When Vicky Garcia walked right into a room, you knew it. Everyone current wished to catch the Cruise Planners COO for a chat and a photograph, and he or she made time for all of them.
The journey trade is mourning the lack of Garcia, 56, who died Aug. 14 after a protracted sickness. Many have recalled her as being an ardent advocate with a sort persona who by no means shied away from serving to others succeed. Many additionally recalled not simply Garcia herself however how she made people feel.
Vicky Garcia (left) and Michelle Fee on stage at a Cruise Planners occasion in 2018. Source: Michelle Fee
“That’s the essence of it — what did she make you feel like? Important,” stated Michelle Fee, founder and CEO of Cruise Planners and Garcia’s greatest good friend. “She made you feel vital, that is what she did. She made people feel vital. Everybody. It did not matter what you had been, who you had been. She gave you her time. And I hope I can simply dwell out a part of her legacy for her. I’m going to strive.”
Michelle Sutter, Holland America Line’s vp of North American gross sales and chief of employees, was a type of people who witnessed firsthand Garcia’s potential to make others feel welcome.
Sutter spent most of her early profession on the Canadian facet of the enterprise earlier than transitioning to the US about seven years in the past. Garcia was one of many first to make her feel really welcome.
“She made me feel particular and vital,” Sutter stated. “And after I learn how lengthy she knew different people, which was rather a lot longer than I knew her, I notice how she made me feel is how she made everybody feel no matter how lengthy she had or hadn’t recognized somebody.”
‘Everybody knew her and liked her’
Garcia’s profession within the trade spanned 30 years. She began as a cruise line reservations agent earlier than shifting into management roles with Royal Caribbean International and Norwegian Cruise Line.
It was throughout her time at Norwegian that Garcia first met Fee.
Garcia was working on the cruise line together with her then-girlfriend and future spouse, Carol Alexander, who had lengthy stated she deliberate to retire and turn out to be a Cruise Planners agent (she did simply that). At the time, Fee wanted any person to run her teams division, and he or she requested them if they’d any solutions. Garcia requested Fee if she might apply or if that will be a battle of curiosity.
“And I stated, ‘No, you are employed. Come in and we’ll determine the remainder of it out,'” Fee stated.
Vicky Garcia (left) and Michelle Fee at Machu Picchu. Source: Michelle Fee
That was 18 years in the past, in 2004. In 2013, Garcia grew to become a accomplice in Cruise Planners.
Fee stated Garcia was dedicated to equality. For instance, within the Cruise Planners workplace, nobody was ever known as an “worker.” At Garcia’s insistence, they had been often known as a “group member,” Fee stated.
Garcia, who was Cuban, was additionally a passionate advocate for variety, the LGBTQ neighborhood and elevating ladies.
“But all of that didn’t outline her,” Fee stated. “She wished to be outlined as any person who was a pacesetter, any person who helped make change. We feel like we have carried out that at Cruise Planners, construct an organization the place people can achieve life, and we had been going to assist them get there .That’s what she was most pleased with.”
Garcia was additionally dedicated to elevating funds for the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society (LLS) and was liable for elevating greater than $2 million for the society over time, each personally and with the assistance of trade executives she recruited for her mission.
Garcia selected the LLS as a result of so many have been affected by most cancers, Fee stated. Her principle was that if a remedy may very well be created for blood most cancers, a remedy may be discovered for different varieties of most cancers.
While Garcia labored onerous for her firm and causes, she additionally liked time and a vodka martini. Some of Fee’s favourite reminiscences of Garcia are from being on stage together with her at Cruise Planners occasions. Garcia would typically go off-script, pulling Fee and others into bits they’d to answer on the spot.
“There was the enjoyable, loopy facet that I believe I’m going to overlook probably the most, as a result of she all the time made me snort,” Fee stated. “She all the time took me out of my consolation zone, and I’ll eternally be grateful that I had 18 wonderful years together with her.”
Garcia was additionally remembered fondly by Cruise Planners franchise house owners.
“The factor that I believe strikes me probably the most about Vicky was that she was all the time a cheerleader for you,” stated Rick Carlson, who owns a franchise in Cape Cod, Mass. “You know, if there was ever a problem, she was there to assist assist and assist you see the positives, to have you ever look ahead.”
From proper, Vicky Garcia and her spouse Carol Alexander, with Corey Ratley and his husband Michael Consoli, who owns a Cruise Planners franchise in Atlanta. Source: Michael Consoli
Michael Consoli, who owns a franchise in Atlanta, met Garcia at a franchise coaching occasion when she began with Cruise Planners 18 years in the past. They instantly hit it off and deliberate their private holidays collectively. They even share their marriage ceremony day: Garcia and Alexander and Consoli his husband, Corey Ratley, had a double marriage ceremony ceremony.
Consoli described Garcia as fun-loving and energetic, an individual who liked the journey trade. He additionally described her as very unselfish, whether or not giving to charities or serving to the communities she lived in. Her assist of franchisees, each new and outdated, was notable.
“It’s an actual loss,” Consoli stated. “It’s a loss for the trade. It’s a loss for everyone who knew her. She was simply an icon. Everybody knew her and liked her.”