Cruise Planners/American Express, the nation’s largest home-based travel agent franchise network in the cruise industry, reached out to the local veteran community on July 28 with an event to celebrate the donation of a Cruise Planners franchise worth more than $11,000 and the announcement of the company’s year-long charitable partnership with Royal Caribbean International and the Fisher House Foundation.

In late 2008, Cruise Planners hosted a nationwide franchise giveaway to celebrate the launch of the company’s CP Cares program, which provides veterans with more than $2,500 in discounts toward purchasing a franchise. As the deserving recipient of the franchise, Air Force veteran Chris Silman was presented with the “key” to his new business as well as a $500 donation towards his marketing efforts by Cruise Planners Co-founder and CEO Michelle Fee. In addition, Royal Caribbean International matched the contribution for a combined donation of $1,000.

Cruise Planners also announced “Voyages for Veterans,” its yearlong charitable partnership with Royal Caribbean International and the Fisher House Foundation, a charity that provides no-cost housing to families of veterans who are undergoing extended medical treatment at VA medical centers. Cruise Planners and Royal Caribbean executives kicked-off the partnership by presenting the foundation with a $2,000 donation. In addition, Fee announced that charitable efforts will continue into next year with the companies donating $50 for every booking made through a Cruise Planners agent on select Royal Caribbean Voyages for Veterans sailings throughout 2010.

“Cruise Planners believes in bringing positive impact to our industry, customers and the community that we’ve called home for our entire 15 years in business,” said Fee. “Not only is it our civic responsibility, it is our privilege to honor those that serve our country.”

Event attendees included representatives from Broward County’s Veteran Services and members of the Veterans of Foreign Wars.

“Companies like Cruise Planners and Royal Caribbean set the bar for social responsibility,” said Marjorie Valdes, public affairs specialist for the Miami VA Healthcare System and Fisher House Foundation representative. “Much of what the Fisher House Foundation accomplishes is a direct result of charitable contributions, and we are so honored to be the recipient of their generosity.”