Agents will be "critical" the future of the cruise sector in a post-coronavirus world according to Royal Caribbean Cruises (RCL) boss Richard Fain.
In a special message to the trade, RCL chair and chief executive Fain highlighted the vital role agents play providing clients support and expertise.
"I’ve heard some advisors express concern cruise lines may view them as less necessary in a post-Covid world – balderdash," said Fain.
"As we recover from this pandemic, and we will in the blink of an eye, your support, your relationships, and your ability to inform the public, will be critical to our future.
"Your role is to continue to provide support and expertise to your clients. So please continue to nurture those relationships and continue to hold us accountable for supporting you during these weird times."
Fain said RCL, like other lines, recognised agents bring in "the bulk" of its business, and vowed to continue to protect commissions and find other ways to support the trade.
He revealed RCL Cares, the firm’s new online trade advice and support portal launched last month, had already provided guidance and support to "almost 7,000 agencies".
Reflecting on the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic, Fain said while Royal’s businesses "were hurting", the company was not losing sight of the "millions of people whose livelihoods have been threatened or destroyed" by coronavirus.
"The consequences are going to be with us for a very long time," he said. "How does this impact our role as a cruise company and your role as travel advisors? Our role is to do everything passion and ingenuity can offer to keep our ships safe and healthy.
"Our guests are off our ships – we still have crew on ships who want to go home, and we’re working feverishly to overcome all the travel barriers to do that. We believe we’ve found ways to finish that imperative and expect to complete the process shortly."
He continued: "Looking forward to restarting, health and safety are absolutely paramount. As I’ve said before, what was fine just a few weeks ago is no longer adequate. Good enough just isn’t good enough.
"We need to raise the bar to new heights and we have teams of doctors, scientists, epidemiologists and teams of people who know our business all looking hard and charting the safest and surest path forward that we can."
Fain added: "We’re in this together, and together, we will make it through to the other side. The world may be different when this is behind us, but some things never change, and the most important of those is the power of friendship and relationships.
"So let’s get there safely and let’s get there together. Let’s go on to better times from there."