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Training Class on the Carnival Conquest

The mega-ship Carnival Conquest was our accommodations for this particular training class, cruising for 7 nights from Galveston to Montego Bay-Jamaica, Grand Cayman, and Cozumel. For a cruise ship review of the Carnival Conquest, click here.

Monday and Tuesday were both sea days, and the group met for training in the Gallery (picture # 1), the Conquest's meeting room, to go over the training manual, sales and marketing techniques, the basics of booking travel, detailed instructions on how to book air flights/car rentals/hotels, travel insurance, and our payments and refund policies. The second day focused on tours, especially all-inclusive resorts, and cruises, with a special emphasis on the very profitable Alaska cruise & tour market.

On Wednesday, we docked in Montego Bay, Jamaica, where we scheduled a resort inspection tour. We were met by a van driver (2) with Tourwise Limited. Tourwise provides the airport/hotel transfer service for several tour operators, including Funjet Vacations. They also offer excursions and tours around Jamaica from hotels and resorts in Montego Bay, Negril, and Ocho Rios.

Our resort inspection tour included a little shopping time at a Montego Bay straw market (3), where we did our best to contribute to the local economy, as our group members display their treasures (4). Our first inspection stop was at the Wyndham Rose Hall and Country Club, a 5+ star property located just 15 minutes from the airport. Its expansive entrance (5) leads into a beautiful lobby (6). 

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A sales representative (7) gave us a tour of the Rose Hall, which included restaurants (8), guest rooms (many with magnificent views of the lush tropical grounds {9}), the pools (10 & 11), and the beach (12).

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The most impressive feature of Rose Hall is the Sugar Mill Falls Water Park (13), the largest in the Caribbean, with three terraced lagoons, a lazy river (14), and two whirlpool spas. Sports enthusiasts will enjoy the new, Robert von Hagge Three Palms Ocean Championship Golf Course, tennis, fitness center, windsurfing, snorkeling, diving, sailing, and much more.

Our next stop was at the SuperClubs 3+ star resort, Breezes at Montego Bay (15). This all-inclusive resort may not be fancy, but it has a great location. Nestled in the heart of downtown, Breezes is on the "Hip Strip", just down the street from the wildly popular hot-spot, Jimmy Buffet's Margaritaville. Guests can relax in the rooftop Jacuzzi (17) and admire the fabulous view, and enjoy a great beach (18 - here a beach wedding just wrapped up . . . to the right of the arch are the groom and bride with their photographer). 

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Our last inspection stop was at the Sunset Beach Resort & Spa. The expansive open air lobby (19-21) opens to an inviting, large pool area (22). We were shown how the guest rooms were being renovated, from the current look (23) to what they will be transformed into (24). 

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The all-inclusive Sunset boasts beautiful grounds, popular for beach-side weddings which are held in a gazebo (25), and guests can play a round on a miniature golf course (26), next to the children's clubhouse (27).

The next day, the Conquest anchored off Georgetown, Grand Cayman (28), between two cruise liners, Carnival's Paradise (29), and Royal Caribbean's Voyager of the Seas (30). We did not schedule any resort inspections in the Caymans, in order to allow our Associates to take advantage of some island excursions, such as the fantastic Sting Ray City tour where participants can swim with the sting rays (one of our "don't miss" shore excursion recommendations). Nearby our ship were the Atlantis Submarine and the Jolly Roger pirate ship (31), two fun and highly recommended shore excursions. 

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Our last port of call was Cozumel, Mexico. Transportation for our group was arranged through Lomas Travel, who provides the airport transfer, ground services, and hotel information desks for several tour operators, such as Funjet Vacations (who provides air charter vacations to Mexico and the Caribbean from many U.S. cities). Our first stop was at the brand new Occidental Grand Cozumel, a beautiful, all-inclusive 5-star resort featuring colonial-style architecture, as seen at the open air lobby (32), courtyards (33), outdoor dining areas (34), restaurants (35) and buffet (36). 

