I have led a charmed life. I had the luck to be in the right place at the right time, availing me the ability to stand on the shoulders of the struggles of my grandparents and parents.
My first big personal “right place right time” event was Sputnik, when I was seven. The Russians were ahead of us so maybe it was time to teach everyone science, not just the boys. What a thought!
My parents were teachers and only good character and an inquisitive mind were held in higher esteem than formal education. Since both my parents struggled for their college degrees, I knew it was important for me to take my education as far as I could. However, my one bump in the road was my high school counselor who thought I didn’t need to take college prep courses because I would meet Mr. Right and get married. Jumping over that very low hurdle, I eventually graduated from UCLA and attended the Southern California College of Optometry. I have worked as an Optometrist since my graduation in 1976. Oh, and I did meet Mr. Right in my sophomore year.
Being an Optometrist was and is a calling to give people the very best vision comfort and function that they could possibly have with their eyes. I always worked in a multi-doctor facility and I was the doctor called when someone wanted someone especially patient or needed a little extra TLC. I would listen and find out what trouble they were having that no one else had helped them with. I have many testimonials about how I made the first pair of glasses that they could use comfortably and how I gave them their lives back. This has been a really personally enriching field for me and I still have my loyal patients that will see another Optometrist in an emergency, but for the finesse of the final result, they come to see me.
So, what does this all have to do with Travel and Cruising?
As a Junior in college, 1969, I took off a quarter to spendthree months traveling through Mexico with my parents and sisters. I was the translator, having just finished Spanish 2 at UCLA. We camped in a trailer while exploring the width and breadth of Mexico from Guaymas to Veracruz, from Mexico City to Acapulco, from Guadalajara to Tehuantepec. We also visited Oaxaca, Campeche and eventually to Merida, where on the way to taking a ferry to Isla Mujeres we stood on the vacant shoreline that in the next few years was to become Cancun. My dad was an archaeology and geology junky so, consequently the rest of us were also. At an earlier age, camping around the USA was our favorite family vacation as children during a teacher’s summer off.
Once married, my husband and I took our children to visit many National Parks, but we only tried camping once. (My mother said that my husband only took us to the nicest places).
The big change occurred when my husband gave me a Mother’s day Present of a 3 day Mexico Cruise. We were hooked. We saw how you could be on vacation and not have to cook or look for a restaurant to feed small hungry children and you could stop at exotic ports without the need to pack and unpack and catch a plane, car, bus or train in between each destination. On top of that, ships are beautiful and come with their own wide variety of entertainment.
After many cruises we realized we would like to introduce other family members to the delights of cruising. At that point I became interested in becoming a travel agent (a home based agent for a recognized international travel company) so that I could find the best deals for my family members and literally subsidize their vacations. Ultimately this led to several wonderful family reunion cruises. These cruises put sistersand cousins separated by a continent, as well as Aunts and Uncles,brothers and dear friends, all together in one place. Theycould meet every night for a sumptuous dinner and spend as much time together or apart as they wanted during the day. Other family reunions had been nice, but someone was always overburdened with getting the food or planning the entertainment or cleaning up. On these cruises, just like with my Optometry patients, I was able to put the pieces together so that everyone could relax and get full enjoyment and comfort from their vacation and family reunion.
The joy of creating cruises like this for my whole family became a joy that I wanted to repeat for other people. As I started weaning myself from full time Optometry I become more and more involved in the travel business. It was such a delight to put together the details of a wonderful family trip so that they could enjoy and not have to worry about part A fitting into part B. That is my job and doing it well is personally very rewarding.
Then I decided to kick it up a notch.
If families could go on cruises, then why not groups of colleagues, businesses, classes, or anyone with fans and followers and lists?
Not only could I make a carefree vacation for them as a group, but I would be able to add extra value to their cruises by arranging meeting spaces and cocktail parties. I could set up shared shore excursions if desired and arrange group photos, coordinate all the meetings and functions with the cruise ships at a much better cost effectiveness than in hotels and set up the next meeting for the next year as a surprise at the end of the cruise.
I eventually found my mentor and colleagues to help perfect this adventure in the Certified Group Event Travel Specialist training program. I learned how to automate to better serve my clients. With their knowledge and expertise I was finally able to take the next step, which was to set up my own business, Your Events at Sea and thus became “Barbara the Cruising Queen.”
Now my granddaughter, Princess Sofia, will tell everyone that her Grandma Barbara, the “Cruising Queen” is The Best!