Last fall, we did a quilters’ cruise to Mexico from San Diego. It was convenient for quilters to drive to San Diego with their sewing machines, which they then carried on the ship. We had two days of classes on the sea days, leaving the days in port free for excursions, shopping, even parasailing! We had 16 cabins with quilters from Pine and Strawberry, Payson, Gisela and Phoenix. Even some husbands went along for the fun. One gentleman’s comment when he first laid eyes on the buffet was, “I thought I’d died and gone to heaven.”
Next September, we will do another quilters’ cruise to Alaska, but this time it won’t be necessary to bring a sewing machine along. Naturally, Alaska means flying, and we thought it would be easier to do so without a sewing machine as a carry-on item. Again, we will have classes on the sea days, so no ports of call will be missed. Three classes are being offered, with all sewing to be done by hand.
The first teacher, Kathy McCleary, is the winner of the Arizona Quilters Hall of Fame Award in 2008. She will be teaching a class on hand-piecing, hand-quilting, Cathedral Window piecing and blind stitch bindings.
Patty McKinney, also a 2008 Arizona Quilters Hall of Fame award winner, has spent more than 30 years in Alaska before moving to Arizona. She will be teaching a class in pre-prepared appliqué, better known as “turn and burn.” She is adept in a variety of appliqué techniques.
Leslie Peacock is our last teacher. She has won many awards for her stunning jackets and vests. Her motto is “I’m wearing my quilt.” She will teach a class on construction of a wearable scrappy jacket. The jacket will be laid out on the cruise, directions for finishing will be provided, and the final sewing can be done either by hand or upon return home on your sewing machine.
The cruise will be on Holland America’s Oosterdam from Sept. 12 through Sept. 19, 2010. It is a round-trip Seattle sailing, which will go to Glacier Bay National Park, Juneau, Sitka, Ketchikan and Victoria, BC. Several categories of cabins are reserved, but deposits must be received by April 1, 2010. Early registration will ensure getting the best cabin in the category you desire, whether it’s interior, ocean-view or balcony. Classes are $50 each. Cruise prices and all information can be found from Carol at Cruise Port Travel, (928) 472-7878 or (877) 949-7678.
The customer from hell
Normally, I love the travel business. It’s great to be a part of helping someone realize their dreams and desires. As professional agents, we are certified with an industry association that requires continued education about destinations, new ships, tour companies, etc.
I love learning about foreign places, but my favorites are Alaska and Hawaii. So far, we have resisted the policy of charging a “consulting fee” for our services, which is then applied toward payment when a vacation is booked. This is standard policy in many agencies in large cities. Try going to any other professional — whether financial analyst, lawyer or physician — and getting information for free. The customer I had last month is making us revisit the “consulting fee” issue.
First, she spent more than an hour in the office while I explained all the options that exist for visiting Alaska. She studied all the material I provided and then e-mailed me a list of about 12 questions, which I researched and answered. This took approximately another two hours, and included looking at schedules for the Alaska State Ferry System. I had a cabin on courtesy hold on the deck she wanted, and it even came with a $200 onboard credit discount. When I called the following day to make sure I had addressed all her questions, she informed me that she had booked the cruise-tour herself online the night before. Nice.
You may or may not know that studies indicated that money spent in a community — in this case my commission — is turned over on average seven times. It’s a domino, trickle-down effect. So I take my commission and buy new tires for my car. The mechanic takes his salary and buys something from the home improvement store. The clerk there takes his wife out to dinner. The waitress takes some of her tips to the beauty shop. The beautician goes to the grocery store. You get the big picture of how one payment infuses money into the local economy on many levels. If any of you know someone who has had their work hours cut, lost their job, or worse yet, lost their home, then I know one person who’s to blame. If enough people keep sending money out of Payson, soon it will be a town of retired people who will have to drive to the Valley for all goods and services. All the small businesses will be out of business, and the people looking for work will have left town long ago.
Some of you know that the standard commission is 10 percent, but by no means is the commission based on the final cruise or tour price. The price we quote consists of a commissionable fee for the cabin. To this are added non-commissionables of port charges, and government taxes and fees. Since the cruise lines can’t cut the price of port charges or taxes and fees, there’s only one thing left to cut, the commissionable fare. 2009 was the year of huge price cuts across the industry, as ships tried to fill their cabins. Cruise lines can afford to “lose money” on the cruise fares because they make money on so many other items, such as alcoholic beverages, the casinos, bingo, photographs, spa and salon treatments, art auctions, shore excursions and gift shop purchases. Last year, we saw our commissions fall by more than 60 percent. Here’s hoping that 2010 will be more prosperous for everyone. That money will be spent in Payson, so that those needing to work can do so, and help no more small businesses fold.
Cruise Port Travel is located at 900 W. Driftwood Dr. in Payson. Phone us at (928) 472-7878 for information about cruises and land-based vacations. Visit our Web site, www.travelpayson.com or call (928) 472-7878.