Lush grounds (37) surround the eleven buildings (38), where the 252 guest rooms are accessed through a courtyard. The most economical rooms are categorized deluxe (40-41), as Cindy Broussard, an Associate from Louisiana, tries out the garden tub for size (42). 

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The Royal Club features junior suites (43-45) and master suites (46-48), that feature Jacuzzi style bathtubs, room service, with concierge and business services, as explained by our host (49). 

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Heading to the beach area, we passed the quiet pool (50), so called because no activities, music, or entertainment are allowed to disturb guests. Access to the beach is by boardwalk (51) that passes through dense vegetation that surrounds the resort, leading to the beach pool (52-53) and the Beach Bar & Grill (54). We checked out the scrumptious buffet (55), enjoyed a cold drink (56), and enjoyed the view of the beach (57-58). Then after viewing the disco, kids area, and spa/gym, we headed back to the buffet area in the main building for a delicious lunch.

Our next stop was at the Reef Club, a 4+ star all-inclusive resort on the south side of Cozumel Island, close to great dive sites and famous Palancar Reef. The open-air lobby offers a great view of the main pool area (59), where we are attacked (OK . . . hugged...) by local wildlife (60). 

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Our tour of the resort took us by the main pool (61-62), where we enjoyed a refreshing drink. Everybody was having a great time, especially the kids enjoying a supervised activity (63). Though the resort reminded me of a large apartment complex (64-66), its compact layout kept walking distances short . 

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The rooms were nicely appointed (67), but the suites (68-70) with the Jacuzzi on the patio (71) were a big hit (I love that view!). We went down to the beachfront area where we saw the indoor/outdoor dining areas (72-73), and the beach (74-75). The rest of our afternoon in Cozumel was free time, with some of the group heading in to town for some serious shopping, while others stopped at the party spots of Carlos 'n Charlie's and Seņor Frogs.

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As we cruised back to the U.S., we finished our extensive training, and enjoyed the various activities and entertainment on the ship. On several of the evenings, the maitre d' serenaded the passengers with Frank Sinatra tunes (he had a great voice), and the dining room waitstaff sang and danced for us (76). Special kudos go to our Waiter, Mladen and his assistant, Denisa (77), who gave our group great service.

On disembarkation day, rather than sit around and wait for the disembarkation call, we recommend that Associates take a quick tour of the passenger cabin areas and look at the different cabin categories available on the ship (such as wheelchair accessible cabin 1003 in picture 78), when all the cabins are open for cleaning.

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Our training group's heartfelt thanks go out to our travel partners who helped us put together another successful training class and gave our new Associates invaluable, personal knowledge about their products:

    Carnival Cruise Lines         Tourwise         Lomas Travel         Wyndham Rose Hall and Country Club         Breezes at Montego Bay

    Sunset Beach Resort & Spa         Occidental Grand Cozumel         Reef Club 

 

Written by:  Gary D. Ashorn, President of A & A Cruises & Tours


 

Training Class on Carnival's Jubilee

Carnival's Fun Ship Jubilee (1) was the host of last Fall's training class. Sailing from Galveston, we cruised for five nights to Calica and Cozumel. Prior to dinner on our first night, the group met for a two-hour introductory meeting, and then was free to enjoy the evening activities on the ship. The next day, which was a day at sea, our new Associates learned sales and marketing techniques, the basics of booking travel, detailed instructions on how to book air flights/car rentals/hotels, travel insurance, and our payments and refund policies.

After the Jubilee docked at Calica (between Cancun and Playa del Carmen on Mexico's Yucatan Peninsula), our group was met by representatives of Lomas Travel, who we arranged to provide us with all-inclusive resort inspections on our port-of-call days (all-inclusive means all meals, bar beverages, and non-motorized watersports equipment are included). Lomas Travel provides the airport transfer, ground services, and hotel information desks for several tour operators, such as Funjet Vacations (who provides air charter vacations to Mexico and the Caribbean from Houston and other cities). 

