Playbill Acquires Empress Travel and Cruises to Enhance Its Robust Travel Division

Playbill Travel, the division of the 134-year-old theatrical brand providing exclusive experiences melding world-class travel and A-list Broadway entertainment, has acquired travel company Empress Travel & Cruises. The Schenectady-based company has specialized in travel bookings and customer service for 40 years. Edward Plog, President of Empress Travel, has been named President of Playbill Travel and Barbara Waterbury of Empress has been named Vice President of Playbill Travel under the purview of Playbill CEO Philip Birsh.


“Playbill Travel is very proud to be associated with Edward Plog and Barbara Waterbury and their entire team at Empress Travel & Cruises,” says Birsh. “The company has been a mainstay of service and travel expertise in the Capital Region. Our growing travel company needs professionals like Ed and Barbara to help our company continue to grow our ‘Performance Travel’ niche.”

Founded in 2010, Playbill Travel launched with its first-ever Broadway on the High Seas cruise, featuring a week-long luxury getaway on a chartered five-star oceanliner in which award-winning Broadway and theatre talent deliver nightly cabarets for the intimate crowd of approximately 300 guests. Over the past eight years, Playbill Travel has served over 2,000 passengers and has expanded its offerings to European riverboat cruises with the trio of 2017’s Broadway on the Rhône River, Broadway on the Rhine River, and Broadway on the Danube River with Michael Feinstein.

The expansion of Playbill Travel with this acquisition will allow for an increased variety of travel experiences. “With [Barbara and Ed’s] help, Playbill Travel will be introducing the first of many new products, such as the Playbill Signature Weekends to NYC that include tickets for hit shows like Hamilton, Frozen, Beautiful: The Carole King Musical, and many more,” says Birsh.

“As the new President of Playbill Travel, I am always looking for ways to bring our clients new and exciting travel products,” Plog says. In addition to the New York City-based Signature Weekends, Playbill Travel will also curate Signature Playbill Weekends across the bond in London, to bridge the gap between Broadway and the West End.

Playbill also has four upcoming cruises: the sold-out Broadway on the High Seas: Iceland in July 2018, a second outing of the popular Broadway on the Rhône River in April 2019, and Broadway on the High Seas: The Greek Isles in June 2019. For more information and the lineup of Broadway stars performing on our future trips, please visit

Past performers include Tony-winning stars such as Brian Stokes Mitchell, Patti LuPone, Chita Rivera, Christine Ebersole, Laura Benanti, Tommy Tune, Alice Ripley, Paulo Szot, Rachel Bay Jones, and more.

“Our growing travel company needs professionals like Ed and Barbara to help our company continue to grow our ‘Performance Travel’ niche,” says Birsh. Waterbury adds, “Providing travel expertise to our clients has always been our highest priority. This synergy will allow us to provide more opportunities and a greater value.”

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