Meet Stephanie Smith
Today's topic is the incredible impacts of Christian Cruise experiences with Stephanie Smith. Stephanie has always loved to travel and experience the way people live in different parts of the world. Her studies and her job have enabled her to do that in many places. Stephanie has worked for Inspiration Cruises and Tours for over ten years, and she joins us today to talk a little bit about that and her cruise experiences.
Sarah: Hey, Stephanie, how are you doing?
Stephanie: I'm great, thank you. I'm glad to be here.
Sarah: Yes, we're glad that you're here as well. Can you tell us a little bit about yourself and how you got into the cruise world?
Stephanie: Absolutely. I'll start with travel has always been a passion of mine. My mother says I wore out my first atlas when I was four years old. And I remember as a young child, just looking at all the maps, curious about who lived in all these places and what they looked like and what their cultures and customs were. So from a young age, that was just something that was an interest of mine. I think as I moved into my adulthood,
I just knew travel would be a part of my life, whether it was a career or not, I had no idea.
I went to school and got a marketing degree while I was in college. My parents purchased a Christian travel management company called Inspiration Cruises and Tours. And they went from they were in the bookstore industry, and then they moved to Travel, Christian Travel. And ten years later, they asked if I would want to come work for them for a while. And I said I would give them a one-year commitment. And we are 16 years in, so I just never left. But I realized I got to use my education, that I had gone into as well as my passion for travel all in one career. And you can't ask for anything better.
Sarah: Right. So if your parents ran a bookstore previously and then got into the travel world, was travel something that was a passion for them as well, that they passed on to you?
Stephanie: Yeah, not as much, really. Actually, I think they just saw it as an amazing business opportunity. But also my parents have always used their giftings in the marketplace for ministry. So my dad has always said he's never felt called to be in direct ministry or to be a pastor, but he knows that he has always been in ministry to ministries. And so that's what it was like when he ran the Christian bookstore. It was a ministry to ministries. And then he just extended that when he moved into the travel business. And really, that's the whole reason why Inspiration even exists.
We always say if we are not making an impact to the kingdom, we will close the doors tomorrow.
We happen to be a for-profit company, but that's not why we exist. And so I think their passion to talk about Jesus and help those ministries, that really impact others, people around the world, their passion for that was given to me, and I got to combine that with my passion for travel.
Sarah: That's awesome. And it's so encouraging to hear other people also wanting to get making an impact for ministries and to use their career in that way.
Stephanie: Yeah, that's the whole point of why any of this should even happen.
We bring together people who are of like-minded faith, and they get to travel together.
And on top of that, they get to go with their favorite pastors or musicians and authors that they follow all the time or read about or listen to all the time. And it just makes such an impact in people's lives. And that's why we do what we do. So we spend countless hours making sure that all the details are taken care of and there's nothing left to chance. We do everything with excellence, and we're prepping our trips out two years before they even happen. And so once they come to completion, it's really good to see the travelers and the experience that they get to have that we work so hard for them to have.
Sarah: Absolutely. And that definitely does take a lot of planning.
Sarah: Kind of along those lines. Then how do you define Christian travel?
Stephanie: Christian travel, I'll go back to what I just said. It's a way of traveling with like-minded people. There are many different niches of travel that you can go into. You can travel with people who like Disney. You can travel with people who like your favorite secular band. You can travel with people who like Star Trek. By the way, there's an entire Star Trek cruise. If you don't know about it, you can do all those things. But in addition to having those amazing experiences, doing that in Christian travel, you are traveling with other people who are like-minded in your faith. And there are benefits to traveling with people that are not within your same beliefs.
But there is something about reconnecting with God in amazing places around the world and doing that in study of the Word, worshipping together, fellowshipping together, and then really just seeing the amazing world that God has created altogether with this mindset.
Sarah: Absolutely. It's great to use travel to be a place to build those connections and to reinforce and encourage our faith instead of just kind of leaving it at home while we're on our vacation.
Stephanie: Yeah. I've always said one of the main reasons I stayed in this industry is we're both Americans. And so talking to an American audience, it's one of my personal jobs. It has nothing to do with my job and inspiration.
But one of my personal jobs that I've given myself is to encourage Americans to get outside their American bubble
And comfort them and go see that there are other cultures in the world. Other ways of living. Other people who are Christians and that they follow the word of God. But they look different. They have different customs, they have different traditions. And I think one of the most amazing ways we can build bridges, is by actually physically seeing those things. But when you see the diversity, you understand that God is so much bigger than your own little personal world and your own little personal God box that you've placed Him in.
So it's really amazing to see those impacts when people go and see these places.
It's almost like if you were to get an Instagram photo and then you get to go to the place. It's like seeing an Instagram photo versus seeing the place in person. That's what Christian travel is for your soul.
Sarah: I love that. And that's definitely so true that it can really be that deep and meaningful experience of understanding God's creation.
We hope you enjoyed this interview with Stephanie Smith about Christian Cruise experiences and their profound impacts on travelers' faith. It's a wonderful way to connect with like-minded individuals, explore God's diverse creation, and broaden your understanding of your faith and the world.
To learn more about Christian travel and connect with other travelers, visit our Christian Travelers Network website. Stay tuned for more inspiring stories, travel tips, and faith-filled adventures.
Until then, safe travels and God bless!