Our first resort inspection was at the Occidental Grand Flamenco Xcaret Resort, located on the Mayan Sun Coast, between Cancun and Playa del Carmen. This lovely 769 room luxury resort is next door to the popular Xcaret ecological park. The resort's entrance lobby (2-some of our group members) features a soaring cathedral ceiling, overlooking a pool connected to a riverwalk (3) that winds its way through the resort. The Groups & Conventions Coordinator, Ms. Aracely Campos, escorted us on an inspection of the property, which included the pool areas (4), the Beach Club (5), Kids Club, standard rooms and suites, and the restaurants and meeting facilities (click on the hotel link above for lots of photos and information about this fabulous resort).

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Our next stop was luncheon and inspection at the El Dorado Royale Spa & Resort, an all-adult, all-inclusive hotel. A delicious lunch (6) was hosted by the resort's sales manager, Rogelio Frachey, followed by an inspection of the property. I had the unique opportunity to see the resort in its building stage, so it was a real treat to see the finished product (7). Looking at the standard rooms (8 & 9), everyone loved the Jacuzzi tub in the corner, and the hammock on the patio/balcony. The "Casita" suites (10) look like little bungalows, with Jacuzzi garden tub (11 & 12).

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In the afternoon, the Lomas reps dropped us off at Xcaret, a wonderfully amazing ecological park and Mayan-themed family entertainment center located next to the Calica cruise ship dock. Attractions include an aquarium, dolphins (plus a "swim with the dolphins" experience at additional cost), ecological tours, and scuba/snorkeling/snuba at lagoons, underground rivers, and the beach. The visitor center has a large gift shop and scale models of the numerous Mayan cities that dot Mexico and Central America.

Since our cruise included a late-night departure time from Calica, we were able to attend the evening folkloric show at Xcaret. Mayan warriors (13) use conch shells as horns to call visitors to the show, a history of the people of Mexico. Starting with an encounter between the peoples of two Mayan cities (14) and a challenge to a ballgame, you progress forward through time and witness the arrival of the Spaniards (15) and the independence of Mexico. Finally, each region of Mexico showcased their unique music and dances (16 & 17).

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The next day, the Jubilee calls at the island of Cozumel, where we are picked up by Lomas Travel reps to inspect two more all-inclusive resorts. The first is the El Cozumeleņo Beach Resort, where we check out the pool & beach area (18). The resort's Conventions & Groups representative, Yolanda Trujillo, took us for a look at the hotel's facilities and various guest rooms, including the huge penthouse Presidential Suite (19). Then we were treated with lunch (20) by our host, Alfredo Espinosa, General Mgr. of the Park Royal Cozumel, located across the street from the International Pier where many of the cruise ships dock at. This very affordable resort features a Mayan sculpture waterfall under a giant open-air dome (21), and lush tropical landscaping (22). The rest of the afternoon in Cozumel was free time, allowing the Associates time to explore and shop for great bargains, or to join in the zaniness at the "hot-hot-hot" party spots of Cozumel, Carlos'n Charlie's and Seņor Frogs. 

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On the last day at sea on our return to Galveston, the group completed its training by learning how to find, promote and book groups, vacation packages and cruises. The new Associates were also taught the secrets that the really good travel agents use to get the sale. We also took a break to visit the ship's galley, an eye-opening experience.

Of course, the Associates had the evenings free during the cruise in order to enjoy the wonderful variety of activities and entertainment Carnival offers, including a surprise birthday celebration after dinner for one of our Associates (23).

Our heartfelt thanks go out to our travel partners who helped us put together another successful training class (24) and gave our new Associates invaluable, personal knowledge about their products:

    Carnival Cruise Lines         Lomas Travel         Occidental Grand Flamenco Xcaret Resort         El Dorado Royale Spa & Resort         Xcaret  

    El Cozumeleņo Beach Resort         Park Royal Cozumel

 

Written by:  Gary D. Ashorn, President of A & A Cruises & Tours

 

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