun Loyalty Points every time you sell a Cancun vacation
CTIC/Travel Institute credits
Consumer leads
Sign-up Today and be ready to sell a BETTER Cancun
http://www.cti.coursehost.com/Groups/Config/Home10.asp?LID=1

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Luxury Travel Expo 2006 for Home Based Travel Agents

December 5-7 50 educational sessions specializing in areas of luxury travel, including:
Marketing & Sales, Golf, Spa, Cruise, Tours, Exotic Destinations, Luxury Hotels & Resorts, Ski, Wedding and Honeymoons. Click here to register for Luxury Travel Expo today. The early bird rate is $29. To register by phone, please call 1-888-480-3077. To become a home based travel agent go to www.homebased-travelagents.com

Held at Mandalay Bay Resort and Casino in Las Vegas, is the only travel event entirely dedicated to providing suppliers and Home based travel agents a forum for dialogue and education concerning all things luxury. Now in its seventh year, Luxury Travel Expo continues to be the most influential luxury event in North America, instructing home based travel agents on how to effectively promote and sell the luxury market.

Year-after-year, Luxury Travel Expo has provided an exclusive and collaborative venue where home based travel agents and suppliers— such as Virtuoso, American Express, Ritz-Carlton, and Cunard/Princess Cruise Lines—can unite to conduct transactions directly on the exhibit hall floor.

Market research has indicated 91% of attendees would recommend Luxury Travel Expo to their colleagues and business associates, making it a one-of-a-kind value that shouldn’t be missed!

BOOKING INFORMATION FOR TRAVEL AGENTSTo book your hotel room at the discounted rate of $109 at Mandalay Bay Resort & Casino, please contact our housing bureau* at 1-866-364-9512 and quote 'Group Code SLTEB06, Luxury Travel Expo Travel Agent Block'. Please note, you will need your IATA or CLIA number in order to receive the discounted rate. If you are calling from outside the United States, please call 310-590-4733. The housing bureau is happy to make air accommodations as well. Alternatively, you may click here to book your room online.

Mandalay Bay— where excitement begins on the Las Vegas strip. Mandalay Bay includes elegantly equip rooms and suites, a lavish 11-acre tropical sand beach, lazy river, crystal blue pools, and a spa offering assorted massage styles by top masseuses. Mandalay Bay is the fifth largest convention facility in the United States; and boasts the largest pillarless hotel ballroom in the nation, a 100,000 square-foot ‘mega ballroom’! After a long day of making contacts, take a swing with some of your new partners on one of six of the hotel’s challenging golf courses. Luxury Travel Expo is the standard by which all other travel events are measured!

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Faith-based travel surges as religious sites attract followers

Home based travel agents are benefiting from an apparent boom in religious and spiritually focused travel. Consider these numbers:

According to the U.S. Office of Travel & Tourism Industries, the more than 600,000 overseas, faith-based trips taken by Americans in 2004 accounted for 2.2% of all U.S. overseas travel.
American Church Lists, a market research company, calculates that church travel programs increased 20% between 2000 and 2004.

Premier Tourism Marketing recently reported that of the 400,000 religious establishments in the U.S., 50,000 now offer travel programs.

The 2004 Religious Conference Management Association reported that religious meetings and conventions in 2004 increased 8.4% over 2003, with 14.2 million attendees, 16,214 meetings and 3,797 conventions and conferences.

Globus, one of the world’s oldest and largest group tour operators, faith-based travel has been something of a recent epiphany. The company entered the market with eight programs in the 2004-2005 season. In its second year, it more than doubled its religious offerings, to 20 programs in 20 countries.

Globus also offers agents marketing kits that Schields terms “religious travel in a box” -- training programs and turn-key business plans that help agents set performance objectives and find and approach prospects. They even include templates for letters to priests, pastors or rabbis. To become a home based travel agent go to www.homebasedtravelagents.org

Destinations are important to different denominations, such as western England for Methodists, Scotland for Presbyterians, Germany for Lutherans.

