Carnival UK is no longer insisting that all agents’ customers make direct payments to the cruise line.

The parent of P&O Cruises demanded direct payments 
after the collapse of Gill’s Cruise Centre in 2011 to prevent agents holding on to customers’ money, but is now relaxing its stance for some agents.

However, the operator said the controversial practice remains a key part of its strategy to de-risk its business.

Commenting on a raft of changes ushered in by a new management team, new Carnival UK sales director Chris Truscott told Travel Weekly: “Consumers paying direct is one way of realising risk-free trading. We will work with agents to achieve that but we are not forcing anyone down a particular route.”

Truscott said last week’s move to increase base commission to 7.5% would help reduce risk because agents should be more profitable and less likely to fail.

One change the new Carnival regime has ruled out reversing is going back on sale via Amadeus.

The global distribution system’s new Cruise Shop platform, designed to make selling cruise easier for agents, has been well received in the trade since launch in September.

But Truscott said it was “not part of my current thinking”.

“The opportunity for us is to make that online transaction simple for agents. We currently transact 97% online,” he said.

Meanwhile, reaction to Carnival UK’s commission increase was positive, although concerns were raised that it would encourage discounting.

Mike Bartram, of Abbey Travel Worldchoice in Selby, said he would consider actively promoting P&O again. But he added: “I am concerned about discounting because there will always be someone who thinks they now have an extra 2.5% to play with.”