Michelle Palma, Executive Vice President North America for Uniworld Boutique Cruises and the President and CEO of Travelonly, Gregory Luciani were on hand at Toronto Pearson Airport this week to help kick off a three-week Eastern European Uniworld cruise adventure and support TravelOnly’s Travel Advisors who are taking their friends, family and clients on Uniworld SS Beatrice’s Bucharest to Budapest sailing.
Joining Palma and Luciani were Mary de Almeida and Pat Probert from the Bob Family Travel Team as they coordinated the collection of over 1,000 pounds of donated necessities.
Many of these items will be distributed to the volunteers at Bucharest’s North Railway Station, who are providing assistance and aid to hundreds of escaping Ukrainian refugees who have sought shelter outside of their worn torn country.
Items collected for this mission include medical supplies, female personal care items, toys, diapers, baby formula, personal care items for children and clothes for babies, toddlers and older children.
These items have been collected from close to a hundred of their clients and other TravelOnly agents who they are escorting on their Danube group sailing. This sailing includes stops in countries that share a border with Ukraine.
The President of the Mississauga Rotary is travelling with the group and has made a generous contribution of suitcases filled with teddy bears to this humanitarian cause.
Children who have had to leave their toys behind will be provided with these comforting teddy bears when they arrive at the train station after having left their war-torn homes.
Mary de Almeida, Manager/Travel Advisor at Bob Family Travel Team recalls that the team has been involved in several aid missions on their trips and every time they have asked their clients to help, their clients have always been there and have gone above and beyond of what has been asked.
De Almeida commented that “this trip will be one of the most significant ones to date and we cannot wait to personally take these supplies to the families displaced by this devastating and horrible war in Ukraine. Representing so many of our clients who donated so much and being able to see where some of these donations will end up, will be both heart wrenching and heartwarming. We will do whatever we can to help make a difference in the lives of some of those that are suffering due to the war.”
Probert said he is eager to go to the train station to personally meet some of the refugees who have made the long trek from their homes in Ukraine to Bucharest and to help wherever he can when the donations are made.
Joining Probert at the train station will be some of his Ukrainian friends Zenon, Stefanie, Roman and Kim who are travelling with the Uniworld group and who still have family back home in Ukraine. All four will act as interpreters for the group.
Uniworld made it clear that it was grateful to be part of the endeavor and provided the luggage tags for the donation suitcases, the banner, airport transfers and donated items as well.
Uniwworld’s Michelle Palma said she could not miss the opportunity to be at the airport and provide the group with a sign for them to carry showing Uniworld’s support for their cause.
The river cruise company also picked up the entire group when they landed in Bucharest and had buses big enough to handle all the extra suitcases filled with supplies.
Palma said that being a partner with Pat and Mary and their loyal Uniworld clients in support of Ukraine was very important.
TravelOnly’s Gregory Luciani said giving back and supporting the efforts of this team on this endeavor and to see everyone off on this amazing trip was inspirational.
Luciani commented that he was looking forward to the photos that will be posted on social media in support of Ukraine as many of TravelOnly’s Associates and Affiliates support charities around the world.
And he observed that “this is just another fine example of TravelOnly’s agents rising up to the cause, time and time again as the need arises. As the world gets back to travelling, it will be easier to connect directly with those that need our help the most.”
Probert said to stay tuned for the personal images of how this mission will help a displaced mother, child, family who are citizens of the world as we all are and who have nothing to do with this unwanted and uncalled for war yet have become victims of it.
In addition to donated supplies Probert and de Almeida are also taking a number of cash donations from many friends and clients to personally hand out to displaced families they meet in Romania.
Probert explained that the group will carry on along the Danube and will find more Ukraine families in need as they cruise through Croatia, Serbia, Bulgaria and Hungary before the group heads on to Vienna and Prague and they will help displaced Ukrainians along the trip.
And he said that he would not be surprised if some clients end up leaving their entire suitcases for those in need, by the time the trip ends.
In The Photo
Seen in the photo, from l to r, are Michelle Palma, Executive Vice President, Field Sales Uniworld; Mary de Almeida CTC Bob Family Travel Team – TravelOnly Inc.; and Greg Luciani, President & CEO of TravelOnly