Looking to polish your Spanish, hobnob with artists, or learn to edit photos on your Mac? There's a cruise for that.
Cruises have long appealed to both the cost conscious and the adventurous. Now, a growing demand for off-the-beaten-path travel experiences has given rise to a new breed of cruise, which demands specialized knowledge and high-touch service for would-be adventurers. That's where you come in--as a cruise specialist.
Demand is soaring
Five years ago, Norwalk, Connecticut, travel company Tauck offered no specialty cruises. This year, it offers seven, including a French culinary cruise on the Rhone River. Overall, in North America 17.2 million passengers cruised in 2012. That number is expected to grow to 17.6 in 2013, according to the Cruise Lines Industry Association.
And there's (almost) nothing to stop you...
For only a few thousand dollars and a few weeks spent wading through the accreditation process, virtually anyone can become a travel specialist.
...or anyone else, for that matter.
Competition is steep. In 2011, more than 67,000 Americans were employed as travel agents, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. A cruise specialist is going to have to distinguish their business from the crowd to be successful.
Don't expect angels
Or venture capitalists. Travel agencies tend to be bootstrapped, mom-and-pop endeavors.
Watch out for major players
Cruise Planners and CruiseOne are the dominant competitors.
Ideal prior job?
Sales, sales, sales
Luxury set: an expensive, high-end tour, with lavish spa or gourmet dining
JULIE STRICKLAND covers start-ups, small businesses, and entrepreneurial endeavors of all kinds for Inc. Her work has been published in Brooklyn Based and City Limits in New York, the Free Times in Columbia, SC, Real Travel Magazine in London, and Daegu Pockets in South Korea. She lives in New York City. @Jules5168