“There is a certain terminology that is appropriate for each group,” said Wright. “We provide a list of lingo and buzzwords, so when a travel agent is out there marketing, they know what words to use. When we talk to the Catholic market, we use the word ‘community.’ With Protestants, we say ‘fellowship.’ “

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Home based Travel Agents sell Greek Island Cruises

A 40-year-old company called Vikings Yacht Cruises offers Greek Island cruises on a small ship. This is a great selling opportunity for home based travel agents to offer there clients a unique Greek Cruise. To become a home based travel agent go to www.homebased-travelagents.com

The seven-day "Discovery Cruise" to Mykonos, Santorini and the Cyclades departs every Friday May through October priced from $1,395 per person. The cruise is informal with no dress code. The average cruising time is four to five hours a day. The rest of the day and night is spent in the islands for exploring, excursions, shopping, beaches, taverns, swimming, relaxation and night life.

The 14-Day "Magnificent Greece" package, which includes a seven-day yacht cruise, a four-day coach tour to the classical sites, and a three-night stay in Athens, is priced from $ 2,495 per person. For more information, call 800-341-3030 or visit www.vikings.gr.

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Selling the Big Apple for Home Based Travel Agents

The continued growth of New York City as a destination for leisure travel offers profit-generating sales opportunities for travel agents, including Home Based travel agents, according to Joel Cohen, VP of NYC Vacation Packages (NYCVP)

"For growth minded travel agents the popularity of New York City as a destination represents opportunity," said Cohen. He reports a 25%-30% growth in sales in 2005 - a record for NYCVP - and a 59.4% increase in travel agent sales in 2005 over 2003. The company anticipates record sales for NYCVP in 2006.

"NYC is a year-round destination with world-class attractions - including Broadway. It's fully recovered from 9/11 and is rated as one of the safest cities in the US" said Cohen.

NYCVP's decades of expertise, he added, can help home based travel agents deliver the New York experience their clients want, when they want it - including hotel accommodations (3-star and up) at peak periods, restaurant reservations, Broadway shows, sports events and more.

NYCVP has extensive block space in leading hotels and also theatre, dining and sightseeing options. Cohen noted, adding that group travel opportunities abound in New York. NYCVP has a dedicated team to help agents put together successful groups to New York.

The company this year plans to upgrade its Web site at http://www.nycvp.com/ with more resources for home based travel agents in the agents-only section of the site. Agents can book online, download brochures and obtain detailed information on all programs, including maps. To become a home based travel agent go to www.homebased-travelagents.com

Also, NYCVP plans to come out with its own sightseeing tours that are designed with visitors' interests in mind, according to Cohen.

NYCVP will continue its holiday-related programs, including Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade and New Year's Eve, and packages to other major events. Sports and cultural event are also major attractions.

In addition to unique itineraries for family and group travel - one NYCVP program according to Cohen, is the only tour that gets visitors inside the State of Liberty - New York City Vacations programs can be tailored to all interests and budgets, including luxury programs.

All programs are fully commissionable. "We invite home based travel agents to contact us for more information and brochures - and we remain pledged to working professionally with travel agents."

New York City Vacation Packages is a member of the NACTA, ASTA, NTA, as well as NYC & Company. Home Based Travel Agents can contact New York City Vacation Packages, , by phone at 877 NYC-TRIP or 877-692-8747 and 570-714-4692, E-mail info@nycvp.com

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Advice for Selling Group Cruises for Home Based Travel Agents

Top Cruise Sellers Give their Best Advice for Selling Group Cruises to Home Based Travel Agents

Group cruise sales can become a lucrative business for home based travel agents, but you have to do your homework. That means you need to relate both to the potential group and the particular cruise line, and carefully formulate your budget and pricing model. What are the best ways to sell cruise groups? We asked top agents and cuisse executives for their advice to home based travel agents on the best practices for successful group sales.

Lee Welling, Director of group Marketing, Liberty Travel
Be sure to be knowledgeable of, and keep current with, group booking policies for each cruise line. Find out how long you can hold onto your group allotment before confirmation and payments are due. Are deposits required? Is there a limit to the number of groups you can book with a given time period?

Michelle Fee, CTC,
Do a "needs assessment" on your group lead. It's important to make sure you are matching the group and cruise product appropriately. Be aware that they may not always know what to ask for. They will depend on you as their "group specialist" to know what facilities are available on the various ships and which of these facilities will particularly appeal to them. For example, if it's a group of web programmers, make sure it's a ship with a good Internet connection.
Leverage your existing client base. Ask these clients if they have family reunions or corporate events and ask. "How about doing those on a cruise?"

Prospect for groups. Identify affinity group types in your area via networking and research. Look at clubs an associations, religious groups, ethnic groups, businesses. Consider the cruise products that would appeal to them, and then start working on your pitch.
Organize an event and invite local group leaders to attend.

