MSC Cruises plans to ditch ­exclusive offers to larger agencies to ensure all agents have ­access to the same prices.

Sales director Stephen ­Moffett said smaller agents ­often lost bookings because cruiselines favoured bigger-volume agents with exclusive prices. This practice often ­enables larger cruise specialists to undercut other agents.

Moffett hopes the move will earn the cruiseline a fairer reputation among agents. “We are trying to give all agents the same prices and create a level playing field. At the moment, smaller agents can’t compete,” he said.

He said agents producing larger volumes of sales for MSC Cruises would still be rewarded with overrides.

The move comes as the cruiseline doubles agency commission for shore excursion bookings from 5% to 10% and continues attempts to change perceptions of the brand as three-star in the trade.

The company markets itself as a four-star cruiseline and employed five extra business development managers this summer to improve agent product knowledge. For the first time there are dedicated staff covering agents in Ireland, Scotland and the Midlands and it now has a dedicated staff member dealing with tour operators, as well as three agent sales support staff.