Hays Travel won the retailer of the year award and ROL Cruises bagged cruise specialist of the year at Carnival UK’s UK Cruise Awards on Thursday night.

Each year Carnival Corporation’s six UK brands dish out prizes to top-performing agencies from across the country.

Hays Travel was described as “a spectacular business” by Carnival Cruise Line’s vice president of international sales Iain Baillie as he handed the award to John and Irene Hays who took on Thomas Cook’s retail estate last year.

Before Hays Travel were presented with the award, Alex Delamere-White, P&O Cruises’ vice-president of sales and marketing, said: “In October 2019, this retailer made an incredible investment buying over 500 retail locations across the UK.

“For a family-run business being in the spotlight, this retailer epitomises the essence of every partnership achievement award. It gives me great pleasure to give this award to Hays Travel.”

Hays Travel also won Carnival Cruise Line’s partnership achievement award.

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In addition to cruise specialist of the year, Colchester-based ROL Cruises scooped Princess Cruises’ rising star award and shared Seabourn’s partnership achievement award with Six Star Cruises at the event at Camden Roundhouse in London.

Sarah Wikevand, ROL Cruises managing director, said: “We are delighted this award because each Carnival brand represents different challenges. We take nothing for granted.

“The cruise lines’ product is not different, but the teams are different. You must adapt your business to what the cruise line wants and know how to support them. We are over the moon.”

Cunard sales director Gary Anslow revealed that the line’s agent loyalty programme Shine Rewards Club now had 10,500 members after launching the scheme in December 2018.

He handed awards to Iglu Cruise (partnership achievement), Sovereign Cruise Club (outstanding contribution) and Cruise1st (rising star).