Looking to leave Brooklyn this summer?
A Staten Island couple cut the ribbon on a full-service travel agency in the heart of Bay Ridge on Friday, July 21, officially opening up a one-stop shop for all travel needs.
Expedia CruiseShipCenters (7618 Third Avenue), which is owned by Ash Ibrahim and his wife, Karina Kocot, looks to provide an array of services to the Bay Ridge community, including cruises, safaris, hotel booking, airfare, excursions and travel insurance.
“I grew up hanging out here and we love the area,” said Ibrahim, who spent most of his 25-year career as a cop with the MTA in Brooklyn. “Bay Ridge has always been good to us and there’s a lot of great people here. It was just a natural fit for us.”
Following its soft opening on Monday, April 17, the business became the first brick and mortar franchise of online travel site Expedia, Inc. to open in Brooklyn, and one of around 70 nationwide.
Being based in a community as close-knit as Bay Ridge, the couple looks to provide travel services with a personal touch, according to Kocot.
“The reason that we opened and the reason we believe in this business is because we give personal attention. When you pay for a trip on the Internet, you don’t know who you’re talking to,” said Kocot. “With this business, there’s no extra fee, but you get the personalized service.”
Ibrahim echoed his wife’s sentiment, explaining that the couple’s goal is “to give the community a place to trust, where they can get their travel needs met. We want to give the community a place where they can talk to us on a one-to-one basis and have a long-term relationship.”
The ribbon cutting was attended by a representative from Congressmember Dan Donovan’s office, as well as State Senator Martin Golden, who praised the business as an asset to the community.
“Any time we can add jobs to our community and give real opportunities to the people in our community it’s great,” said Golden. “Bay Ridge has a high senior population that doesn’t really get into Expedia, so this brick and mortar situation allows many of our seniors and families an opportunity to use this service.”
Expedia CruiseShipCenters is open from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m., Monday through Saturday.