Two weeks ago, while sailing on Holland America’s Eurodam, I had a chance to sit down with an honest to goodness port expert. Her name is Danielle Moore, and she is employed by Holland America. Holland America’s Port Experts are not the same as the “port shopping guide” you may have seen on HAL or other cruise lines. Port Experts are now found on every Holland America ship on every sailing.
Take a dash of Indiana Jones, a sprinkle of forest ranger and a good base of Julie McCoy from The Love Boat and you get Danielle, a life loving ball of energy from Northwest Arkansas. Ever since the 4th grade, she wanted to travel the world and lead others with her passion. Having spent time as a tour director in Alaska with Holland America, she went on to Tauck World, became an ITMI certified tour director and even took groups of students to Europe. She applied to be the tech-spert with Holland America during the Signature of Excellence renovations teaching Microsoft sponsored courses onboard, but soon found her lack of shyness and ability to speak to strangers in groups large and small were more suited to the port expert position.
What does a port expert on Holland America do? Consider the fact that between 40-60% of the passengers that board a HAL cruise have no idea what they are going to be do in the various ports of call and you’ll understand the value of a Holland America port expert. As I sat and watched one day, lines of people came to her desk asking questions about our sailing’s ports. Patiently Danielle listened to each story and question (no matter how many times she heard it) before giving her expert recommendation. Sometimes it was for a HAL shore excursion, sometimes it was a walking tour on their own, sometimes it was a validation of a guest’s plans, etc. For Grand Turk, I saw her recommend one place to visit for someone who casually mentioned his photography hobby and at other times she told more guests that the HAL shore excursions they had planned to purchase were not right for them.
Danielle explained she is not commissioned nor pressured to push any product, vendor or venue. However, Cruise Director Jason Venner had told me earlier in the week that shore excursion sales had increased since the introduction of the port expert. While people may be skeptical of someone sitting at a desk wanting to sell them something, they soon learned with Danielle that they had a person who wanted to listen to them, get to know them and recommend the right experience for them. She seemed to share our philosophy that it is never a good idea to recommend a bad experience no matter how “cheap” it may be.
Danielle loves to find the silver lining in every destination. While some ports may not be that exciting or sexy, Danielle was always able to find an experience that exceeded the expectations of many. She wants guests to feel happy and empowered by their decision. Would you be interested in meeting Danielle, and honest to goodness port expert on Holland America, yourself? You will find her this summer in Alaska cruising on Zuiderdam. She told me that she was excited about the coming season because she gets to visit one of her favorite ports…Skagway. If you would like to go, give us a call and we can help you.
Chuck and Laura Flagg own The Flagg Agency in Canton, GA and our number is 770-355- 9569
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We help people find a travel experience that matches both their wants AND their needs.