For Oceania Cruises’ Cathy Denroche, a career in travel came about by way of a little inspiration from a close family member.
“My oldest sister was a travel agent for a very short while and I wanted to be just like her, so I begged Sears, who had just opened a downtown store and their new travel department to take me on as their receptionist,” Denroche recalls. “Those were the days in an interview, when asked the reason you wanted the job you could say ‘I want to travel around the world.’”
From that original receptionist role, Denroche quickly moved into the cruise sector, joining Princess Cruises “during the Love Boat days,” eventually moving on to Viking, Crystal and most recently, to Oceania, where she has worked since 2009.
Based in the West Vancouver neighbourhood of Horseshoe Bay, Denroche currently works as Oceania’s regional sales & marketing director, working with advisors throughout Western Canada to raise awareness of the cruise line’s offerings.
“I have always been extremely proactive with whatever I do,” Denroche said. “I work with some of the best travel advisors in the business – from new to senior, every level is important – from helping put a simple plan together to sell Oceania or host a cruise tea or afternoon or coffee party. Sometimes just listening to my partners is more important than asking for business and always trying to make the sale. True partnerships mean we’re there to support each other and, obviously to make a profit for Oceania. As far as I can tell, it works!”
This week, PAX checks in with Denroche on where she likes to recharge after a long trip abroad, where to sip the world’s best sangria and that one purchase she agonized over in Venice…
PAX: What are three essential items you always travel with?
Cathy Denroche (CD): Lipstick – a girl can’t live without it; eye cream – no matter where I go; my CPAP – yes, I snore - and its sooooo not attractive!
PAX: What are some of your favourite vacation spots?
CD: Saltspring Island & Tofino in British Columbia: it keeps me sane by getting away from the exotic travels. Just hanging out for awhile in my own backyard makes me happy. When anyone asks me this question, its hard for me to answer. I have travelled all over the world, from some of the most spectacular beaches in Tahiti to the depths of India and the plains of Kenya.
PAX: What’s your favourite airport and why?
CD: YVR. I love a lot of airports, but I’m so proud of Vancouver’s airport. I was born here and its such an amazing city to arrive in.
PAX: What do you love about your job? The travel industry?
CD: I’m extremely passionate and proud of my job. Every day is different and its not all rosy all the time, it’s hard work. But what I love most is my relationships with my partners and my other colleagues and with my guests. Ii never get tired of an advisor telling me when they’ve made their first booking on Oceania - that still thrills me!
PAX: What was the first vacation you ever took?
CD: My grandfather paid for our family to cruise on a “crossing” from Vancouver to South Hampton on the P&O Canberra. I was 13 going into grade 8 and it was the adventure of a lifetime. We shared bunkbed rooms and a shared bathroom with a lot of other guests – steerage class as we used to call it. The ship was elegant in those days and considered very posh (an old word from P&O). I will never forget our steward Trevor: playing hide and seek with us in the hallways. It’s funny what you remember – but in those days I can assure you it wasn’t about the food!
PAX: What’s the biggest splurge you’ve ever made on a trip?
CD: In Venice years ago while at Crystal Cruises, one of my colleagues and myself went to Venetia Studium, this little boutique full of silk lamps. I fell in love with one of them and it took all of eight hours (three trips back and forth) before I finally made the decision to buy it. I carried it in my hand luggage back to Vancouver and hid it in my closet for two years! I couldn’t face telling my husband! Yes, I was mortified at myself for spending that much on a lamp, but I finally brought it and it hangs in one of my hallways and is truly one of our favourite things in our house. To this day, when I’ve gone back to Venice, the shopkeeper still knows my name and I’m sure rolls her eyes. I am sure no one has ever taken eight hours to make a decision to buy a lamp, but its absolutely beautiful.
PAX: Most memorable food/meal you ever ate while travelling and where you ate it?
CD: Il Olivo Restaurant on Palma de Mallorca. An old olive mill turned into an Orient Express Hotel, sat perched on a cliff, overlooking a very dramatic seascape. Dubussy’s Clair de Lune was playing and it was heavenly. It was the best Sangria I have ever had!
PAX: What’s your biggest travel pet peeve?
CD: Delayed flights and lost luggage.
PAX: What are your hidden talents?
CD: I love to cook and thus the reason I’ve been on Weight Watchers for most of my life! I can’t help it…I love food!
PAX: Checked bag or carry-on?
CD: As I get older, I find I want to check luggage now , but I’ve been a carry-on kind of gal for years and I’m good at packing light! So, one week trips = carry on, anything over = checked!
PAX: When flying, window shade up or down?
CD: Always up! I’m a true Gemini so I need a lot of light and air. If someone’s watching a movie beside me though, I always consider them and am pretty flexible either way.
PAX: What's your funniest travel anecdote?
CD: One of my colleagues at the time – Tami Normann – entered a fashion show years ago on a ship and wouldn’t come out of the dressing room. She said the dress didn’t fit her properly and that it was too low-cut for her. When we coaxed her to at least see it, it was on backwards!
PAX: What should travel agents be aware of right now in regards to Oceania?
CD: That we’re a sure thing! This is a cruise line that includes the things that are most important to today’s travellers. We’re not all inclusive, but that’s by choice. Our slogan from day one has been “your world, your way” and its true: the choices you have on Oceania are yours to choose. The value for the experience is unsurpassed: being on a smaller ship with so much attention to detail, immersive itinerary-based destinations and the best food in the entire industry. After 10 years, I still feel as passionate about this product as I did the day I started. It’s such a great experience. Let me help you put a plan together and let me help you sell Oceania!
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