A cruise start-up has accused the Passenger Shipping Association of acting like an “old boys’ club” by refusing it as an affiliate member.


Cruisingexcursions.com, a specialist trade supplier, launched in June promising to offer agents in the growing tailor-made sector alternative excursions to cruise operators and at up to 60% less.


It was keen to join the PSA as an affiliate because this would give it access to PSA trade training arm Ace and its hundreds of cruise specialist agent members.


Cruisingexcursions initially had its membership application accepted and received an invoice.


But it was then told the decision had been reversed.


An email sent to managing director Simon Purchase by Maggie Gibbons, associate member services executive at the PSA, said Cruisingexcursions would not be a “suitable” member.


Bill Gibbons, chairman of the PSA, said: “Initially, it was felt appropriate that Cruisingexcursions should be considered for membership of the PSA Associate scheme. Subsequently, however, it transpired that the company was unsuitable for the scheme, and no fees were paid.”


Purchase said: “We had been told the PSA was a bit of an ‘old boys’ club’ so weren’t totally surprised, but nonetheless we feel a bit like we’re the underdog and they’re trying to quash our entrepreneurial spirit. There can’t be many trade organisations that can afford to turn down new members.”


Cruisingexcursions claims to have booked 5,000 excursions since its launch. It said the trade’s interest had been “phenomenal”.


Cruise118 director James Cole said: “From a retail point of view, if they are offering value or a different service then surely that’s the best thing for the consumer.”


“The PSA and Ace should be all about looking after the cruise customer and providing them with the best possible service.”