For Carnival Cruise Line’s Cindy Chau, promoting one of the world’s most recognizable cruise brands represents a far different career path from her former pre-travel role: while she currently deals with ports of call, Chau once helped customers make phone calls, working as a sales representative in Rogers’ mobile phone division.
Now nearly two decades into her travel career, Chau got her first travel experience in the hotel sector, when she landed a job as a front desk agent at the Comfort Inn Hotel’s Vancouver International Airport location, which soon lead to a series of roles under the TravelBrands umbrella, starting with Holiday House and, later, Encore Cruises.
Joining Carnival in 2013, Chau is currently the cruise line’s business development director for Western Canada. Based in Vancouver, Chau represents Carnival to both the travel trade and consumers, ensuring that the cruise line stays top of mind for travellers planning their next cruise holiday.
“I visit travel agencies and update them on all that is going on with Carnival Cruise Line,” she said. “I also conduct webinars and live face-to-face trainings with them. I take travel agents and consumers on tours when the ships are in Vancouver/Victoria port and I also attend conferences with certain partners and conduct marketing with the travel agencies.”
This week, PAX checks in with Chau on early travel memories, a lucky purchase and an unexpected dinner guest in Cuba.
PAX: What are three essential items you always travel with?
Cindy Chau (CC): My hair straightener that keeps my hair calm; a hair tie, as I just seem to always lose them; and my flip flops - I can never go anywhere without my pair of flip flops! Comfort is everything.
PAX: What are some of your favourite vacation spots?
CC: Hawaii - all the islands are a favorite, but Honolulu hands down; Taiwan - I just love eating and their food is the best!; Dublin – I had so much fun there!
PAX: What's your favourite airport and why?
CC: My favorite airport is YVR, because I am always so happy to come home and be greeted by both the Canadian hospitality and the nature path when you are walking to customs.
PAX: What do you love about your job? The travel industry?
CC: I love this industry because it has given me the chance to travel and experience things that I never thought I would have seen. Through work and leisure, I have been to many places but there are many more places for me to visit and explore. Also, the people in this industry are all just so happy and there are very few jobs where you can actually say that you love it - in this job, I can say that!
PAX: What was the first vacation you ever took?
CC: My first ever vacation I took was with my mom back to Hong Kong to visit our relatives there. It was memorable because while I was only four years old, I remember taking this large plane and the flight attendant was so kind to me by supplying a whole bunch of toys and a colouring book. I also remember there was endless food coming to us the entire time while on the plane! I just loved the plane ride so much … and the visit with my relatives was fun, too!
PAX: What's the biggest splurge you've ever made on a trip?
CC: My biggest splurge I purchased on a trip was these two jade mystical animals. My husband and I bought matching ones: we were told that it would give us good fortune and good health – it hasn’t failed us yet!
PAX: Most memorable food/meal you ever ate while travelling and where you ate it?
CC: When we I went to China with my sister and her husband at the time, we went to this restaurant and he ordered the most exotic foods on the menu, so we ended up with snake, turtle soup, snails, and crickets on the table. I didn’t eat much at that dinner because I wasn’t adventurous enough to try them all.
PAX: What are your hidden talents?
CC: I can curl my tongue and stick it out. I didn’t know not everyone can do that!
PAX: When flying, window shade up or down?
CC: It doesn’t matter to me because I’m an aisle person.
PAX: What's your funniest travel anecdote?
CC: My funniest travel story was when I was in Cuba with two of my closest girlfriends and we were eating dinner outside; I was sitting on one side with my friend while our other girlfriend was sitting across from us. As we were eating, we saw something land on her shoulder, but it was kind of dark so we both couldn’t see what it was. My friend froze and asked us what it was, because our faces told her that there was something there. We finally called the waiter over and, with our frantic faces, told him there was something and pointed at her shoulder. He laughed at all of us – my friend was screaming “get it off!” as he told us it was just a tiny frog that landed on her shoulder. We laughed but she was still screaming, so the waiter just brushed it off her shoulder. She was pretty freaked out, but we couldn’t stop laughing!
PAX: What should travel agents be aware of right now in regards to Carnival?
CC: We have a brand-new ship named Carnival Panorama that will be sailing from Long Beach starting this December on the Mexican Riviera seven-day round trip all year long. We haven’t had a new ship in the West coast in a very long time, so please support her! We also have our first of two XL ships that will be run on LNG (liquid natural gas) coming in August 2020. She is named the Carnival Mardi Gras and will have a capacity of 5,200 passengers plus the first roller coaster at sea! Our first ship ever with Carnival was named Mardi Gras, so we are so happy that we are bringing this name back into our fleet!
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