Changes to Complete Cruise Solution’s payment terms could make it harder for smaller agents to do business with the operator, according to a leading independent agent.

Creative Cruises director Jason Peters, formerly a cruise consultant with the Advantage consortium, was responding to CCS increasing deposits from 10% to 15% and requiring full payment 90 days in advance instead of 56 days.

Peters, who is a member of the CCS travel agent advisory board, said the new terms would not concern agents with large balance sheets and favourable agreements with their credit card companies.

But he said the changes meant smaller agencies would effectively have to ask for full payment at the time of booking because credit card firms were holding on to clients’ money for longer and customers were booking closer to departure.

Peters said he felt the revised payment terms were designed to reduce CCS’s exposure to travel agencies going out of business, adding: “It is becoming more difficult for companies of a certain size to deal with CCS.”

The latest payment changes, which follow the Carnival UK sales operation cutting base commission to 5%, apply to all 2012 P&O Cruises and Cunard sales but excludes CCS sister line Princess Cruises.

Peters said that the early signs were that the commission change, despite being hugely controversial, had actually helped his agency compete with larger rivals and convert more inquiries. While this might prove to be a boost for smaller agencies, the more recent changes to payments terms had had the opposite effect, he said.  

Mark Pilkington, CCS head of sales, said: “This is good news for agents as it means customers are less likely to cancel because they have put down a higher deposit. I have spoken with the big agents and the feedback has been positive. When people cancel two months before the cruise it can be difficult to resell the cabin.”