Chief executive of Norwegian Cruise Lines Kevin Sheehan says agents need to be more innovative than ever as cruise ships develop.

Sheehan said there was a lot of “hand-holding” in that agents always have to reassure clients about the expenditure of cruises, what their cabins would be like and other aspects of a cruise holiday.

He said all cruise lines were doing a lot to help agents in terms of making booking processes easier. Sheehan explained that whether an agent had been working in the trade for 20, 10 or five years, there should always be a determination to be more innovative.

He said that as cruise lines prove innovative with the designs of ships, agents also needed to be cutting edge.

Adding: “They need to be cutting edge and to keep on top of the changing brands. As long as they do that they will always have the opportunity to book with us.”

Adam Goldstein, Royal Caribbean chief executive and president, said he was surprised by the number of entrepreneurs selling cruises in the UK.

He said: “I have spent a lot of time with travel agents here in the UK and some are the ones I have known for 20 years and they are veterans.

“What was interesting to me was how many entrepreneurs are investing in the industry.”

He said he was impressed by their drive to integrate their online businesses, their service and their motivation. He added: “They see a positive way forward.”

Travel agents sell the greatest percentage of bookings for cruise ships and they will always have a vital role in filling capacity, Howard Frank, Carnival Corporation’s vice chairman and chief operating officer said.

“Even if they were selling 95% 10 years ago and 85% today, they are selling a whole lot more cruises today than 10 years ago,” he added.

Christine Duffy, president of global cruise association Clia, said consumers relied on the knowledge and advice of travel agents to help them make an informed decision.