Cruise Planners/American Express was one of 40 travel agencies and organizations receiving a coveted “Globe Award” from Travel Impressions/American Express Vacations, one of the country’s largest tour operators selling destinations worldwide. Award recipients are selected based upon criteria including business growth, innovation and partnership.

The award was presented at the tour operator’s annual “Best of the Best” celebration held at the Fairmont Turnberry Isle Resort in Miami for more than 170 top travel agencies and organizations that book travel through Travel Impressions or American Express Vacations.

“This is truly out of this world,” said Vicky Garcia, SVP of Sales and Marketing of Cruise Planners/American Express, in reference to the string of awards recently won by the top-rated cruise franchisor. “We are, indeed, honored to receive such a wonderful award from our friends at Travel Impressions/American Express Vacations.”

The Globe Award win continues an impressive string of honors and awards bestowed upon the company in the past year. Just last month, Cruise Planners/American Express achieved the #1 ranking among all cruise agency franchises on Entrepreneur Magazine’s Franchise 500® list of the world’s top franchises for the sixth consecutive year. In September 2008, the company was honored with a Silver Magellan Award from Travel Weekly. Additional awards earned in 2008 included NCL’s President’s Elite Award (seventh straight year), and the American Express Travel 2007 Representative Excellence Award (fourth straight year). In February 2008, Cruise Planners was inducted into Carnival’s Pinnacle Club, while Royal Caribbean International also named Cruise Planners “Homebased Partner of the Year” in December 2007.

Costa Cruises is the largest Italian travel group and Europe’s favorite cruise line. For the past 60 years its ships have plied the seas of the world, offering the best in Italian style, hospitality and cuisine and providing dream holidays with the utmost in terms of fun and relaxation. Its fleet has a total of 12 ships, all flying the Italian flag, each with her own distinctive characteristics and unique style; together each year, they offer the chance to visit some 250 separate destinations in the Mediterranean, Northern Europe, the Baltic Sea, the Caribbean, South America, the United Arab Emirates, the Far East and the Indian Ocean. Two new vessels – the Costa Luminosa and Costa Pacifica – are due for delivery at the end of April and the end of May 2009, and will be christened together in Genoa on June 5 this year, while another three new liners are on order. By 2012 the Costa fleet will be 17 strong with total Guest capacity of approximately 46,400. Costa Cruises has been certified by RINA (Italian Shipping Register) with the BEST4, an integrated system of voluntary certification of corporate compliance with the highest standards governing social accountability (SA 8000), environment (UNI EN ISO 14001), safety (OHSAS 18001) and quality (UNI EN ISO 9001, 2000). Costa Cruises is an official partner of the WWF for the protection of the marine ecoregions of the Mediterranean, the Greater Antilles and Brazil.