Advertise in local newspapers or newsletters (PTA, church flyer, garden club, condo association, etc). Sell yourself. It's important to communicate effectively the benefits of working with you.
Get vendor sponsorship on promotions for your groups (co-op cruise events/presentations, ship inspections/luncheons, etc). Customize your groups to make them "value added" and sell the experience. Include a shore excursion, alternative dining experience, and maybe arrange a personalized cooking class in a specific port of call.

Caroline Hay, Product Manager, Thomas Cook
Don't be afraid of group sales. The biggest pitfall in beginning to sell group cruise bookings is fear. It can be overwhelming. There's a big tendency to say, "Oh my gosh, I can't do this." But it can be the same amount of work to book three people at 30.

Establish pricing and stick to it. Avoid giving away the house and going off plan. Figure in all marketing and incentive costs and make sure you're making a profit. Group sales can be very profitable, but you have to keep an eye on the revenue.

Develop an effective marketing strategy. If you don't market it, it won't sell.
Take advantage of the group training and assistance available from major cruise lines. They can help you with amenity points an the category of accommodations to select. Take advantage of CLIA group sales training. http://www.homebased-travelagents.com/training.htm

Give yourself enough time for the planning and the sales. For large groups (average size between 30 and 40 cabins), plan six to eight months in advance. Common-interest groups are much easier to close and the best option for a single branch. Speculative groups are best booked as a block that several branches can access.

Develop a theme for your cruise that sets you apart (jazz, dance, film festival, food and wine, 911 cruise for police and firemen). Establish a link with a local celebrity--a DJ or weatherman, perhaps with a charity link.

Rick Meadows, Vice President of Marketing and Sales, Holland America Line
Let potential group leaders know what types of extras you can provide. Holland America's Group Advantage Program allows agents to offer extra amenities such as dinner at the Pinnacle Grill specialty restaurant, massages at The Greenhouse Spa, monogrammed bathrobes, wine packages, cocktail parties, and free tour-conductor credits.

Target affinities such as culinary groups. Holland America's program fur culinary groups allows agents to book Culinary Arts Centers on its ships for two one-hour sessions.
Capitalize on an interest in food and wine by partnering with a chef or owner of a restaurant, a winemaker or manager of a wine store. Send promotional flyers to their mailing lists as well as your own

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Big Profits for Home Based Travel Agents

Selling luxury cruises can be highly profitable for home based travel agents.
In fact, if practices intelligently and diligently, luxury cruises can be the most important product in a home based travel agent's portfolio. Two words leap out as the most important concepts to remember when selling luxury cruises: satisfaction and value. The first concept leads directly to the second. If clients are satisfied with the product you have sold them, if you meet, or better yet, exceed their expectations, then you will have created a good value for them.

It has been widely researched and reported that cruising has the highest rate of satisfaction of any travel product. And luxury cruises lead in all the surveys. Cruising is considered an outstanding value by travelers who have tried it (they keep coming back) and luxury cruising is deemed an even better value. The goal for home based travel agents is to use these twin concepts to sell luxury cruising.

Here are some facts that will make it easier for you to sell luxury cruises:

FACT #1:
Studies have shown that the total cost for a luxury cruise is less than the total cost for a vacation in a luxury, shore-side resort. This leads to the second fact: the value equation.

FACT #2:
The cost of most luxury cruising is all-inclusive or mostly so. All meals are included (even room service offerings) and wines are usually served on a complimentary basis at luncheon and dinner. Most luxury cruise lines feature an open bar policy, and gratuities are usually included in the price. When was the last time you or your client got a free drink at a shore-side resort? And when was last time you or your client didn't have to begin calculating tips well in advance of the end of the vacation?

FACT #3:
Luxury cruising has a high staff-to-guest ratio. On the smaller luxury passenger vessels, the staff-per-guest ratio is almost one to one.

FACT #4:
Let's refer to this fact as Service, Service, Service with a capital "S" That's what you get with luxury cruise lines. All studies show that top service ranks very high on what travelers expect on their holidays. Consider this: If travelers fly to their destination in a brand new jet but the in-flight service is lousy, that flight is a failure. But regardless if whether the jet is brand new, if the service is notable, then the flight is deemed a success.

