A move by Complete Cruise Solution (CCS) to extend the payment window from 56 days to 90 days on cruise-only sales will put already cash-strapped customers under more pressure, according to agents.

Agents who dynamically package cruises will have to collect full payment from customers up to four weeks earlier to meet CCS’s new requirement.

Ideal Cruising managing director Tony Youster said the move would mean less flexibility for customers. “We take payments 13 weeks before departure, so we may have to change it to 15 weeks.

“This poses a few problems as customers need flexibility in today’s climate.

“If people are looking to hold on to their money a little longer they won’t be able to,” he said.

1st4cruising.com commercial director Manda Churchill agreed.

“We’re concerned about our regular customers. They plan their finances carefully and know exactly when they’ll make payment. So it’s difficult when that is changed.

“We’ll have to ensure we advise customers of the changes.”

CCS, which is the trade sales arm of P&O Cruises, Cunard and Princess Cruises, has denied that concerns about the health of
the travel sector prompted the move.

Giles Hawke, Carnival UK sales director, said cruise-only was a small part of its business because of the amount of ex-UK cruises in its programme.

He said: “We are seeing a lot of operators collecting money very early from customers, so we are making sure our money is with us once it has been collected.

“The majority have recognised this is fine and we have had positive feedback.”