At Travel Weekly we have always seen one of our main roles as being a vital conduit between tour operators on one side and travel agents on the other.

While the industry has changed dramatically in recent years and those distinctions are becoming ever more blurred, we still feel there is an important job to be done in that respect.

So it was extremely gratifying to be able to host our latest cruise round-table last week at which Carnival UK’s new commercial chief Gerard Tempest met key trade partners for the first time.

But it wasn’t just that he used the opportunity to generate some positive PR. I felt there was a genuine desire to listen to what the agents had to say – evidenced by the copious notes he took during the debate.

Given the strength of feeling in the trade since Carnival led the recent bout of commission cutting, the discussion was extremely constructive.

It’s all too easy to pitch supplier against retailer, but you got the sense from the agents that there was a real desire to find ways of working together for the benefit of all.

And the agents themselves were able to share their views about some of the strategies they have implemented in their own businesses.

Carnival’s decision to initiate the round-table, and not to shy away from some agents who have been among its fiercest critics, suggests this was more than just about paying lip service.

The problems afflicting Carnival Triumph last week have only served to underline once again how this is one sector that needs good agents.