Northeast Times

Cruise control couple

Jack and Joan Fin­ger­man work out of their Castor Gar­dens home. JENNY SWI­GODA / TIMES PHOTO

This hus­band-and-wife team’s in busi­ness to provide smooth sail­ing for folks who want to en­joy a slice of life at sea.

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Jack and Joan Fin­ger­man have gone on more than 30 cruises in the last 25 years and be­lieve they know what makes a good ex­per­i­ence.

The couple from Castor Gar­dens are now in the cruise busi­ness. They were re­cently ac­cred­ited as cruise and travel spe­cial­ists for Cruises Inc.

“We love cruis­ing and want to share it with the world,” Jack said.

Joan, who formerly worked in the day-care busi­ness, has been serving as a cruise and travel spe­cial­ist since Janu­ary 2010, hav­ing traveled to Fort Laud­er­dale for her ini­tial train­ing.

Jack re­tired in Decem­ber from the city, most re­cently work­ing for the Phil­adelphia Com­mis­sion on Hu­man Re­la­tions.

The couple took part in an in­tens­ive, four-day train­ing ses­sion in Oc­to­ber dur­ing a na­tion­al in­dustry con­fer­ence aboard the Al­lure of the Seas. The cruise took 6,400 pas­sen­gers and crew to the Carib­bean.

The train­ing cur­riculum in­cluded sales and mar­ket­ing sem­inars, “we­binars,” product brief­ings by ma­jor cruise lines, hands-on com­puter ori­ent­a­tion and on­board ship in­spec­tions.

The folks who run Cruises Inc. be­lieve that spe­cial­ists such as the Fin­ger­mans, rather than gen­er­al ser­vice travel agents, are the go-to people be­cause the cruise in­dustry is so large and com­plex.

“We get all the latest in­form­a­tion and deals,” Joan said. “If the rate lowers, we’ll call the cli­ent and let them know, and they’ll get a re­fund.”

Speak­ing from ex­per­i­ence, the Fin­ger­mans be­lieve any­one who has not been on a cruise is miss­ing out on something spe­cial.

Cruis­ing is re­lax­ing, gives people a chance to see the world and takes trav­el­ers on a fantasy and to a para­dise they have nev­er ex­per­i­enced.

The on­board ser­vice is ex­cep­tion­al.

“It’s easy to get hooked,” Joan said. “It’s a great way to travel.”

One bar­ri­er to cruis­ing can be fear of get­ting sea­sick, but Jack and Joan ex­plained that ships are so big these days that trav­el­ers are gen­er­ally im­mune to ill­ness.

“It’s not a ferry boat,” Jack said.

An­oth­er bar­ri­er to cruis­ing can be the cost, but the Fin­ger­mans said they can find sav­ings for cli­ents. Travel, lodging, meals and en­ter­tain­ment are paid up front, usu­ally a little at a time.

Middle-class people make up a large per­cent­age of cruise pas­sen­gers.

“The myth is that cruises are ex­pens­ive,” Jack said, adding that souven­irs, al­co­hol­ic drinks, side tours, pho­to­graphs and gra­tu­it­ies are ad­ded ex­penses. “You don’t have to be wealthy to have a nice va­ca­tion.”

Al­though the eco­nomy has gen­er­ally been lousy for the last five years or so, the Fin­ger­mans see the cruise in­dustry as be­ing a sur­viv­or.

“There are thir­teen ships be­ing built for 2012 and 2013,” Jack said.

In­di­vidu­als, couples and fam­il­ies who have nev­er been on a cruise of­ten va­ca­tion in the same spots, like the Jer­sey shore.

“The world is lar­ger than Ocean City, N.J.,” Jack said. “You can go any­where in the world, just about.”

The Fin­ger­mans can help cli­ents se­lect cab­in types, cruise ships, des­tin­a­tions, lengths of trips and de­par­ture dates and ports.

For people who don’t like to fly, they can drive to ports in Bal­timore, Man­hat­tan and Bay­onne, N.J.

Fam­il­ies can cruise to­geth­er, be­cause ships of­fer so many activ­it­ies for chil­dren. The Fin­ger­mans took their adult son Eric on his first cruise when he was an ad­oles­cent, and in Au­gust joined their 17-month-old grand­son Mat­thew on a cruise to Ber­muda. And for people trav­el­ing without young­sters, the oth­er kids on the ship are usu­ally well be­haved.

Ships are also ac­com­mod­at­ing to people with phys­ic­al dis­ab­il­it­ies. There are wheel­chairs, scoot­ers, lifts and even hos­pit­al beds on board.

“There’s no need to stay home. All your needs are met. People with dis­ab­il­it­ies are not miss­ing out,” Joan said.

Hon­ey­moon cruises have been pop­u­lar for many years, and the Fin­ger­mans have a way for fam­ily and friends of the bride and groom to make it hap­pen. En­gaged couples can re­gister on­line, and loved ones can con­trib­ute to­ward the va­ca­tion in $25 in­cre­ments, pay­able by cred­it card.

At the wed­ding re­cep­tion, there will be a souven­ir photo al­bum dis­play­ing the names of those who donated.

“In­stead of giv­ing them dishes that pile up in cab­in­ets, you can give them a free hon­ey­moon,” Jack said. ••

 

Cruise con­trol…

Start­Frag­ment

The Fin­ger­mans do not charge a fee for their ser­vice. In­stead, they get com­mis­sions from Cruises Inc.

For more in­form­a­tion, call Jack and Joan Fin­ger­man at 215-941-7661 or vis­it www.valu-cruises.com  

You can reach at twaring@bsmphilly.com.

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