Carnival UK has confirmed its sales team will be reduced following a consultation launched as a result of the Covid-19 crisis, but insisted the move was a “forced necessity” due to social distancing measures and limitations on agency visits.

The cruise giant completed a consultation period on Tuesday, with 450 roles – nearly a third of Carnival UK’s shore-based staff – being made redundant.

Several staff of P&O Cruises, Cunard, Princess, Holland America Line and Seabourn highlighted their jobs were at risk on social media channels in recent weeks. Among those who posted are Chloe Palmer and Neal Hussey, who were both in the P&O Cruises sales team; Richard Cross, who worked in Cunard’s sales team; Princess Cruises’ commercial director Chris Barnaville; Andrea Jones and Charlotte Brailsford, who were both in the Princess agency sales team.

Carnival UK declined to confirm how many trade facing sales roles had been lost.

In addition to the redundancies, Carnival UK confirmed that “another significant proportion” of staff will take a period of sabbatical, a group understood to include Cunard’s UK sales director Gary Anslow. Travel Weekly believes Anslow has taken a six month sabbatical and will return early January.

P&O Cruises’ president Paul Ludlow said the company was “devastated to have to take this action which has affected so many talented and dedicated colleagues”.

Despite the reduction in agency facing roles in the sales team, Ludlow insisted the brand’s commitment to the trade “remained as strong as ever”.

During the consultation period, a member of staff, who was at risk and asked to remain anonymous, said the move was “completely the wrong decision”, claiming 60% of P&O Cruises’ UK bookings come from travel agents.

In a statement, Ludlow said: “The Covid-19 pandemic has not only affected the holidays of our guests but it has also impacted every part of our business; our future deployment; the guest experience; our supply chain and our people on ship and on shore.

“Due to this impact we have had to take some really tough decisions to ensure that we can sustain and protect our business for the future. Following a period of collective consultation nearly a third of our shore based staff will very sadly be leaving our business on June 30 and another significant proportion will take a period of sabbatical.

“We are devastated to have to take this action which has affected so many talented and dedicated colleagues.

“We appreciate it is a very difficult and unsettling time for everyone but we have followed a clear and fair consultation process and considered all individual suggestions for new ways of working.

“At the current time as our operations are paused, we are working at the highest levels to develop a comprehensive restart programme to phase our ships back into service with enhanced and approved protocols that will keep everyone on board well and still give our guests an amazing holiday.

Our commitment to the travel trade remains as strong as ever. The reduction in sales team was, very sadly, a forced necessity due to social distancing and the limitations of shop and office visits.

“We remain committed to developing new ways of working to best support our agent partners encouraging agent feedback and including training and regular communication through our 15,000 strong agent Shine programme. We would like to take this opportunity to reaffirm our sincere thanks to all our agent partners for their mutual work supporting our guests during our pause in operations and we look forward to working together as we develop our re-start plans.”