Trade praises Princess Cruises for handling of Sun Princess delay

The trade has praised Princess Cruises for the way it handled the cancellation of the inaugural sailing on Sun Princess, but warned the delay has caused concern among agents with passengers booked on future cruises.

In a joint statement, Princess Cruises and shipbuilder Fincantieri confirmed the mutually agreed delay and the cancellation of the 10-day inaugural cruise, which was due to depart from Barcelona on February 8.

Princess Cruises declined to comment further and would not confirm whether the ship’s sold-out second sailing, which is scheduled to depart from Rome on February 18, will go ahead as planned.

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The trade commended the line’s communication about the cancellation with agents, praising Princess Cruises’ decision to honour commission. Alison Earnshaw, Cruise118 managing director, described the move as a “big deal”, adding: “Not all lines always do so.

“We did have some bookings on the sailing, but [Princess] kept us informed at quite an early stage, which has helped us with the management of those guests.”

Phil Nuttall, chief executive of Travel Village Group, said Princess Cruises had been “brilliant as always”, and emphasised the support agents had received from the line.

“Princess does look after its agent partners and once again they have protected commissions,” he said.

“Things happen, unfortunately, and it’s about how you deal with it, and Princess is very good at this.”

However, Fred Olsen Travel retail director Paul Hardwick warned the cancellation had caused “concern” among agents as Princess Cruises had not provided any updates on whether further departures would be affected.

He said there was generally “more worry now” about cancellations than in the past, as a number of cruise lines had been forced to delay inaugural sailings in recent years, which he warned could negatively impact the reputation of the industry.

Asked if customers might stop booking maiden voyages for fear of cancellation, Hardwick said: “Inaugural sailings are still really popular as customers like to say they were the first people to sail on the ship. But there is an intrinsic value to looking forward to your holiday, so when there is a fear of it being cancelled, this affects that value.”

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