Norwegian Cruise Line has urged agents attending the inaugural sailing of Norwegian Getaway to make the most of the experience.

More than 1,000 agents will attend the event in Southampton, with 2,000 of their customers attending too. Nick Wilkinson, the line’s director business development UK, Ireland and Scandinavia, described the decision to bring guests and agents onboard together as “an industry first” and something which agents can capitalise on.

Wilkinson said the cruise line had been in talks with key agents about the new ship’s first visit to Southampton, with many explaining it was difficult to leave the office for an overnight event.

“It made sense to allow them to bring their guests onboard so they can experience it together,” he said. “It means the agents are able to spend time with their customers in a nice environment.”

The initiative is part of the cruise line’s Partners First programme which aims to education, engage, reward agents as well as ensure the line is easy to do business with.

Wilkinson added: “We have been listening carefully and this is a fantastic opportunity for agents.”

Francis Riley, vice president and general manager international, said: “This is a real industry first and we’re really excited about it.

“Because this is during wave period we knew we had to do something a little different so we invited agents to invite their customers.  We are taking a realistic view on the time of the event because we know it is difficult for agents to get time away from the office.

“This is an opportunity for the agents to bring their key customers along but it is also a chance for them to bring people who are new to cruise onboard so they can see what it’s about. It’s great for them to bring long-haul travelers onboard too, the ones who make those big bookings.

“We have been delighted by the response we have received from agents – in reality we could have sold this event two times over.”

He said agents from Virgin, Thomas Cook, The Cruise Village and were attending the event in January.

Customers will be brought onboard for a nominal charge and if they make a booking through their travel agent in a period after the ship visit, they will get the money back from Norwegian.