While some agents described Complete Cruise Solution’s (CCS) cut to 5% as “devastating”, others believed the move could help small independents sell more cruise.

CCS claimed the move to slash commission by as much as 10% was a game-changing attempt to stamp out discounting and said it would be good for agents.

Garstang Travel described the move as “devastating”. It said it currently made 9.8% on CCS bookings, so faced that income being halved. It is now questioning “how enthusiastically” to promote CCS brands.

Branch manager Claire Donnelly said the agency was “shocked” and “disappointed” by the move and revealed that the initial reaction was “to take the brochures off the shelves”.

But she said Garstang had decided to continue marketing the Carnival UK brands, but would look to switch-sell where appropriate.

“We have clients who have booked for years and want to go with P&O [Cruises],” she said. “But if we have an opportunity to switch-sell we will try to do that.”

However, Donnelly did concede that Garstang might pick up customers from rival agents who would no longer be able to undercut them by giving away their commission.

Phil Nuttall, Cruise Village director, said: “It will be interesting to see how many smaller agents increase their business now there is this perceived level playing field. A lot of people will be encouraged if this happens.”

Seamus Conlon, managing director of Cruise.co.uk, claimed cruise experts would do well out of the new structure. He added: “I do not see this as a move to increase direct distribution; I see it as a move towards widening its [Carnival UK’s] distribution.”