With more than 40 years of experience coordinating luxury cruises departing from Seattle and around the globe, Annie Scrivanich is unquestionably an authority on cruise travel. As Senior Vice President at Cruise Specialists in Seattle, agents like Annie are proving that even in the age of online booking, there’s no substitute for a travel agent’s expertise.
With booming demand for customized experiences and a more personal touch in travel, the travel agent business is on a roll. Many travel agencies are reporting record growth and the 70 percent of cruises booked through travel agents play a major role in supporting those jobs and businesses.
“We work with people from all over the world with different needs and different dreams in terms of what they want to see and do,” explained Annie. “It's a travel agent’s job to interpret that and make it happen. We make sure all the details are handled so our clients can focus on the fun.”
Savvy travel consulting
Mastering the art of cruise travel starts with knowing the ships themselves. Every summer, Cruise Specialists’ agents inspect more than a dozen ships as they visit Seattle, getting a firsthand look at cabins, amenities, entertainment, cleanliness, carpeting, and anything else that will set the tone for a guest’s experience.
But, of course, it’s not just what a travel agent knows that enables them to provide value to clients, it’s also their connections.
“A fan favorite is our Distinctive Voyages program, where there is a host or traveling concierge with the group that can provide additional amenities once you’re on board the ship,” said Annie. “Those amenities include private tours, cocktail parties, and other events at no additional cost to our guests. Someone that’s out shopping on the internet on their own would never be able to find that.”
In recent years, Cruise Specialists, the nation’s leading world cruise travel agency, has seen significant growth in global voyages ranging from 100 to 180 days. The popularity of these bucket list journeys is exploding, and they require exactly the kind of hands-on planning expertise that Cruise Specialists provides. Along with longer voyages, adventure seekers are now gravitating to cruises in increasing numbers, booking expeditions to remote locations like the Galapagos, Antarctica, and the Arctic that are accompanied by naturalists, biologists, and expert guides.
Seattle steps up
As the cruise industry has evolved, so too has Seattle emerged as a leader in the West Coast’s cruise scene, with 2019 marking the 20th year of cruising in Seattle. Today, Seattle is the homeport to 45 percent of Alaska cruises and will host an estimated 213 vessel calls from 8 different cruise lines in 2019. In total, more than 1.2 million cruise passengers will stop in Seattle this year. Development has also started on the city’s third cruise terminal along Pier 46 to accommodate growing demand for cruises to Alaska and other west coast destinations.
It’s a drastic change from Seattle’s sleepy beginnings as a cruise destination. A change Annie has witnessed first-hand.
“For years, motor coaches would pick cruise passengers up at SeaTac and take people straight to the ships in Vancouver, Canada,” Annie recalled. “You’d watch all of that potential revenue just bypass the city. Today our region captures roughly $900 million a year through the foresight the Port of Seattle has shown in developing our cruise terminals and airport. Now many travelers prefer to book cruises departing from Seattle because of our reasonable airfare, the convenience of our cruise terminals and the many new cruise ships that are homeported in Seattle. In the past five years, we’ve shifted approximately 75 percent of our Alaska business to originate in Seattle.”
With this growth also comes the responsibility to help protect the environment. And the Port of Seattle has been a leader, working with cruise lines for decades to make cruising more sustainable through implementation of voluntary clean water agreements; wastewater discharge management long before mandated by regulatory requirements; and by becoming the first port in the nation to install two shore power plugs at the cruise berths— reducing emissions by allowing ships to turn off their engines when docked.
Economic impact of cruise
The cruise industry is supporting more than local cruise line employees—it’s also fueling regional companies that provision ships, travel agents, local tour companies, and even professionals who tune pianos onboard. In 2019, the Seattle cruise industry will directly support an estimated 3,000 jobs, each with average annual wages and benefits of nearly $41,000. The total economic impact of cruise ships to the state economy in 2019, including direct, indirect, and induced impacts, is estimated at 5,500 jobs, $260.1 million in labor income, and $893.6 million in business output.
Some of these jobs are held by Seattleites like Annie, whose salaries pay for mortgages and rents, grocery bills, entertainment, and more.
Seattle’s growth into a cruise hub is a source of personal pride for Annie — a project that has been decades in the making.
“There's a shift in town now on Friday, Saturday, or Sunday afternoon. You can watch the ships line up to sail out of Puget Sound. I feel a bit of pride in watching those ships sail out. It's very pretty and so very exciting for those onboard to look back at our beautiful city skyline.”
Find your way in the cruise business
If you’d like to find a career in the cruise industry, you can find jobs onboard or onshore to fit almost any skillset at CruiseShipJob.com. Opportunities range from jobs like Annie’s to roles in IT, engineering, culinary arts, medicine, sports instruction, and more.
You can also find jobs with Seattle-based cruise lines through the job boards below:
• UnCruise® Adventures
• Holland America Line®
• Windstar® Cruises
• Zegrahm Expeditions
• Paul Gauguin Cruises