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Mark & Helen Rigby, Cruise Planners

“We Don’t Just Do Cruises, but We Do ... DO Cruises!”

Mark Rigby’s British accent must certainly contribute to his success as a travel advisor. If anything were to go amiss while you’re thousands of miles from home, his Mancunian lilt would put you right at ease. Conversely, whomever Mark requests a solution from must feel compelled to provide one at once. There is authority in the British accent. This is only to be expected from a country that has ruled one quarter of the world.

“My family and I originate from Manchester,” said Mark, who cofounded the Eden Prairie branch of Cruise Planners alongside his wife Helen. “It’s one of the more wettish cities in the United Kingdom, which itself is a very rainy country. Naturally, from an early age we’ve always wanted to go to sunny places – Spain, Italy, Portugal, and, if we felt like making the trip, Florida. Travel is in our DNA.

“I’ve traveled the world both for business and for pleasure – more than 40 countries so far, including West Germany where I served in the British Army. Traveling that much really gives you a different perspective on the world, and more experiences than you ever could have enjoyed if you just stayed at home.

“After moving to the States I worked at a company in Bloomington for several years, but I always wanted to start my own. When I learned about Cruise Planners, which is one of the largest travel advisor franchises in North America, I decided to start helping other people explore the world for a living.

“Wherever you want to travel, my wife Helen and I will take care of all your arrangements. If you would like to see a Formula 1 Grand Prix in Monte Carlo, or go on safari in South Africa, or take a cruise through the fjords of Alaska, we will make certain everything about your vacation comes together seamlessly. With that said, we have four specialties: river cruises, tours of Britain and Ireland, all-inclusive luxury resorts, and golf vacations.

“Personally, I much prefer river cruises over the massive ocean liners. The more intimate ships let you get out and explore a country’s towns and villages instead of just its biggest cities, which is the only real way to meet new people and absorb their culture. You can go on river cruises all over the world as well. Europe is very popular for the Rhine and the Danube, but I would say the Mississippi is on par with either – and conveniently right in our backyard.

“I don’t think I have to spend too much time explaining why we’re your best travel advisors for tours of Britain and Ireland. That’s our home turf, and we can pair you with a local tour director who knows the land just as intimately as we do. It’s a small country, the UK, but very densely populated with a lot of variety among its people. It’s amazing how you can tell exactly where someone is from just by listening to their accent.

“Our luxury resort service becomes especially popular once winter rolls around. We do a lot of Sandals resorts in the Caribbean – my wife and I are looking forward to our own stay at Emerald Bay early next year. I love golf as well, and can use the connections I’ve fostered over the years to get you on some of the most prestigious greens in the world including St Andrews Links in Scotland and the PGA National Estate Golf Course in West Palm Beach.

“When you choose to arrange your trip with our help, you can rest assured everything will go smoothly from the day of your departure until your safe return. We know all the major airports in the world like the backs of our hands. Unlike Expedia, we can tell you if a one-hour layover will give you enough time to catch your connecting flight. If you’re traveling abroad where your health insurance won’t cover you, we will make sure you have travel insurance that will save you tens of thousands of dollars in the event of an emergency. We can even recommend the best hotels, wherever you might be going. 

“Many travelers were particularly out of luck during the onset of the pandemic. I just recently spoke to someone who is still waiting for his refund 16 months later. He was not one of our clients, because they were all refunded within weeks of the crisis. But fortunately the world is opening back up again, and we’re ready as ever to help you enjoy it!”

Please call (952) 452-8941 or visit rigbytravel.com to learn more about Eden Prairie’s own Cruise Planners.

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