Vay Kaye wakes up to the rain pattering against her window. She takes one look outside at the dismal grey and puts a pillow over her head. She pictures a crystal clear ocean with palms gently blowing in the breeze. The easiest way to get to paradise – as close as she’s going to get for a while, anyway - is to go into work. Today, she gets to help plan a honeymoon for a couple. Vay has a good feeling about the options she chose for their trip. She took to heart the bride-to-be’s warning that you only get one honeymoon.
Vay walks up to the travel agency that she has been working at for ten years. She shakes out her umbrella before entering, then removes her raincoat, hoodie, poncho, and galoshes. Clearly, she is not a fan of the rain. As far as she’s concerned, water should stay in a Jacuzzi, where it belongs.
It is common knowledge around the agency that Vay hates the rain. However, she has been able to incorporate her love of tropical weather into her work, making the most of a bad situation. The enthusiasm that she brings to her job booking cruise vacations is infectious. The cruise industry has skyrocketed over the last decade. According to the Florida-Caribbean Cruise Association, over 16 million people took a cruise in 2011. Cruise ships have focused their efforts on designing their ships and services for a wider audience of families and active adults. Gone are the days of passengers having no option for killing time other than playing card games on the main deck. Today, cruises offer movie theatres, casinos, water parks, ice skating rinks, rock climbing walls, malls, golf simulators and numerous types of restaurants. Cruises have turned into virtual cities, with few differences. There are not yet any Post Offices on board, but Vay is sure that, once there are, they will run just as slowly as the ones in actual cities.
She checks her email for any updates. As a member of the Cruise Lines International Association, Vay gets access to information posted by cruise line companies that the general public won’t see. To be the best travel agent she can be, she takes classes and workshops through the organization. She notices that a couple of cruise deals to Alaska have been announced. This new deal coincides with a trip that she is booking for a couple interested in outdoor activities. According to the deal, passengers can kayak, deep-sea fish and take skiff boats for a close up view of glaciers. It isn’t for everyone, but some people actually get excited about the prospect of gazing at oversized ice cubes at close range. She calls up her clients.
“I can email you the details or you can just pop in so we can go over the cruise’s itinerary,” Vay says.
“Do they offer vegetarian food options?” her client asks. “I will eat fish, but my husband is a strict vegetarian.”
“I have worked with this cruise line in the past and they have always offered vegetarian food options, but let me call them and check,” Vay says.
Before Vay can give the cruise line a call, her clients who are booking their honeymoon come in.
Harmony and Charles have not been her easiest clients. Their honeymoon plans change weekly and it has taken several meetings to get them to nail down where they want to go.
“We are so unhappy,” says the ironically named bride-to-be.
“What happened?” Vay asks.
“My parents are getting divorced, which means we need to have two ceremonies. The first one will be in California and the second one in New York. So we need to sail out of New York,” Harmony says.
“I’m sure we can either book a plane back to California or find a cruise leaving from the East Coast,” Vay says.
“Yeah… I want to leave from the East Coast,” Charles says. “That way we will be done with the whole thing by the time we get home.”
Harmony shoots him a dirty look.
“How about leaving from Florida?” Vay says. “I can set you up with a ticket from New York down to Orlando. From Orlando, you can take a shuttle to Cape Canaveral, and then to Nassau.”
“That sounds great,” Harmony says with a smile. So she can smile.
“I think purchasing travel insurance might be wise,” Vay says.
Travel insurance covers emergencies, roadside assistance, translation and medical referrals. There are also travel insurance packages that cover cancellation fees for trips. Ahem, Harmony. She’s lookin’ at you, kid. If there is any other type of documentation that a traveler might need, an experienced travel agent knows where they can go to obtain a visa or passport.
During the rest of Vay’s day, she books car rentals, talks to tour guides, arranges a kosher meal for a client taking a flight, gets updated on weather conditions in Japan for a couple taking a cruise, and researches new tourist attractions in Istanbul. By the time she leaves work, the weather has cleared.
“It may not be the Bahamas, but at least every day is different,” Vay thinks as she enjoys the late afternoon sun.