Michelle Fee, CEO and co-founder of Cruise Planners/American Express, was named one of the “Top 25 Most Influential Business Women” by the South Florida Business Journal, a weekly regional publication covering business, global and political news.

The award recognizes women in the South Florida business community who portray a strong work ethic and leadership skills, deliver innovation and performance in their industry, and participate in meaningful community programs. Fee, along with the other recipients, was honored during an awards reception last week at the Hyatt Regency Pier Sixty-Six Resort & Spa in Fort Lauderdale, Florida.    

“This honor is truly a reflection of the support I receive from my executive team every day,” said Fee. “It is their constant dedication to the franchise owners and to this company that has helped me strive to be a strong leader and supporter for not only the home office team, but for our home-based agents who have a stake in this company. This award is a reflection of my accomplishments, yet there is no denying that I could not have reached this point in my career without the Cruise Planners family.” 

As a woman entrepreneur, Fee took her first step in the travel agent business when she opened her own agency in 1981. After several successful years, and with the help of colleagues in the travel business, she created Cruise Planners in 1994. A small business that started out with only five agents in training has become the largest home-based travel agent franchise network in the cruise industry with more than 800 franchise owners across the nation.

“I believe in entrepreneurship, and I love being able to offer people a way to be their own boss and strive without boundaries,” continued Fee. “My team and I have created a unique business model that gives our agents the right tools for success. By building solid clientele and utilizing the innovative marketing tools we create, our agents can be successful regardless of the economic outlook, and that is the drive I hope influences Cruise Planners’ agents to stay with us. Overall, this award inspires me to be a stronger leader for my team and for the more than 800 agents with us today.”   

Along with this recent recognition, Fee was also named one of the “Top 25 Most Extraordinary Minds in Sales and Marketing” for 2009 by the Hospitality Sales & Marketing Association International (HSMAI). In 2003, she was also named one of Travel Agent magazine’s Most Powerful Women in Travel, and in 2006, Travel Agent of the Year by Travel Trade magazine. Under her leadership, Cruise Planners has been named the No.1 Cruise Tour / Travel Agency by Entrepreneur magazine for the past five years. Other accolades include Royal Caribbean International Home-Based Partner of the Year (2007 – 2009); Regent Seven Seas Top Producer for 2008 – 2009 and recipient of the Viking River Cruises Platinum Circle Award.

About Cruise Planners/American Express

Cruise Planners, an American Express Travel Services Representative, is the largest home-based travel agent network in the cruise industry with more than 700 franchise owners across the country that independently book cruises and associated travel. Named No.1 Cruise Tour / Travel Agency by Entrepreneur magazine for the past seven years, Cruise Planners positions franchise owners for success by providing them with innovating marketing, booking and lead-generating tools as well as professional development and hands-on training with the industry’s top executives. 

Headquartered in Coral Springs, Fla., Cruise Planners has achieved top producer status with every major cruise line. Accolades include Royal Caribbean International Home-based Partner of the Year (2007 – 2009); Regent Seven Seas Cruises Top Producer (2009); and American Express Travel Representative Excellence Awards (2004 – 2009). For more general information, please visit

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