Meet the top Canadian Virgin Voyages First Mates

The final night of Virgin Voyages’ First Mate Spectacular Soiree recognizing the cruise line’s top 100 First Mates (travel advisors) onboard Scarlet Lady this week cumulated with a special awards gala and an important save-the-date for 2025.

“We have already nailed down the date for next year,” said John Diorio, vice president of North American sales for Virgin Voyages to a round of applause. “It’s done. Next year’s soiree date is Jan. 8-12, 2025. It’ll be on Valiant Lady. We want you to know first, that is the date we’re going to be celebrating our top 100. We’re excited to do this on Valiant Lady next year.”

During the second annual First Mates Ink Awards ceremony, a select number of octopus-shaped trophies were handed out to celebrate the top 10 First Mates from North America as well as some individual sales achievements.

Canadian wins

Canadian First Mate Sean Mills of Revolution Travel, who secured a spot in the top 30, was recognized with a Sales Navigator award. The award is given to a First Mate who has exponentially grown their Virgin Voyages bookings within their first year of working with the brand.

“It was a new product and it looked very interesting so I started doing their training and looked at what they were offering and I was intrigued by it,” Mills said sharing his success story. “I started selling a couple [Virgin Voyages] trips and I got invited on a FAM trip. I went on that and fell in love with it. It became my No. 1 favourite cruise line personally and it became super easy to sell after I had been on it.”

The other Canadian advisor to accomplish top 100 status was Matt Houtby of Vacations for Canadians. This is the first year that Canadian advisors have cracked the top 100.

“We’re very proud to have these two amazing Canadian First Mates joining us on this soiree,” Sean Russo, sales manager, Canada, for Virgin Voyages told PressToday. “These past four days have been an amazing experience with the blending of US and Canadian agents, sharing information, camaraderie and best practices.”

Making the top 100

As for travel advisors who are interested in making the top 100 for next year, Russo offered some suggestions.

“I would expect at least 10 Canadian First Mates next year and for those that are interested in coming here, I would encourage them to reach out. We will set some time to build goals together,” he said. “We will, as we say at Virgin Voyages, make ship happen together. Every single First Mate in Canada can achieve these goals. It’s really about planning, understanding the brand and we’re here to help them grow and support them.”

Meanwhile, Houtby said he was attracted to Virgin’s fresh take on cruising and garnered a lot of clients by creating video content about what sets the cruise line apart while he was onboard.

“I did a lot of videos deck by deck to introduce clients to the brand… I would do videos from the theatre and talk about the entertainment, videos from the galley and talk about how they do dining, how nothing sits under a heat lamp, how there’s not a buffet,” he shared. “I would say [agents] should get on one of the ships because it’s so much easier to speak from experience. Get there, experience it and then you can talk about your own experience and feedback.”

As another incentive to kick off the year, Diorio encouraged First Mates to try and win a trip to Necker Island, Sir Richard Branson’s luxury private island in the British Virgin Islands, by locking in some bookings this month.

“Every booking in January qualifies you for a chance to go to Necker Island. It’s a great contest,” he said.