Unlike the “floating cities” of the larger cruise lines, Cruise West’s ships average 120 passengers, making the experience about the destinations, not the ship, Porkolab says. The intimacy draws well-educated people who are there to learn about geography, history and nature. The after-dinner entertainment consists of guest lecturers rather than glitzy shows.
The cruise line just expanded its focus from Alaskan cruises to cruises to Mexico and the Sea of Cortez, and is embarking on a series of worldwide “Cruises of the Explorers” this spring, giving Porkolab plenty to sell.
“We are all about exploring the world,” she says. The 24 cruises, she notes, follow in the wake of such legendary sailors as Marco Polo and Magellan and can be taken singly or linked together in any number of sequences, including an all-inclusive one traversing the world in 330 days.
The position is the latest in a career that has been built upon enhancing the leisure pursuits of others. She previously directed customer relations and guest services for the Royal Caribbean cruise line and performed sales analysis for US Airways.
The economic downtown took its toll on the travel business, however, and Porkolab found herself exploring new territory for awhile, including serving at a Habitat for Humanity mission in Hungary.
People are beginning to invest in travel again, though, and Porkolab is primed for the return. But, she notes, there’s a difference this time. They want their investment to yield unforgettable memories, such as her recollection of a cruise of the Columbia and Snake rivers that took a jet boat into Hell’s Canyon, and the fun of watching a group of mature men sitting in the back, “knowing they’re going to get sprayed…they were having the time of their lives.”