FACT #5:
On luxury cruises, gourmet dining is the standard. On small, luxury vessels, the food is usually prepared a la carte and to an individual order. It's difficult to equate this with shore-side travel experiences in most urban hotels or resorts.

FACT #6:
Guests aboard luxury cruises take their staterooms with them. Their entire floating hotel moves from one fascinating destination to another. Obviously, that does not occur if you move about on land. And that leads to..

FACT #7:
Usually when travelers move from destination to destination by jet, train, or tour bus, they unpack and repack constantly. On a luxury cruise line, they unpack once and repack at end of the voyage. Which would you rather do?

FACT #8: On luxury cruises, there is considerable interaction with staff. They get to know the guests and learn their habits, their likes and dislikes. The staff even know their name and addresses them personally after only a few hours aboard.

FACT #9:
On luxury cruises, there is more interaction among guests than there usually is when vacations are taken on land. These new friends add stimulation to the voyage and frequently last far beyond the duration of the cruise-sometimes they last for a lifetime.

FACT #10:
There is one aspect of the luxury cruise vacation that no shore-side holiday can ever approximate. That is the romance of the sea. The experience is stimulating and at the same time relaxing, and it leads to a feeling of well-being.

Home Based Travel agents should keep these 10 facts foremost in their minds when focusing on selling luxury cruises, because they lead to satisfaction and value. And that's what selling travel is all about. To become a Home Based Travel Agent go to www.homebased-travelagents.com

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Free Caribbean Wedding or $500 off your Honeymoon

Elite Island Resorts knows the true meaning of romance: Relaxing together in a private pool villa - like at Windjammer Landing in St. Lucia; Walks along an endless white sand beach - like at Long Bay Beach Resort in Tortola; And cocktails at sunset - like at Palm Island in the Grenadines. Home based agents are urged to contack there honeymoon clients NOW.

Eight beachfront resorts boast all the ingredients for a blissful Caribbean honeymoon, whether youre looking for a tranquil hideaway where you can be alone together or an all-inclusive playground with plenty of activities. Just to make the idea even more irresistible, if you book 7 all-inclusive nights in our best room category before December 20, 2006, well treat you to a free wedding ceremony or $500 off your all-inclusive honeymoon package. Now how romantic is that!

Free wedding package includes:
Services of a wedding co-ordinator
Government fees, registrar costs and ceremony charges
Venue - Site on property decorated with fresh tropical flowers for wedding and reception
Bouquet of local garden flowers for the bride
Boutonniere for the groom
Two-tier wedding cake
Bottle of champagne
All taxes and gratuities $500 Off Honeymoon includes:
Champagne
Fresh tropical flowers *Grand Pineapple Beach now offers wedding cam for friends and family to watch from home!
Restrictions: Only applys to US customers. Must be booked by December 20, 2006. Free wedding does not apply to Windjammer Landing Villa Beach Resort.
Become a home based honeymoon travel agent www.homebased-travelagents.com

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Crystal to Operate Fall Cruises from New York

Crystal Cruises is offering more fall foliage cruises roundtrip from New York.
In September and October, the Crystal Symphony will operate five itineraries in that region, including a new 11-day and two new seven-day roundtrips from New York, as well as two 11-day itineraries between New York and Montreal.

The season begins with two new week-long itineraries departing from New York on Sept. 14 and Sept. 21. Included are visits to Newport, R.I.; Boston (an overnight); Bar Harbor, Maine; and Halifax, Nova Scotia. The new 11-day cruise departs New York on Oct. 20 and features a call at Québec City and scenic cruising of the Saguenay River. New England Chef Christian Thornton of Atria in Martha's Vineyard will be onboard as part of Crystal's Wine & Food Festival at Sea.

Also offered are two 11-day cruises into the heart of French Québec, each showcasing a maiden port of call for Crystal. From New York on Sept. 28, the Crystal Symphony will make a maiden call at the Canadian port of La Baie des Ha! Ha!, as well as visit Halifax, Bar Harbor, Boston and Newport, Québec City and Montréal (an overnight).

The Oct. 9 departure from Montréal features the same itinerary with a maiden call at St. John, New Brunswick, in place of Le Baie des Ha! Ha! Cruise fares for the New England and Canada cruises begin at $2,140 per person, double occupancy. For more information, call 888-799-4625 or visit http://www.crystalcruises.com/
Home Based Travel Agents can earn great commissions. Become a PT travel agent now..
www.homebased-travelagents.com

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