The head of Scotland’s largest travel agency has described the way agents have been treated by leading cruise operator Carnival UK as ‘deplorable’ following last year’s commission cut.

Bill Munro, chairman of Barrhead Travel, spoke to Travel Weekly after Carnival chairman Micky Arison said the move to 5% saw it lose only big-discounting agents who were “not good for business”.

Munro claimed Carnival UK had, in effect, put the kind of cap on agents’ earnings imposed on independent petrol stations. He said: “It doesn’t matter how many pies, packets of crisps or fuel they sell, earnings are capped.

“CCS [Carnival UK sales arm] is saying it doesn’t want us to make any money out of selling its product. If it pays only 5%, all it can expect is order takers, not entrepreneurial agents creatively marketing, which is what agents do for other lines.”

Munro said Carnival Corporations’ latest trading result – a 96% profit slump, which was blamed on fuel prices and the Costa Concordia disaster – was “exactly what it deserved”.

“The way they treat the industry is deplorable,” he added. “The sooner they start paying productive agents who actively market their products and discount very little the better. That would be welcomed with open arms, instead of being treated in this appalling manner.”

Responding to claims by Arison and managing director David Dingle that trading was holding up well, Munro said: “I don’t believe it for a moment.”

Giles Hawke, Carnival UK sales director, accepted 5% had not worked for all agents, but said: “We are not capping earnings. We have agents doing multi-millions of pounds of business with us. All agents who work proactively with us are doing innovative things.

“We have been open and taken a commercial approach to how we distribute our cruise product.”