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‘Why use a travel agent?’

‘Why use a travel agent?’

Elsewhere Carnival Cruise Line will be rolling out its US “Why use a travel agent?” campaign in the UK, dispelling myths about the travel trade. Celebrities including Love Island’s Dr Alex will feature in marketing collateral for agents to then use. “It’s been a massive success in the US,” said Luke Smith, head of international sales for the line.


Elsewhere, the sales bosses agreed 2020 bookings had enjoyed a strong start compared with last year, after admitting to TTG in 2019 sales had been much softer due to Brexit and consumer uncertainty.


“The second week of January this year saw bookings really start to pick up,” said Anslow. “We’re really pleased – Alaska and Europe are doing well for us, in particular the Baltics and Fjords, as well as our Round the World 2022 sailings.”


Sherborne agreed and said the announcement of Gary Barlow as P&O’s brand ambassador had also provided a helpful boost. “Iona has been booking really well,” he said, adding that the fjords were also “proving to be really popular” for the line.


Farndell said sales for Princess Cruises were up around 30%, naming Alaska, Hawaii and the British Isles as top destinations.


Alaska also remains strong for Holland America Line, said Lahmich, “along with South America, Europe and the Caribbean”.


All agreed the recent political certainty following the UK’s move to finally leave the EU had helped boost consumer confidence – at least for now.


“We do monthly surveys with our guests and Brexit seems to be less of a concern for customers,” said Sherborne. He said bookings for 2021 (after the Brexit transition period has come to an end on December 31 2020) were also proving strong. “There’s nothing to suggest that people are concerned by it,” he added.


Smith agreed, and said bookings for Carnival – which tend to be made further in advance due to its ships being in predominantly long-haul locations – were strong. “We’ve no concerns for 2021,” he said.


All were unanimous in agreement that the many ship launches into the market – from Virgin Voyages’ Scarlet Lady and Celebrity Cruises’ Apex, to P&O’s Iona and Princess’s Enchanted Princess – would also provide the overall industry with a helpful boost this year.


It creates a “great halo effect” for the sector, said Farndell. “There’s so much positive news about cruise,” added Sherborne. “It’s going to be an amazing year.”


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