Expedia hiring for Tampa cruise ship center

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A new outpost for Expedia CruiseShip Centers in Tampa is looking to hire 20 vacation consultants and will be booking trips to Cuba.

Although the office at 2307 S. Dale Mabry Highway was quietly set up in January, a grand opening is planned on the evening of April 6 with members from theSouth Tampa Chamber of Commerce, said Rob Steinfeld, the office manager and franchise owner.

The new hires will essentially be travel agents who “help plan our clients’ cruise of land vacations,” Steinfeld said. Their responsibilities will include planning everything from flights, cruises, hotels and insurance. “They don’t need to have experience. We do all the training.”

However, the vacation consultants “must be outgoing and have a pretty good network,” Steinfeld said. Expedia CruiseShip Centers, a division of Washington-based Expedia Inc. (NASDAQ: EXPE), sends representative to schools, churches and over-55 communities to promote cruise vacations.

The Tampa office will allow new hires to work part-time or full-time, either in the office or from home. Consultants will also get travel perks, such as being invited on ship inspections and travel seminars sponsored by cruise line.

“We work very closely with Carnival and are excited that they will begin servicing Cuba,” Steinfeld said. “We also have a few other tour operators that we work with that are offering educational travel opportunities to Cuba.”

Miami-based Carnival Corp. & plc was granted approval to begin travel to Cuba starting May 1 from PortMiami on Carnival’s Fathom cruise line brand. It marks the first time in more than 50 years that the island nation has allowed a U.S. cruise line into its ports. Tampa Bay is home to the third largest Cuban-American population in the country and two major airlines — JetBlue Airways (NASDAQ: JBLU) and Southwest Airlines (NYSE: LUV) — are vying for the chance to operate flights between Tampa International Airport and Havana.

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