If there were such a thing as professional cruisers, the folks planning a big trip this fall would definitely be deserving of that title.
Former employees of the Big Red Boat line, which abruptly shut down in 2000, have been keeping in touch and getting together since then, but now will cruise together for the first time in 11 years. This is a group that knows how to have a good time; if you're planning a cruise anyway, why not hang out with these "pros"?
Premier Cruise Lines (which ran the Big Red Boats) had a very close-knit group of employees that still get together annually. Many of those employees found sales positions for various cruise lines, hotels, and tour companies and others with local travel agencies.
Because Premier's corporate office was located in Port Canaveral, the majority of employees lived close by in Brevard County but many lived in the surrounding Orange and Volusia counties and we still see or speak with them often. One of the things that struck me with this group was they have such fond memories of working together and still laugh at the times they had. They had as much fun in the offices as the guests that they booked on the cruises, always dressing up for each of the holidays and having parties galore!
Over the years our office has had a few agents that were former Premier employees - we still have one working in our Melbourne office and when one of the sales representatives come in on a sales call, it's like old times again. They reminisce about the old days and have many pictures to prove what great times they had!
Premier Cruise Line was started in 1983 and quickly became the "best cruise line for families." The relationship with Disney made this possible.
Later Disney and Premier parted ways, mainly due to the fact that Disney was planning on building their own ships. Premier then created a relationship with Universal Studios in Orlando and created travel packages that included a three- or four-night cruise and a Universal parks package.
Premier's ships were older class ships, so when the big lines started building bigger and better ships, the older ships were no longer a draw for families. The line "closed its doors" on Sept. 13, 2000, to the shock and dismay of hundreds of employees including those that were stranded where the ships were at the time of the closing. A very sad day for many, indeed!
This past year there were more than 200 former Premier employees that gathered at Kiwanis Park on Merritt Island for their annual get together. The group has decided on a reunion cruise, which was quickly put together for September 30, 2011.
The cruise will be aboard the Monarch of the Seas (Royal Caribbean), sailing on a three-night cruise to the Bahamas. Pricing starts at $274 (includes current taxes) per person, based on double occupancy for an inside (no window) stateroom. Suites and staterooms that accommodate three and four guests are available as well.
If you have fond memories of the Big Red Boat, you may want to hop onboard this one.
Patty Toppa is a travel consultant with Gadabout Travel. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or www.cruisetraveltours.com.