By Kathleen Schiop

One of the things everyone looks forward to is a great vacation. We work hard, and we want to play hard and enjoy our leisure time off. But, who wants to spend hours at a computer comparing prices and trying to find the best vacation bang for their buck? And, who wouldn’t like a singularly unique travel experience especially tailored for their interests and budget?

That’s where Guy and Linda Miller come to the rescue. The Millers are professionals representing Cruise Planners-American Express Travel, a nationwide franchise with more than 1,000 offices specializing in everything from weekend getaways to week- and even month-long cruises and more. In addition to cruises, as a Cruise Planners franchisee, the Millers also can handle options ranging from airfare, transfers and hotels to individual, family and group (including corporate) cruise bookings and shore excursions.

With more than 250 custom packages designed for travel almost anywhere in the world, Cruise Planners can literally offer something for everyone. Whether it’s a few-day cruise to the Caribbean, or longer cruises to Alaska or Canada, or river cruising in Europe or Asia, the Millers probably have a package that will be perfect for you.

And, the local Cruise Planners franchisees say that they are dedicated to finding the best value for your vacation dollar.

As Linda puts it, “We love to travel ourselves, and with our expertise, we can help our customers enjoy their travel experience. That’s the main reason we got into this field.”

Originally educators who moved here from New Jersey, Guy and Linda and their daughter Ashley moved to New Tampa a year and a half ago. They noticed that there was a lack of travel services in the area, and turned their love of travel into a business by purchasing their Cruise Planners franchise in September of 2012.


The Cruise Planners Experience

So what’s the difference between Cruise Planners and do-it-yourself, online travel vendors? As Guy explains it, “The vendors offer only what you can see online, and you can spend a lot of time and effort trying to find exactly what you want. Sometimes the options you want are not going to be available, which can be frustrating and time consuming.” He adds, “But, with our service, we offer numerous options and we do the research for you, so you don’t waste your time.”

Linda also notes that Cruise Planners is paid by the vendors the company represents — “not by our customers, so there are never any fees involved for our services.” And, she adds that they get emails at least every week from all of their vendors advising them of each cruise line’s latest special and discounts. For example, Linda mentioned a Norwegian Cruise Line special that ended March 23 which offered fall cruises for families with a 50-percent discount for adults and free cruises for children. In addition, Cruise Planners offers discounts for seniors, retirees, repeat cruisers, the military and Florida residents, just to name a few. If you can plan ahead, Linda says you should book your reservation as early as possible to give them the opportunity to look for the best possible deals.

But, perhaps the most important difference of all between working with Cruise Planners and booking your vacation online is that even if you somehow get a better deal on Priceline or Expedia, etc., what happens if there’s a problem with your reservation when you arrive?

“We’re your single point of contact when you book with us,” Guy says. “We have tremendous resources at our disposal to fix any problems with your trip. But, if you booked it online and something goes wrong, you’ll find it a lot harder to even speak to the same person twice, much less have anyone working on your behalf to fix the problem.”


Insuring Peace Of Mind

Speaking about losing your reservation or even your vacation, whether it be from an unexpected crisis in the family, weather, or issues beyond control, not only are Linda and Guy your personal advisors, but Cruise Planners also sells inexpensive trip insurance through Allianz Travel Insurance, which offers up to 100-percent reimbursement for your prepaid, usually non-refundable expenses for a covered reason for cancelling. It also allows you to rebook your cruise for up to two years and offers coverage for trip interruptions, missed connections, delays, baggage problems, medical costs incurred during your trip and more.

The recent incidents involving Carnival Cruise Lines are a perfect example of why it pays to have insurance for your cruise. The Millers say that Carnival, which obviously is now offering some great deals, has been doing everything possible to recover from those incidents. The cruise line is even introducing a beautiful, new, state-of-the-art ship to be based out of the Port of New Orleans.


And, What A Selection!

So, whether you’ve always wanted to see the Pyramids of Egypt, or cruise to exotic Asian locales like China or Thailand or Bora Bora, experience a romantic river cruise along the French countryside or to the spectacular Medeival village of Durnstein, Austria, Cruise Planners has amazing packages for all of those and more!

Cruise Planners can book all of the top cruise lines, including Royal Caribbean, Norwegian, Holland America, Carnival, river cruises by Viking River Cruises and Avalon Waterways and many more, Guy and Linda can suggest the cruise that will best meet your needs for your family or your business. Among the many advantages of booking a cruise with Cruise Planners is the agency’s access to low fares and special amenities on thousands of sailings and tour departures. The Millers accept all major credit cards, and specialize in reunions, weddings, clubs and associations.

And, perhaps best of all is that all of this personalized service is just a phone call away. Cruise Planners-American Express is a licensed, bonded, and insured mobile travel agency. In other words, Guy and Linda are happy to come to you!

Cruise Planners representatives are members of CLIA (Cruise Line International Assn.), NACOA (National Assn. of Cruise Oriented Agencies), and ASTA (American Society of Travel Agents).

You can contact Guy and Linda Miller at the local Cruise Planners franchise at 994-5500 or visit online at

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