The Cruise Shop/Viking Travel — New beginnings | Travel Research Online


The Cruise Shop/Viking Travel — New beginnings

It’s so hard to believe that my stint here as a “diarist” for TRO has come to an end!  It boggles my mind to think it’s been a year since I was first presented with the opportunity to be a contributor. It has truly been an honor to share my insight and experiences with you as a career, front-line Cruise Specialist in a traditional “brick and mortar” travel agency.  I’ve learned that – regardless of where our respective office may be located – it’s clear that we all still face many of the same issues, challenges, and – the biggest common-denominator of all – our passion for our vocation.   

That being said, I’ve been on a mission the last few years to focus on my specialty. I’m always striving to be the best cruise consultant I can possibly be.  Happily, 2011 was the year I finally accomplished a longtime goal–I earned the Elite Cruise Counsellor designation from CLIA.  I’m one of the few in my area to have achieved this status, and the first within my company to do so.  While it may not be a bona-fide “degree” in its most literal sense, I think it speaks to my work ethic, to my thirst for knowledge, and my dedication.  Most importantly, though, I believe it shows that I care:  about my clients, about my company, and about my career – which I take very seriously.  I am hopeful that ultimately, all these qualities will not be lost at the hands of Internet “shoppers” and travel  “do it yourselfers.”  At least, not in the long run.

2011 was also a transitional year for me. I was called upon to leave my “safe harbor” of selling only cruises, and adding more leisure products to the mix.  The move for me was initially bittersweet–feeling as if I was betraying my first love, when in reality, I was merely adding more spice to the relationship!  Becoming more diversified has not only been good for my clients (who often felt they were cheating on me when working with another agent on their land based vacations), but also good for me as well.  Any trepidation I initially felt was quickly replaced with enthusiasm and exhilaration! And I’ve gained an even bigger appreciation for every new cruise booking I make; absence really does make the heart grow fonder…and it’s always like coming home.

Reflecting on this past year – and the new one just around the corner – I recalled a recent local event to which I had the great fortune to receive an invitation. Rodolfo Lopez-Negrete, Chief Operating Officer of the Mexico Tourism Board, was the keynote speaker.  Near the end of his presentation, Mr. Lopez-Negrete previewed of several commercials scheduled to air, highlighting the many wonders of Mexico.   My favorite was one featuring their “Mundo Maya 2012” campaign – a program to increase tourism and promote the Mayan cultural legacy, marking the end of the Mayan calendar – and as some would believe, the end of the world.

Mr. Lopez-Negrete was quick to point out, the Mayans were very optimistic people, as are their descendants.  For the record, he said, 2012 does not mark the end of the world, but rather, the world, as we know it.  It’s not about endings at all; it’s all about a brand-new beginning.

Just as 2011 marked a new beginning for me, 2012 will mark a new beginning as well.  Who knows where this new path called 2012 will lead? I am not sure, but I  can’t wait to find out!  Thank you so much for allowing me to share my journey with you, and for your many positive comments along the way.  Here’s hoping that everyone’s road to even bigger and brighter success will be a smooth one, and that any detours you encounter will be pleasant ones, as well!

Linda Furlan is a career Travel Consultant with over 30 years experience as a front-line, brick-and-mortar agent.  She is an ECC Cruise Specialist employed by Ensemble-affiliated Viking Travel Service/The Cruise Shop (  in Naperville, IL – celebrating their 40th Year in business in 2011.  From Corporate to Groups to Leisure to middle-management, she’s seen and done it all – but becoming a niche specialist in her favorite genre – Cruising – has been the most fulfilling.  Linda also recently combined her passions for travel, writing, and photography by starting her own Travel Blog .  She can be reached at or by phone at (630) 357-7447.


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