Five cruise specialist agents – Barrhead Travel, Cruise.co.uk, Cruise 1st, Iglu and Cruise Nation – will be the first to gain access to MSC Cruises’ new trade booking platform MSC Book.

More agencies will go live each week during September ahead of the Italian line’s existing trade booking portal MSC Online being switched off in the UK in November.

MSC Book has been developed and built in-house over the last 18 months and is designed to make it easier for agents to book itineraries and associated products.

A cleaner graphics-led interface leads users through a simpler booking path, allowing them to book flights, choose cabin type, onboard experience level – Bella, Fantastica, Aurea and MSC Yacht Club – and dining options, as well as secure extras such as excursions and spa treatments.

Agents can compare potential cruise options for customers and use it to email quotes and booking confirmations. The system also allows users to view potential commission earned on each package.

Versions of MSC Book will be introduced simultaneously in France, Italy and Germany and comes in the latest stage of the company’s ‘Serving You’ initiative launched in July.

MSC Cruises UK and Ireland executive director Giles Hawke said: “We promised the new booking system when we launched our ‘Serving You’ programme and we have delivered it as planned.

“Agents very often say that booking cruises is a time-consuming and complicated process, so we have invested in making it as easy as possible.

“MSC Book should be a real boon to agents familiar to MSC Cruises as well as a great tool for attracting new retailers.”