This past Wednesday, Carnival Cruise Line hosted their first ever Why Use a Travel Advisor party (WUATA) in Orlando, FL. The fun, two-hour public event featured talks from amazing industry leaders on the benefits and value of using a travel advisor to book your next vacation. They even gave away a free 7-night Caribbean cruise on the new Carnival Mardi Gras!
After Carnival’s WUATA event, we sat down with our own Rockstar travel advisor, Effie Walthall, and two of her most loyal clients, Ron and Debbie, on why they use a travel advisor. Spoiler Alert: it’s a stress-free process.
Read the fun interview below!
How did you meet your travel advisor?
Ron: I put some feelers out on the Internet for travel advisors. Must have [reached out] to 10 – 15 people and she’s the only that called me [back].
Debbie: This was 20 years ago.
Oh wow! So, you’ve been going to Effie for 20 years for all your vacations?
Ron: Yeah! When we started using Effie, I still had hair!
Debbie: And she [Effie] had no children at that time.
Effie: I’ve been a travel advisor for 25 years, so it’s been a long time.
Why do you use a travel advisor?
Ron: Like I told Adolfo [Carnival’s Senior Vice President of Sales and Trade Marketing] upstairs, I like the more personal touch a travel advisor has. If something goes wrong, there’s someone I can complain to.
Debbie: Plus, Effie’s amazing.
Ron: She’s like family!
What are the benefits of using a travel advisor that most people don’t realize?
Debbie: After you deal with them one time, they know what you want, and you don’t have to stress. They take care of everything; you don’t have to go down the list [of your needs] again. It’s really easy. At this point, we just give her a date
Effie: Ron does a little research for me because some clients are just like that. He then comes and says, “Eff, this is what we’re thinking about doing.” Not to speak for them but like [Debbie] said, but I know that she likes to be on the 9th floor or higher, she likes midship, port side. I know everything they want.
What are some misconceptions on using a travel advisor that you wish people didn’t have?
Debbie: That they have to pay for travel advisors. I had an instance where I was at the salon and my hairdresser, who knows I go on a lot of cruises, asked, “Gee, how much does your travel advisor cost?”. So, I went into the whole thing about how she doesn’t cost anything. It’s worth using one because if you have any issues down the road, you have help.
Do you send a lot of people Effie’s way?
Debbie: Yeah, she’s onto the second generation in our family. Now that my son and daughter have grown up and had their own families, they use her [to book vacations].
Effie: And hopefully their kids will use me!
Debbie: My granddaughter is already 20 years old so yeah, Effie could be going into the third generation.
Why do you sail Carnival?
Debbie: Carnival targets every age group and, in my family, [we’re multi-generational]. There’s always something for everybody. We also find them to be the friendliest. We spend a lot of our time in the casino, and Carnival is the only cruise line where the casino host comes out and talks to people. In the past, she’s bought us cocktails! On every other brand we’ve been on, no one has ever come out and introduced themselves to us. And we’ve been on 40 cruises.
Effie: They’re my high rollers
How has Effie made your Carnival experience even better?
Debbie: We don’t have to worry. For Christmas, we usually buy all our kids and grandkids a cruise so we can all go together. All I have to do is give Effie a date. She knows who likes what room and knows what everyone wants. She makes sure our dining time is together for all 11 of us. Never have to worry.
For anyone unsure of using a travel advisor, what would you say to them?
Debbie: Why stress? If you use a travel advisor, especially Effie, there’s absolutely no stress involved. All you have to do is pack and get on the boat. That’s it.
[This interview has been edited for clarity purposes]
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