Montrose Travel, a California-based travel agency that was formed 53 years ago and has continually adapted its business model to meet consumers’ vacation needs, has been selected as Carnival Cruise Lines’ “Agency of the Year” for 2008.

Montrose Travel was selected from among more than 30,000 cruise-selling travel agencies throughout the U.S. and Canada. Travel agencies that demonstrate exceptional professionalism, enthusiasm, and innovation in sales and marketing techniques were nominated by Carnival’s business development managers who work in partnership with travel agents.

Carnival also recognized the following travel agencies as “Regional Agencies of the Year”:
• Southeast Region – Legendary Journeys (Sarasota, Fla.)
• Central Region - Nexion (Southlake, Texas)
• Northeast Region – Cruise Planners/Bogert (Williamsport, Penn.)
• Canadian Agency of the Year – Expedia CruiseShipCenters (Vancouver)

The following organizations were also recognized for excellence by Carnival:
• Strategic Partner of the Year: Signature Travel Network
• Partner of the Year – Western U.S. – Costco Travel
• Partner of the Year – Eastern U.S. – Cruise.com
• Canadian Tour Operator of the Year – Air Transat
• International Travel Agency of the Year – Foster & Ince Cruise World (Barbados)

“Carnival works with a wide range of travel agent partners – from traditional retail outlets to on-line travel sellers to home-based agencies – all of which possess their own exceptional skills and represent a variety of business models,” said Lynn Torrent, Carnival’s senior vice president of sales and guest services. “Montrose Travel is certainly a deserving candidate for the ‘Agency of the Year’ honor as they offer a high level of service as well as tremendous knowledge and enthusiasm for cruising,” she added.

Montrose Travel was founded as a small storefront travel agency in 1956 and has grown to become one of the travel industry’s largest and most successful companies, with more than $110 million in annual sales and 11 operating divisions housed in four self-owned buildings encompassing 40,000 square feet.

Although the family-owned company has grown tremendously by continually reinventing itself, one constant has been its commitment to personalized service, even in the advent of the Information Age, with teams dedicated to such areas as groups, leisure travel, honeymoons, credit card loyalty rewards programs, and corporate/incentive travel, among others.

Through the efforts of owners Joe and Julie McClure and Andi McClure-Mysza, and their talented 150-member team, Montrose Travel experienced a 73 percent sales increase over the past year through a combination of superior service, product knowledge, innovation and professionalism.

“We would like to congratulate Montrose Travel on being named our Agency of the Year and thank all of our travel agent partners who continue to support Carnival Cruise Lines and provide our guests with their valued expertise and service,” said Torrent.

Carnival is the largest and most popular cruise line in the world, with 22 “Fun Ships” operating voyages ranging from three to 16 days in length to The Bahamas, Caribbean, Mexican Riviera, Alaska, Hawaii, Panama Canal, Canada, New England, Europe, and Bermuda.

The line currently has two new ships scheduled for delivery between now and 2011. The first of those, the 130,000-ton Carnival Dream, is set to debut Sept. 21, 2009.