Cruise Planners-American Express Travel Co-Owner Named as Viking Cruises Godmother

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Vicky Garcia, COO of Cruise Planners, will christen the Viking Magni in Amsterdam

Today, Cruise Planners-American Express Travel, the nation’s largest home-based travel agent franchise network in the travel industry, announced at The New York Times Travel Show that Viking Cruises has selected COO, Vicky Garcia, to be the godmother of the new longship Viking Magni.

“I am truly honored to be selected as godmother during this historic event,” said Vicky Garcia, COO and co-owner of Cruise Planners-American Express Travel. “Viking Cruises believes in travel agents and they are an amazing travel partner.”

Garcia is co-owner of Cruise Planners-American Express Travel, which represents more than 900 travel franchises around the world. All travel agents now have more river cruise options to sell with Viking’s new longships, and Cruise Planners expects to help fill that since the demand during the past few years has skyrocketed. Cruise Planners has seen a spike of more than 250% in river cruise sales in the last two years, which includes sales of Viking Cruises.

“From the industry perspective, Viking Cruises still pays agent commissions on non-commissionable fares, which shows how the line values travel agents,” Garcia said. “The effort they have made to grow the river cruising market has been great.”

The christening ceremony will take place in Amsterdam in March 2014 and will be part of the unprecedented fleet of 18 longships being christened by Viking Cruises.

“Remarkable women are historically honored as godmothers,” said Michelle Fee, CEO of Cruise Planners-American Express Travel. “Vicky embodies what Viking represents and selecting her to be godmother of Viking Magni, meaning strength, is a word that truly describes her.”

As ceremonial godmother, Garcia is entrusted with the guidance of the ship to and around its destinations, and will perform the age-old, maritime traditional blessing of the ship for the safety of its crew and passengers throughout its journey. In addition to providing the blessing, godmothers traditionally break champagne against the ship’s hull to formally christen a ship before its inaugural sail.

“I’m especially touched that I was selected to christen the Viking Magni since it has such a powerful definition, so I now have a lot to live up to,” Garcia said. “I usually don’t like wasting a good ‘bubbly,’ but I am truly excited about breaking this bottle of champagne,” Garcia joked.

About Cruise Planners–American Express Travel
Cruise Planners-American Express Travel is the nation’s largest home-based travel agent franchise network in the travel industry. Cruise Planners operates a franchise network of more than 900 experienced travel professionals who independently book amazing vacation and travel experiences for their clients. The Home Office team positions franchise owners for success by providing them with innovative marketing, booking and lead-generating tools as well as professional development and hands-on training with the industry’s top executives. The company continues to be lauded and was named No.1 Cruise Tour / Travel Agency by Entrepreneur for the past 11 years and recently featured in Entrepreneur as one of the top 30 franchise innovators in technology.

Headquartered in Coral Springs, Fla. for 20 years, Cruise Planners has achieved top producer status with every major cruise line. Accolades include a record 11 Magellan Awards from Travel Weekly in 2013, Special Needs Group Accessible Travel Advocate Power Partners™ for 2012, American Express Travel Representative Excellence Award for eight years in a row (2004 – 2011), American Express Agency of the Year (2010), Royal Caribbean International Home-Based Partner of the Year (2007 – 2013), Royal Caribbean International President’s Award for Overall Achievement for 2012, Norwegian Cruise Line Franchise Agency of the Year (2011-2013) and Home-Based Agency of the Year (2010), Celebrity Cruises Home-Based Account of the Year (2013) and Southeast Region Travel Agent Partner of the Year (2010), American Express Vacations Globe Award (2008 – 2012), Globus Family of Brands Premier Agency Partner (2009- 2012), Platinum Circle Member with Viking River Cruises (2009-2012) and Regent Seven Seas Cruises Top Producer. Cruise Planners is one of the Top 50 franchises for Veterans according to GI magazine, has been named one of the Top 25 franchises for African-Americans by Black Enterprise magazine and is a member of the International Gay & Lesbian Travel Association. For information, visit

Stay in Touch: Media can stay up-to-date with Cruise Planners by visiting our media room, following us on Twitter @Cruisitude or on Facebook. For additional information or to make reservations, vacationers should locate a travel advisor near them. For those interested in becoming a franchise owner, please visit our franchise site.

About Viking River Cruises
Viking Cruises offers destination-centric river and ocean cruising designed for experienced travelers with an interest in geography, culture and history. Featuring onboard cultural enrichment and included shore excursions, Viking’s journeys are competitively priced for genuine value. Debuting its maiden season of ocean cruising in 2015, the sophisticated state-of-the-art Viking Star will host 930 guests on itineraries in Scandinavia and the Baltic; and the Western and Eastern Mediterranean. As the world’s leading river cruise line, since its 1997 inception the company has grown to a fleet of 35 river vessels (in 2013) offering scenic cruising along the rivers of Europe, Russia, Ukraine, China, and Southeast Asia. Viking has been honored multiple times in Travel + Leisure’s “World’s Best” Awards and Condé Nast Traveler’s “Gold List” as well as recognized by the editors of Cruise Critic as “Best River Cruise Line,” with the entire Viking Longships fleet being named “Best New River Ships of 2012” in the website’s Editors’ Picks Awards. The travel trade has ranked Viking as the “Best River Cruise Line” by Travel Weekly, Recommend and Travel Agent magazines, “Best Cruise Line for Luxury River Cruises” at the Luxury Travel Advisor Awards of Excellence and as “Best Overall Cruise Line for River Cruising” and “Best River Cruise Line for Travel Agent Support” in TravelAge West’s WAVE Awards.

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Caitlin Murphy
Cruise Planners
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