Agents are ‘major source of business’ for P&O Cruises

P&O Cruises’ president has vowed to invite any Clia Conference agent delegate who makes an Arvia booking within the next two months to the ship’s inaugural event as he expressed his appreciation for the trade.

Paul Ludlow told around 550 delegates at the three-day conference in Southampton that agents were “a major source of business” for P&O Cruises, adding they were “vitally important” to the line.

Addressing agents directly, he said: “We’re going to offer all of you an opportunity. For any of you that book a holiday on Arvia between now and the end of July we’re going to guarantee you a place at our inaugural activities at the end of the year.

“We’ve got more than 1,000 places to give away at Arvia inaugural event, so get booking.”

Agents were also urged by Ludlow to inform the line how they would like to be supported going forward.

“We’ve had a lot of change within the travel industry over the last 20 years,” he added. “One thing that has been consistent is our travel agent partners. This industry has grown and our agent partners have grown with us.”

As he reminded agents about the line’s Shine Rewards Club programme, he said: “You can really prosper in the way that you sell our holidays. We absolutely need you at every step of the way.”

On recent booking volumes, he said: “Wave wasn’t what we wished it to be but now we’re into June which is often a slightly quieter period we’re seeing volumes that are akin to wave.

“What we’re going to see is that the booking trends are going to be a little messy for a while. They will settle down.”

Ludlow added that May 9 to May 15 was the line’s best booking week for “newcomers” – new-to-brand passengers – in its history.

He also revealed that a series of new features on Iona’s sister vessel that is slated to join the line’s fleet in December.

“We talk about Arvia being a sister to Iona but she’s not her twin,” he explained. “There are going to be a lot of things on Ariva that are going to be different from Iona.”

Ludlow said the 5,200-passenger vessel would have the line’s first-ever sushi restaurant, a high ropes experience, American diner at sea, 4D escape room and plant-based restaurant.

Themed show Festival, which debuted on Iona, will also appear on Arvia when it launches, according to entertainer and singer Jonny Wilkes, who originally created the show.

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