Cruising into a Sustainable Future

For my ACE, I secured a position with Cruise Planners as a sustainable tourism and responsible travel intern. Cruise Planners is a travel franchise company that supports home-based travel agents across the United States selling both land and cruise vacations. At CP, people believe that travel makes a difference in people’s lives… and it does. People who travel are happier, are more connected to the world around them and are making happy memories that they can look back on for the rest of their lives.

When I first sought out my internship with CP, I could have never imagined a more positive work environment full of people really excited about their jobs. My internship came about after I communicated with the Human Resources director and Public Relations director and explained my sustainable tourism coursework and how sustainable tourism could help Cruise Planners. Throughout the country, there are around 1500 CP franchisees who are home-based travel advisors. At Home Office, where I work, there are around 100 staff members, many of whom support the franchisees (each franchisee is individually known as a travel advisor) in some way. In addition to research I would be doing to understand sustainable tourism offerings available through CP and throughout the tourism industry and how sustainable tourism could be promoted to potential travelers, I would be helping to create webinars, social media posts, infographics, blog posts, etc. that related to sustainable tourism. As a part of my internship, I would be helping educate both the staff at Home Office and the franchisees on what is sustainable tourism.

As a student in sustainable tourism, we learn that even major tourism brands like Disney are doing incredible things in regards to sustainability even though they aren’t “eco-tourism” operators as sustainable tourism is so much more than just a jungle trek in Costa Rica. Part of the challenge – and fun – of my internship was getting to teach people about sustainable tourism. In order to do this, I would first need to figure out what sustainable tourism and responsible travel options CP offered. I went through and really looked at the different vendors to see what companies were doing sustainable things – think innovations to make cruising better for the oceans – and what different travel options were for people wanting to have a more sustainable impact – think shore excursions with a volunteer focus. Cruise Planners offers all types of travel (not just cruises) through seemingly billions of vendors. When you think cruises, you probably think Royal Caribbean and Carnival, then maybe Celebrity, Princess, Norwegian or Holland America. The reality is, there are so many cruise lines including some companies that have just 20-80 people on each ship. If a potential traveler were to go to a travel advisor and say “I want to go on a sustainable cruise,” the travel advisor might have no idea what they are asking for or how to help them, and that’s the fun part of my internship. Getting everyone to see all these vacation options in a new way. In future posts, I’ll get in to more details about the materials I created to help educate people on sustainable tourism, as well as the realities of life outside of the PCGS bubble where not everyone thinks with the same sustainable mindset.

For now, enjoy this great beach photo I took of when I first moved down here as well as a picture from a CP training I attended where I learned about the company from a travel advisor perspective. Hopefully one day these training events will contain entire sustainable tourism segments, but for now I’m just excited pretty excited with a webinar and other digital communications!


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