Boston-based World Travel Holdings and Vancouver-based Expedia CruiseShipCenters have been named Carnival Cruise Lines’ “Travel Agencies of the Year” for 2009.

World Travel Holdings and Expedia CruiseShipCenters were selected from more than 30,000 cruise-selling travel agencies throughout the U.S. and Canada. Candidates must demonstrate the ability to grow as a business partner, as well as exhibit exceptional professionalism, enthusiasm and innovation in sales and marketing techniques.

Joni Rein, Carnival’s vice president of worldwide sales, noted that the two winners, while equally deserving candidates, follow distinctly different business models.

World Travel Holdings, co-founded by Brad and Jeff Tolkin in 2005, takes a multi-faceted approach, owning and/or operating some of the top cruise Web sites, including Cruise411.com, CruisesOnly.com, and Cruises.com, as well as two of the most successful home-based agencies in CruiseOne and Cruises Inc.

Established in 1987, Expedia CruiseShipCenters leverages one of the most recognizable names in travel and is highly regarded for its wide-ranging technology expertise.  In addition to its top-rated booking engine, Expedia CruiseShipCenters operates 116 retail locations in Canada as well as a franchise model in the U.S. and a successful home-based agency network with more than 2,600 highly trained cruise consultants.

Rein noted that while World Travel Holdings and Expedia CruiseShipCenters take varying business approaches, one constant is their commitment to innovation and superior service provided to their clients. Because of this, both companies reported record Carnival bookings for the past year.

“Despite a challenging economy, these two agencies continue to thrive, investing in the latest technology and training and employing knowledgeable cruise professionals who go the extra mile to offer personalized, hands-on service to their clients,” she said.  “The entrepreneurial spirit, keen understanding of consumer trends, and strong support of the cruise industry have enabled World Travel Holdings and Expedia CruiseShipCenters both to become leaders in our industry,” she added.

David S. Crooks, World Travel Holdings’ senior vice president, product and operations, said, “Carnival Cruise Lines has always had a strong partnership with WTH but most importantly has consistently delivered a terrific product at extraordinary value for our customers.  In spite of a difficult economic climate, Carnival continued to deliver on their winning formula.   CruiseOne and Cruises Inc., as well as all the WTH brands, value our partnership with Carnival.  We sell the product with great confidence that our customers will have an experience that exceeds their expectations.”

Commented Michael Drever, CEO and founder of Expedia CruiseShipCenters, “Carnival is an important part of our Customers For Life strategy and receiving this award is a result of the strong partnership we have enjoyed for over 22 years.  In 2009, Expedia CruiseShipCenters significantly increased our investment in marketing, training and technology, which is why we continue to experience record sales growth and recognition as industry leaders.”

Carnival Cruise Lines is the largest and most popular cruise line in the world, with 22 “Fun Ships” operating voyages ranging from three to 15 days in length to The Bahamas, Caribbean, Mexican Riviera, Alaska, Hawaii, Panama Canal, Canada, New England and Europe.  Carnival also has two new ships on order -- the 130,000-ton Carnival Magic, which is scheduled for delivery in 2011, and a sister ship set to debut in 2012.