On Tuesday, Queen Mary 2 and P&O Cruise’s Oriana joined Liberty of the Seas, the world’s joint largest passenger ship as well as Ocean Village Two in the port of Southampton.
Thousands of travel agents flocked for glittering inaugural celebrations, adding to the sense that this was a renaissance week for cruise.
The last two weeks have been the busiest in the port’s cruise passenger history, eclipsing the golden age of cruise 50 years ago.
In the ten days leading up to April 24, Southampton saw more than 40% of the passenger traffic than in the whole of 1997.
And it doesn’t stop there. Royal Caribbean is basing Navigator of the Seas in Southampton this summer and next summer will be hosting P&O’s largest ship Ventura, the biggest vessel built for the UK market. No wonder the port has plans for a new cruise terminal.
UK cruise is in the ascendancy and the good news is the trade is really helping push it. What’s heartening for agents is that the cruise industry is reciprocating.
It is offering good commission, an increasingly diverse range of product and plenty of educational opportunities for agents. As we see this week, there is also increasing potential for agents to dynamically package cruise product.
This week Royal Caribbean will host a fam trip on Navigator of the Seas for the five agencies participating in Travel Weekly’s Cruise Club, who we are following as they grow their business in this crucial sector.
The club members will take specially tailored training sessions in partnership with the Passenger Shipping Association Retail Agents scheme.
What the Cruise Club has proved so far is that there is a commitment from the cruise industry to support the trade, and that agents are responding by selling more cruise.
Travel Weekly will continue to support both the cruise industry and agents with a range of activities under its TW Cruise brand.
Pictures from Southampton are on our Flickr cruise gallery, we are looking forward to our involvement at the PSARA Cruise Convention in Dover in May as media partners and our next issue of TW Cruise magazine will be out on May 25.
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