Candice McDonaldJob at rail yard leads to Salmon Berry Tours

Briefly describe business:
Salmon Berry Travel & Tours is an Alaskan-owned and operated company providing land-based tours in Southcentral Alaska and itinerary planning statewide. Tour specialties include small van and multi-day van tours, including fully guided day trips.

Started nine years ago, the company is located in downtown Anchorage and operates year-round.

When did you first become involved with the visitor industry?
Seeking a job in the tourism industry, I landed a position working for Holland America/Grayline of Alaska as a cruise supervisor at the rail yard in downtown Anchorage. I worked for the McKinley Explorer rail division for nearly two years.

How is your business affected by the cruise industry?
During the summer, we sell land-based tours to clients who didn’t book a pre-existing excursion and are either embarking or disembarking on a cruise. In winter, much of our business comes from tourists traveling to Alaska because they previously visited on a cruise. I have met individuals who have been on as many as 14 Alaska cruises.

How did you get your start with the cruise industry?
Though I don’t work directly in the cruise industry, working for Holland America/Grayline of Alaska provided me with inspiration to open my own tour company. As a cruise supervisor, I scheduled tour guides, wait staff, cooks and bartenders on the train. It was during that time I learned I wanted a job which allowed for direct interaction with Alaska visitors.

What’s the best part of your job?
As a life-long Alaskan, I am proud of where I come from and I love to share it with visitors. It is great to meet new people, be involved with helping to plan vacations and even take part in tours and excursions myself.

What’s your favorite cruise passenger story? 
I met an 80-year-old travel agent who had worked in the cruise industry for over 40 years and was traveling on an Alaska cruise with her grandchildren. It was amazing to encounter her extreme wealth of knowledge about cruise ships. She could recall numerous ship names, what specific cabins were shaped like and her favorite sides of certain ships. She was very detailed when recommending certain ships to her clients and so excited to be bringing her grandchildren on one of the ships.

What should Alaska do to better support/protect the visitor/cruise industry?
I am very optimistic about the future cruise and tourism industries. I hope that, as a group, we can all continue to see the benefits of tourism in the cruise industry and make sure we are all working together.

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