Turkish Airlines and Royal Caribbean International co-hosted a most interesting and informative trip to Istanbul last week – and it really was an educational visit highlighting the history and culture of the city. For some agents it was their first time flying with Turkish Airlines and they were not disappointed with the free baggage allowance of 30kg per passenger together with a free bar and a real high-quality airline meal.
The group stayed at the Rixos Pera Istanbul Hotel. Well located in the Pera district, this is truly luxurious accommodation with rooms well furnished with all the needed amenities. Breakfast was served in the rooftop restaurant with truly spectacular views over the city. Add a secluded courtyard complete with bar and a fine spa, which all of the agents enjoyed.
The visit to the Turkish Airlines flight training centre to see flight crew in training was most impressive. Incidentally the airline now has 17 Irish pilots.
Next it was off to see the airline’s catering centre that is operated by Turkish Do&Co. This company was established in 2007 as a 50/50 joint venture between Do&Co and Turkish Airlines and produces more than 65 million meals per annum for 60 airlines. Since they took over responsibility the customer satisfaction has increased from 49% to the current 96%. They cater for between 500 to 650 take-offs per day.
Part of the joint vision is to ensure that Turkish Airlines becomes one of the leading quality airlines of the world by using hospitality and onboard service as a marketing advantage.
Istanbul has so much to offer the visitor both from a historical and cultural perspective and the agents were given a fantastic range of visits to Sultanahmet, ‘the old city of Istanbul’, a walking tour taking in the Hippodrome, the Blue Mosque, the German Fountain, the magnificent Hagia Sophia and Tokapi Palace. Hagia Sofia is now the most visited monument in the world.
No trip would be complete without a visit to the Grand Bazaar so some retail therapy was availed of by many of the group.
Travel Counsellor Phyllis Walters said: “A big thank you to Onur… you are so passionate and proud of your product, you looked after us so well and nothing was too much trouble for you. Jenny, you are a credit to RCCL and such a great person. I really enjoyed the Rhapsody of the Seas visit and all the effort and information you gave us… and dinner in Giovanni’s Table was super.”
Rhapsody of the Seas, a Vision class ship from Royal Caribbean International was in port so led by Jenny Rafter the agents were invited for a shipboard visit including dinner onboard. Giovanni’s Table,one of the speciality restaurants on the ship, was the venue where a fine Italian menu was on offer.
Emer Thomas, SHGI, said: “I will be chatting with my sales teams on Wednesday and giving them all the super pointers I picked up.”
The highlight here was the impromptu music played by a very talented flautist, Marla from the Philippines.
Mary King, Travelsavers, said: “I was delighted to have been invited on a three-night trip to Istanbul hosted by Agne Tours, Turkish Airlines and Royal Caribbean. It was a great few days packed full of culture and information and as I had never been to Istanbul it was a great revelation. From flying with the wonderful Turkish Airlines and visiting the Rhapsody of the Seas with a mosque, two palaces, Turkish Airlines’ Flight Centre, a boat trip, and museums among the sightseeing we saw and did loads. A very worthwhile trip with a lovely bunch of people from our wonderful travel trade!”
The agents had a tour of the ship followed by an excellent presentation from RCI’s Jenny Rafter.
Sarah Cunningham, Dunlop Travel, got it right when she said: “It has been a great trip!”
The ground arrangements were handled by Serife Cetin from Agne Tours who left nothing to chance. She is anxious to work with the Irish trade and her email is [email protected]