When the new marketing director of P&O Cruises remarked the week before last that he wanted to own the ex-UK market and didn’t want ‘Royal Caribbean parking its tanks on our lawn’, he probably hadn’t bargained on the news the American line announced just days later.

Royal Caribbean revealed it is to base new ship Anthem of the Seas in Southampton from spring 2015, exactly when P&O Cruises will be unveiling its own new-build, Britannia, at the port.

News that the ships will be going head to head sparked some comments about overcapacity and price wars. While that is a pitfall to avoid, let’s not forget these deployments mark something much more positive: the fact there is such confidence in the growth potential of the UK market that two big companies are willing to throw huge investment at it. The news is great for the industry in general and agents in particular, who will be courted by the two lines to ensure the ships sail full.

More investment and focus on agents was also the theme at this week’s Advantage Business Partners update, where new workshops for branch managers and frontline staff were unveiled as part of a new ‘nurturing talent’ initiative.

Advantage also announced its members would be known as partners and said it would henceforth be grading suppliers not just on commercials but on service levels as it strives for even stronger collaborative relationships.

Is it just me, or are more good agents at last starting to call the shots?