Carnival UK will not market to Gill’s database through WeCruise

Leading cruise operator Carnival UK has confirmed it will not be supporting any marketing activity aimed at the Gill’s Cruise Centre database with WeCruise, the company that bought it.

The P&P Associates-owned cruise retailer acquired the Gill’s database from administrators Harrisons on July 15 after Gill’s ceased trading with debts to cruise lines totalling more than £10 million.

Giles Hawke, Carnival UK sales director, told Travel Weekly the operator will now be working with Gill’s customers on a direct basis, but said he was in talks with WeCruise about its plans.

He said: “We are talking to WeCruise. We want to understand what their business model is and what their proposal is, but we will not be working with them in terms of targeting the Gill’s database.

“We will be working with WeCruise as we would any other new agent in the trade who wants to set up a relationship with us.”

Hawke said this means that WeCruise will be expected to get its customers to pay the line directly, a policy it has brought in for all new agents.

Ultimately Carnival UK wants to see all travel agents move to this payments structure, something that is prevalent in the US and will enable it to significantly reduce its exposure to future agency failures.

With three leading brands in the Carnival UK stable, P&O Cruises, Cunard and Princess Cruises, the firm will certainly have been hardest hit by the Gill’s failure having, like all cruise lines, agreed to honour bookings.

Speaking to Travel Weekly last week during the naming of new Celebrity Cruises ship Celebrity Silhouette, bosses said they were satisfied no other cruise retailers were in similar financial troubles.

President and chief executive of the line Dan Hanrahan said he had a good team in the UK that “had its ear to the ground” about what was going in the UK trade.

But he said it was impossible to remove all risk from business and attempts to do so could have an adverse impact on profits.

However, all lines are expected to insist on a greater degree of scrutiny of their retail partners in the future following the failure of what was the UK’s third largest cruise specialist.     

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