There is a new command team at Cruise Port Travel. Kelly and Carol Watts have just purchased the company from Ralph Schessler.
Schessler is staying on with the Watts for a while, teaching them the ropes.
"We like cruising and had booked with Ralph. Then we learned he mentioned he wanted to retire, so we decided to take over the business," Kelly said.
Rim Country residents know Kelly for his work in radio. He is phasing out of that to be a travel man full time. Carol has been the secretary for Payson Regional Medical Center's Home Health Service, but will soon be leaving that position.
Kelly and Carol have been in the area about four years, moving here from Pennsylvania. They had a traffic and architectural signage, communication and safety equipment business.
Visiting friends in Arizona, they learned about Payson and decided to make the move because they were sick of Pennsylvania winters.
"I came up in April 2003 to check it out and Carol stayed home, shoveling snow," Kelly said.
Cruise Port Travel will continue to specialize in cruise vacations and tour arrangements for clients.
"We don't sponsor specialized cruises or tours, but we can put them together for people," Kelly said.
While Kelly and Carol have been on two cruises in the past, they were just enjoying themselves, not studying the ins and outs of the ship and its services to sell trips to others. They have booked themselves on two additional cruises in the near future to get a crash course on all the things they need to know to sell them. One is strictly for training and will take them to Ensenada, Mexico; the other is for pleasure -- to Hawaii -- but they will still be in study mode.
Their favorite cruise line is Celebrity and their favorite Celebrity ship is the "Summit." Both cruises they have taken have been on the ship.
"It's a class act all the way. It's the only way to travel," Kelly said.
Cruise Port Travel has access to all the cruise lines, from the traditional big ships to the more intimate clippers. The land tours offered are by some of the most well-known names in the business, such as, Apple, Globus and Qantas.
While it is really too late to arrange an end-of-season Alaska cruise -- they are all nearly full -- it is a good time to organize a late fall, holiday, winter or spring cruise.
"Make a reservation as soon as you decide you want to do it and send in your deposit," recommends veteran cruise agent Schessler.
He said the deposits are not a big investment -- only about $250 per person -- and if a client cancels 70 or more days before departure, most cruise lines will give them a full refund.
An early reservation guarantees the availability of the kind of cabin a client wants.
Kelly and Carol are planning an open house for the business in November, but they encourage everyone to visit any time, even if it is just to say hello and pick up a brochure or two for dreaming.
"We are very excited about the business and grateful to Ralph for all his help," Carol said.