P&O Cruises saw an 81% increase in bookings for Britannia on opening day compared to the launch of its last ship Azura.

Chris Truscott, sales and distribution support director, said there had been massive demand despite issues with the system which caused problems for agents and customers attempting to make bookings.

He said: “We were having problems with our systems the night before, and then they went down on the morning as we opened to bookings. It was a combination of problems with the system and bad timing, being the first day of bookings.”

Truscott said bookings showed a 24% increase on the best ever ship launch for Ventura, and that the “vast, vast majority of bookings made been made by agents.”

He said the systems went down and then eventually P&O was able to take bookings through its contact centre which is normally open to just consumers but was available to agents during the system failure.

He said agents made bookings through his method and then by 10.30 both systems were back up and running.

“It was a great success with really phenomenal demand,” he added. “And that is down to the way we have been working with agents.”

Truscott added: “We really appreciate the patience shown yesterday by our trade partners in the early part of yesterday when due to circumstances beyond our control they experienced difficulties making bookings with us. I can only apologise for the disruption caused and emphasise that we took immediate action to resolve the issues.

“However, I am delighted with the support agents have shown to our fantastic new ship which is demonstrated by the unprecedented demand. Britannia will display the very best of British in terms of design, dining and innate attention to detail in all areas. We can’t wait for the opportunity to show off Britannia to agents in just under a year’s time when the ship arrives in Southampton.”