Introducing Festival at Sea & Friends of Festival at Sea
Patricia Nicholson Yarbrough
Owner, Blue World Travel Corp.
In 1978 Patricia opened Blue World Travel, located in downtown San Francisco, specializing in corporate, individual and entertainment travel. Blue World Travel is now celebrating its 42nd year in business.
Before Festival at Sea, Patricia and her clients loved traveling, however there was a lack of cultural activities that existed onboard cruises. In 1992 she created the award-winning travel program, Festival at Sea tailored for the African American traveler. Festival at Sea…Cruising with an African American Twist are full ship charters offering Top Name Entertainment, Old School and New School Dancing, Urban Line Dancing, Chicago Steppin’ Lessons, Zumba, Speed Dating, Family Feud, Renewal of Wedding Vows, Worship Service, FAS Choir, Bible Study, Bid Whist Tournament, Dominoes, a Golf Tournaments and many more events. The 2021 charter of the Celebrity Equinox with a capacity of 3000 people will be the 29th Sailing of Festival at Sea.
In 1998 Friends of Festival at Sea was created for African Americans who wanted to expand their horizons and explore the world. These cruises have taken people to Africa, Europe, the Mediterranean, Alaska, Brazil, Argentina, the South Pacific, Panama, and even London for a ride on the Orient Express. This past March, the Friends group was supposed to sail on a 15 Night Singapore to Hong Kong cruise onboard the Crystal Symphony with 70 passengers. Additionally, this upcoming December 2020, another group of 70 was going sail on the Regent Seven Seas Voyager for 14 Nights Southern African cruise including a free 3-night pre-cruise from Cape Town South Africa. Due to the outbreak, we will reschedule our Friends programs at a later time.
Giving Back: For Patricia, one of the most important aspects of the Festival at Sea is the two philanthropic programs. Each year Festival at Sea holds a raffle, and Bachelor Auction to raise money for African American College Students. Blue World estimates that over the past 29 years they have raised close to $400,000.00 that has been donated to either the Thurgood Marshall Scholarship Fund or the United Negro College Fund. They also have an onboard raffle to win a cruise for the following year. “If every one of our 3000 passenger buys a $5.00 raffle ticket, we can raise $15,000.00. What could be easier or more satisfying than that?”
In addition, Festival at Sea has a Children’s Book Donation program. Each passenger is asked to bring at least one new children’s book with them when they cruise. The books are donated to the schools, libraries or charitable organizations such as the Red Cross. Over the past 29 years book donations totaling over 50,000 new children’s books have been donated to almost every island in the Caribbean including, Barbados, St. Thomas, San Juan, St. Maarten, The Bahamas, Jamaica, Belize, St. Kitts, and Grand Cayman and Haiti and St. Croix. In addition, books and supplies have been donated to schools in South Africa, Hawaii and San Diego. Patricia believes that together we can make small contributions that lead to big results. “All I do is to ask my passengers bring one children’s book with them every year. We give them stickers to put on the books so the children will know who donated the books. It is a great way to encourage literacy.
In addition, Blue World Travel held its first Children’s Toy Drive in the San Francisco Bay area in conjunction with the Bay Area Black Firefighters. We collected more than 100 toys that the SF Black Firefighters distributed to churches and charities throughout the Bay Area.
Educating the traveling public:
Patricia believes that in order for her clients to have the best travel experience, they need to be well informed. All of Blue World programs have Blue Note Newsletters that keep clients informed of necessary travel documentation, onboard activities and a section to congratulate them on events they are celebrating such as weddings and baby announcements. Patricia believes that “The key to success in travel is creating a loyal customer base and you do that by communicating with them and giving them excellent customer service.”
Blue World Travel has 8 employees and has received the following awards:
1997 Travel Weekly Achievement Award – Best Advertising, Promotional, Marketing Campaign
1997 Celebrity Cruises Top Performer Award
1999 Travelsavers Ordre d’Honneur 25 Top Producer Award
2000 Travel Age West Trendsetters- Best Advertising/Marketing Campaign
2001 United Negro College Fund Frederick D. Patterson Award
2005 Black Meetings and Tourism Distinguished Service Award
2006 United States House of Representatives Congressional Commendation
2006 Super Clubs Greatest Incremental Production Award
2007 Super Clubs Top Producing Agency Award
2009 Travel Professions of Color Travel Agent of the Year
2010 United Negro College Fund Frederick D. Patterson Individual of the Year
2010 Silversea Silver Alliance Award
2011 Travel Age West Trendsetter’s Award –Best Group Booking Sales Effort
2011 Travel Weekly Magellan Award-Best Client Newsletter (Web or Print)
2011 Festival at Sea Committee Passion, Service & Leadership Award
2013 UNCF Recognition & Appreciation Award
2014 UNCF Appreciation Award
2015 Crystal Cruise Top Producer Award
2015 Travelsavers Elite Top Producer
2016 UNCF Gala Award
You can read our newsletters, and even watch our video online at www.FestivalatSea.com.