Anita E. Berry, who started The Jazz Cruise, LLC, many years ago is a travel agent who is an inspiration to all who meet her. She truly created the concept of full ship charters.
TRO: Anita, you’re known as the Godmother of All Theme Cruises. You have booked 25 full ship charters with Holland America.
AB: Yes, no one was doing them when I started booking cabins, quite a few years ago using NCL’s NORWAY. We built it up growing to 300 cabins.
TRO: You then made a life changing decision.
AB: Yes, at the age of 70, I told my sons that I wanted to charter ships for our Jazz Cruises. We joke that my sons were worried about their inheritance, so they joined with me and we signed the contract for Holland America full ship charters. We are now celebrating our 10th year of full ship charters! A record!
TRO: Now your son, Michael Lazaroff, is in charge.
AB: He does a wonderful job, but I am there as well.
TRO: Being a travel agent, you understand our needs and demands.
AB: I certainly do. I am proud of the fact that we are the only full ship charters devoted to Jazz, both Big Band or Straight Ahead and also Smooth Jazz. Also, we are probably the only full ship charter that pays commissions to agents on the full amount of the cruise. That includes all the shows and all the entertainment, concerts, and even more.
TRO: Also, you’ve very innovative, some of the cruise lines should take notes on what you do.
AB: You mean about our group policy? Agents can block off space and combine the sales on 3 different cruises to earn a TC. Also we have a payment plan. A lower deposit, periodic payments and agents are finding new clients using this plan. Over 65% of the passengers rebook, and even if done onboard, the agent can get the commission.
TRO: Tell me about your Jazz Specialist program
AB: We’re looking for the 100 agents who want to make big commissions selling the Jazz Cruise. We give the agents leads in their area, and up to 100% co-op, and tons of support. Great collateral, very agent friendly, and in depth training. They will know the difference between our Straight Ahead or Big Band cruises and our Smooth Jazz cruises.
TRO: It’s amazing to see the lineup of stars who perform. I’ve read their bios on your website.
AB: We are very lucky. Many of the performers ask to come back, they have as good a time as the passengers. Some want to come in order to work with musicians they admire. We even ask the clients who they want to see, that’s why we now
have Smokey Robinson and Brian McKnight already booked, along with Grammy and even Academy Award winners.
TRO: Speaking of good times, you really spoil everyone onboard.
AB: The cocktail parties, and theme events, the pillow gifts, the Meet and Greets and autograph sessions. No where else will there be entertainment from 9am to 3am than on the Jazz Cruise. Michael upgrades the menus and the wine lists too. Make sure you see the jam sessions where the passengers can perform with the stars! When we take over a Holland America ship, Michael runs everything but the spa, shops, and the casino. He finds areas for performing that the cruise line doesn’t even know about. It truly is like a family reunion- people returning again and again. In many cases the performers even know their fans.
TRO: Anita, you wear me out, just talking to you. AB: When you do what you love, you just don’t get worn out…even at my age…80!