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Wednesday,  May 22, 2024 8:17 PM 

VIDEO: Cruise Academy - Interview with TDC's Sandra Wesson & Virgin Voyages' Sean Russo

VIDEO: Cruise Academy - Interview with TDC's Sandra Wesson & Virgin Voyages' Sean Russo
From left: Sandra Wesson, director of product & industry relations, Transat Distribution Canada; Michael Pihach, managing editor,
Michael Pihach

Michael Pihach is an award-winning journalist with a keen interest in digital storytelling. In addition to PAX, Michael has also written for CBC Life, Ryerson University Magazine, IN Magazine, and Michael joins PAX after years of working at popular Canadian television shows, such as Steven and Chris, The Goods and The Marilyn Denis Show.

It was the ultimate cruise conference at sea.

Transat Distribution Canada’s (TDC’s) Cruise Academy – its first since the onset and conclusion of the pandemic – wrapped up in the Caribbean last week, giving 80 Canadian travel advisors a fresh take on the cruise industry’s latest products and sales trends.

The week-long training event, which PAX covered exclusively, unfolded in an adults-only environment: aboard Virgin Voyages’ vibrant Valiant Lady, a 2,700-passenger ship that first entered service in 2022.

TDC Cruise Academy class of 2024 on board Valiant Lady. (Pax Global Media)

Welcoming “First Mates” (Virgin’s term for travel advisors) from all the sectors of TDC’s network – this being, Marlin Travel, TravelPlus, Affiliates, Transat Travel and agent@home in English Canadaand Voyages Transat, Club Voyages, Voyages en Liberte, agent@externe in Quebec – the symposium laid the groundwork for a successful sales season.

READ MORE: On Location: TDC Cruise Academy sets sail with Virgin Voyages amid “booming” cruise sales

From supplier presentations to expert-led workshops, attendees – a mix of seasoned sellers and individuals cruising for the first time – got the inside scoop on today’s cruise ships and itineraries, as well as guidance on how to find a niche, create an action plan and provide better customer service.

TDC Cruise Academy graduates give suppliers a high five. (Pax Global Media)

The Academy, which also welcomed an all-star cast of suppliers, came as TDC’s cruise sales see double and triple-digit growth among its preferred partners.

READ MORE: On Location - “There’s a cruise for every client”: TDC Cruise Academy with Virgin Voyages wraps up in Caribbean

Suppliers gather on board Virgin Voyages' Valiant Lady for TDC Cruise Academy. (Pax Global Media)

“We’re seeing great engagement with Europe cruises, a lot of new-to-cruise customers, as well as new-to-brand,” said Sandra Wesson, director of product and industry relations at TDC. “It’s a great market to be in right now.”

From left: Sandra Wesson, director of product and industry relations at TDC; Sean Russo, Canada sales manager, Virgin Voyages. (Pax Global Media)

How did TDC Cruise Academy make a splash this year?

What’s it like to sail with Virgin Voyages, Sir Richard Branson’s bold, come-as-you-are cruise line?

PAX connected with TDC’s Sandra Wesson, as well as Sean Russo, sales manager for Canada at Virgin Voyages, at the conference to learn more.

Watch our exclusive video interview here!