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Niche Cruise Marketing Alliance Adds Online Training Program

( Seattle, Washington - August 13, 2007 The Niche Cruise Marketing Alliance has introduced an online training program to allow travel agents to become Certified Niche Cruise Specialists in the comfort of their home or office.
“Although we offer in-person training sessions throughout the United States several times a year, we realize is it not always convenient for agents to attend these sessions," said NCMA Executive Director Lawrence Dessler.

“We felt that adding an online training component would allow us to reach a larger number of agents who would like to specialize in this lucrative and fast- growing segment of the cruise industry," Dessler said.

To become a Certified Niche Cruise Specialist, agents need to create a Niche Cruise Academy account by going to and clicking through on the online training icon. Once an agent has created an account, they can register and select the Certified Niche Cruise Specialist Course. After successful completion of the course and certification examination, the agent has become a Certified Niche Cruise Specialist.

With the designation, agents receive a special Certified Niche Cruise Specialist diploma that is suitable for framing and a variety of benefits that entitle them to higher commission on selected NCMA cruises as well as a highlighted listing on the NCMA web site along with various other benefits available only to Certified Niche Cruise Specialists.

To remain a Certified Niche Cruise Specialist, agents must take and pass at least one Niche Cruise Academy online course every two years.
In the initial certification course, agents learn about each of the 13 NMCA cruise members. At the conclusion of this course they will be able to:
• Give a general description of each cruise line.

• Know the history of each cruise line and what each cruse line does best.
• Be able to discuss each cruise line's destinations with a potential customer.
• Talk about the ships in each line's fleet and discuss possible itineraries.
• Understand each line's target customers so they can better sell niche cruises.
• Have a reference for each cruise line's policies and contact information.
• Improve their customer base because they can offer unique cruising options that appeal to more upscale or luxury customers.
The course consists of an introductory chapter, a chapter on why agents should concentrate on niche cruises, chapters on each individual cruise line, an evaluation and conclusion chapter and a certification exam.

The 13 NCMA lines have banded together to educate travel agents on the value of concentrating on the sale of specialty cruise products. The alliance provides educational programs, seminar content and trade show exposure for its members and this industry segment. In addition, its website,, has been redesigned to allow consumers in the United States and Canada to locate certified Niche Cruise Specialist travel agents by zip code, postal code or city.

According to NCMA, in today's environment, travel agents need to identify those programs that can help them stand apart from their competitors. Dessler believes agents need a way to differentiate their products from those offered by mass-market distributors.

By concentrating on select products niche cruise specialists can add value to the transaction, satisfy their clients, and open the door to higher commissions.
Specialty cruises are unique products offering unique experiences, such as exploration, adventure, and off- the-beaten-path destinations.

Specialty cruises concentrate on luxury and new experiences. Niche cruises include river cruising and international cruising and often feature small ships to get up-close and personal with the destination, ships that provide an ambiance of style service or national focus, and products that go beyond the sun/fun and superficiality of the mass market products.

Chapters on each of the member lines include:
• Introduction and Overview
• History and Distinguishing Features
• Destinations and Itineraries
• Ships in the Fleet
• Target Customers
• Travel Agent Policies and Contact Information
• Knowledge Check

NCMA member lines include American Cruise Lines, Fred. Olsen Cruises, Galapagos Explorer II (Canodros), Imperial River Cruises, Louis Cruise Lines, Majestic America Line, Norwegian Coastal Voyage, Orion Expedition Cruises, Pandaw Cruises, Peter Deilmann Cruises, RiverBarge Excursion Lines, Star Clippers and Voyages of Discovery. All lines except Pandaw Cruises, which is the newest member of NCMA, are included in the online training program. Pandaw will be added shortly.

There are currently more than 2850 Niche Cruise Specialists throughout the United States and Canada.

The NCMA office is in Bellevue, Washington, a suburb of Seattle. Dessler can be reached by telephone at 425.867.0399, fax at 425.867.0589 or e-mail at href="">

Niche Cruise Marketing Alliance Steven Kravitz Press Contact email: phone: (305) 932-4785 Niche Cruise Marketing Alliance Lawrence Dessler Executive Director email: phone: 425-867-0399

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