Release InTouch Travel Expands Concept of Cultural Immersion to Cruise-ship Shore Excursions

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InTouch Travel, an international company providing in-depth cultural experiences with carefully selected local hosts, is expanding into the niche of cruise-ship shore excursions, starting with five programs for clients of a September SeaDream cruise of the Mediterranean out of Venice.

InTouch Travel, an international company providing in-depth cultural experiences with carefully selected local hosts, is expanding into the niche of cruise-ship shore excursions, starting with five programs for clients of a September SeaDream cruise of the Mediterranean out of Venice.

Launched a year ago, InTouch is known for its innovative programs of intensive cultural immersion. To date, it has concentrated on independent, experienced vacationers who spend two days or more “Up Close” with their hosts, who provide them with what the New York Times calls “instant access...to the local buzz.”

Gary Johnson, owner of Woodside Travel in Seattle, asked InTouch to create a shorter version of its Up Close program for its SeaDream clients. “We wanted something unique and upscale for our clientele, something beyond the traditional pre- and post-cruise sightseeing excursions.”

Andrea Nims, founder of InTouch Travel, asked hosts who lived near Venice (from Milan to Dubrovnik, in fact) if they could adapt their InTouch itineraries, designed for one couple at a time, to small groups of cruise-ship guests. “We were gratified that several of our hosts responded with enthusiasm, and we're offering their programs to SeaDream,” she said.

They are:

  •     Carla Cassano, an American expert on the artisans and cuisine of maritime Venice.
  •     Alessandra Bolzagni, a Milan native who studied hotel management at Cornell, an expert on the Northern Italian Lakes.
  •     Lidia Despinoza, a teacher in Milan, devotee of the theater, and authority on Milan's sparkling nightlife.
  •     Alexandra Atzeni, who studied at the London College of Fashion, offers personal shopping assistance in Milan and the fashion outlets of Switzerland.
  •     Inga Zivkusic, Dubrovnik, married to a winemaker and an expert on Croatia's seafood and wine.

The response of Woodside Travel's SeaDream clients has been overwhelmingly positive. “These are sophisticated travelers who are eager to add the component of cultural immersion and a foreign lifestyle to their cruise-ship experience,” according to Johnson.

Nims points out that other cruise ships in other ports would find entirely different programs. “We have 75 hosts in over a dozen countries. These five just happen to live nearby and are available in September. ”

Tour operators, travel agents and cruise lines are invited to contact InTouch Travel for additional information on including cultural immersion programs in their packages. Write to Andrea@InTouchTravel.com.

InTouch Travel pays the standard 8 percent commission to travel agents who include a memorable InTouch experience in their clients' vacations.

InTouch Travel is based in Seattle, Washington. Company founder Andrea Nims was born and raised in Germany. She studied Business Administration with an emphasis on tourism, and worked for tour operators in Germany, the United Kingdom and Mexico before moving to the United States 13 years ago. For eight years she worked for a company specializing in luxury wine and food vacations in France. “I learned that many American travelers missed getting to know local residents, and that there was a growing interest in traveling for personal enrichment.”

A list of current hosts, searchable by professional specialty, is available online at http://intouchtravel.com/hosts

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