Third-party independent agents remain important to Thomson Cruises’ sales despite increasing in-house sales following Thomson’s merger with First Choice last year.

TUI Travel mainstream division director of cruising David Selby said First Choice agents are selling more Thomson cruises as a result of the tie-up, although most have more knowledge of Island Cruises. First Choice has a 50% stake in Island Cruises.

“First Choice agents are selling more of our cruises than they used to. There there are no plans to sell all our product in-house independent agents are important,” said Selby.

He added: “We still sell significant numbers through our in-house agents but we have a preferred list of [third-party] agents who perform for us,” said Selby.

Thomson Cruises did not cut commission to agents when its sister tour operation Thomson Holidays cut payments to 7% at the end of 2005. “Because of the Thomson story we do not deal with every independent agent and commission varies but we are not looking to reduce that commission.”