More than 1,000 cruise agents are hoping for a bookings boost after taking their clients on board Norwegian Getaway for its launch in Southampton.

In what the line described as an industry first, the agents and 2,000 of their customers welcomed Norwegian Cruise Line’s ship to the UK this week.

The 4,000-passenger ship ran a mini overnight cruise ahead of sailing to its home port of Miami. Customers were charged a small fee to attend, which will be refunded if they making a booking within four weeks for Getaway.

Ian Warren of GoCruise, who won a Travel Weekly competition to host 10 customers on the ship, said: “It’s a great opportunity for me. I’ve got some very happy customers because I invited them to this event and hopefully that will result in some bookings.”

Cruise Nation sold 100 cabins for 
the inaugural event. Managing director Phil Evans said: “To get people on board who either haven’t cruised before or are new to Norwegian is a great opportunity. It’s not often you get to mingle with your customers.”

Nick Wilkinson, Norwegian business development director for the UK, Ireland and Scandinavia, said the opportunity for agents to bring customers on board was an “industry first”.

During the event, the cruise line was expected to announce the revamp of its trade partner website and online training facilities. The two are currently separate websites, but Wilkinson said they would be merging into one.

“We have been looking at how agents could do business with us more easily and how to communicate better, and it made sense to have one website,” he said.

Norwegian Getaway will become the largest cruise vessel ever based year-round in Miami and will enter service with seven-night eastern Caribbean cruises from Miami from February 8.

The cruise line has also revealed that Norwegian Epic is to sail from Barcelona year-round from April 2015. Itineraries are due to be announced in mid-March.