Cruise Planners/American Express, the nation’s largest home-based travel agent franchise network in the cruise industry, today officially announced agent accreditation has increased 100 percent with 50,000 courses taken since introducing Cruise Planners University (CPU) nearly one year ago. The news follows the launch of the CPU senior track, which went live within the online site during the company’s annual convention last month in Fort Lauderdale, Florida. Earlier this year, CPU won the coveted Gold Magellan Award for its innovative approach to travel agent training.

Prior to the launch of Cruise Planners travel agent university, an online educational program that integrates Cruise Lines International Association (CLIA) and select cruise line and tour company universities with Cruise Planners’ core training modules, 33 percent of Cruise Planners agents were CLIA certified. Now, nearly 55 percent of Cruise Planners agents are CLIA certified and are taking their continuing education to a new level, working toward becoming Certified Cruise Planner Experts (CCPE), the new platinum standard in travel agent accreditation. There are currently 600 active CPU students with 400 graduates moving on to the senior track.

“The statistics demonstrate that we are the number one travel franchise company in the U.S. in terms of certification penetration, which is an outstanding achievement by our agents,” said Terri Burke, CTC, MCC, senior vice president of relationship marketing for Cruise Planners/American Express. “Seeing how our agents have embraced CPU, CLIA training and our partners’ university programs shows the commitment they have to providing the best level of service to consumers. This business is always changing and CPU provides a dynamic platform allowing our agents to learn at their own pace, wherever, whenever by using cutting edge Flash video technology and providing agents with a broad curriculum taught by industry experts – all with the latest information to keep our agents informed.”

The senior track launched with 30 courses ranging from Virtual Tools for Your Virtual Office and Go Google Yourself to Breakeven Analyses for Groups. The curriculum was developed to provide agents with information on how to improve their home-based travel business while also focusing on social media and its uses to increase business. “Our CPU curriculum focuses on both travel knowledge and business best practices in order to create a versatile ‘travel agent of today,'” Burke added. In addition to CPU’s senior track, Cruise Planners has also added a virtual coaching platform to the online program. The new feature is an interactive resource that feeds agents with personalized news and information to help them grow, sell and serve customers – fully searchable and archived for use at any time.

Cruise Planners has also launched “Success Express,” a new beta exclusive partnership with CLIA that provides agents with a discounted bundled rate for all three components of the organization’s programs. Now, it’s easier and more economical for agents to become a member and earn certification. Success Express includes the CLIA travel agent identification card, individual membership and certification enrollment at a preferred price in recognition of Cruise Planners’ steadfast support of CLIA training and certification initiatives.

“It’s not just about cruises anymore,” continued Burke. “We want our agents to be well-rounded when it comes to every aspect of the travel industry, which is the reason we are offering more training and new opportunities that allow our agents to grow and make a positive impact on sales.”

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 Platinum Circle Member by Viking River Cruises; Royal Caribbean International Home-based Partner of the Year (2007 – 2009); Regent Seven Seas Cruises Top Producer (2009); Globus Top Producing Partner (2009) and American Express Travel Representative Excellence Awards (2004 – 2009). For more general information, please visit

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