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Access Cruise opens doors in Miami and beyond

Signing new clients - Access Cruise's McKee (second from left) and McLaughlin (far right) ink a marketing representative arrangement with Rijeka officials at Cruise Shipping Miami
As the Miami representative for a couple leading European tour operators and an emerging Mediterranean port, the developer of the excursions for a new western Caribbean destination and the provider of strategic cruise industry sales support for a maritime security specialist and a technology innovator, Access Cruise has a varied and growing portfolio.

Led by veteran cruise line executive Shannon McKee, Access Cruise specializes in sales representation, new revenue streams, shore excursions, product and port development, new technologies, sales team training and RFP guidance. The team has expertise in vetting products and services, opening doors and helping clients navigate the different silos at the cruise lines.

Access Cruise offers 'expansive knowledge of international ports and destinations. We can bring a lot of value to clients and help ports deliver what cruise lines are looking for,' McKee said.

What sets her apart from other consultants, she believes, is her sales and marketing expertise. 'If you're looking for a sales person,' she said, 'I'm the one.'

McKee launched Access Cruise in 2010 after leaving Norwegian Cruise Line, where she spent 18 years in roles of progressive responsibility, ultimately as VP shore excursions and on-board revenue.

Her company's newest client is Rijeka, Croatia, signed at Cruise Shipping Miami last month. Access Cruise will market the emerging port—which has 2015 calls by Thomson and Crystal Cruises—to US-based lines. The account is led by Tracey McLaughlin, VP business development at Access Cruise.

Hired as a consultant to assess what shore excursions the new mainland Honduras destination Banana Coast should be offering, McKee not only developed the tour program but became a partner and investor. She plays an active role in marketing Banana Coast, which has 32 calls scheduled in 2014/15 and Holland America Line committed for 2015/16.

McKee distinguished Banana Coast from the island of Roatán in that it has lots of room to grow and a rich history on top of abundant natural assets. Christopher Columbus landed on his final voyage, the colonial town of Trujillo has a fort and pirate history and there is Garifuna culture, too. The 19th-century American adventurer William Walker, who tried to set up colonies in Central America and became the president of Nicaragua, was executed and buried in Trujillo. The banana business boomed before World War II.

Access Cruise developed all the excursions, which include beach breaks, ATV adventures, horseback riding and lagoon tours.

McKee's company also serves as the US representative for Tura Turizm, a leading tour operator in Turkey that's known for innovation, authenticity and pioneering new technology. One task is helping the award-winning operator diversify beyond the cruise industry into such areas as group travel.

Work for the Genoa-based tour operator/port agency Medov as it expands beyond Italy and the Mediterranean's French and Corsican ports includes helping distinguish its product offering and looking for new opportunities. Earlier this year Medov acquired a significant stake in TNM Corp., a leading South American tour operator and shipping agent.

Access Cruise provides strategic cruise industry sales support for Miami-based McRoberts Maritime Security, which offers integrated maritime security services and technologies, and for Digital Video Systems of Miramar, Fla., as it develops new customized content offerings for cruise lines.

Besides McLaughlin, a former shore excursion manager and product development manager for Carnival Cruise Lines, the Access Cruise team includes Alina Juliachs, director, product development, who brings shore excursion/product specialist experience from Norwegian and Cunard Line, and Puja Motiani, manager, special projects, who worked in shore excursion product development for Orient Lines while at Norwegian.