Gallery: conference is to launch its own customer survey to counter the recent Which? poll into cruise lines which sparked a backlash from the sector.

The agency’s managing director, Chris Gardner, said a census would be known as ‘The Real Cruise Survey from The Real Cruise People’ and carried out annually.

The first one will be sent to customers imminently and the findings will be released in the second quarter of this year.

It follows criticism from the cruise sector of the Which? report published last month which ranked the best and worst lines based on responses from 2,253 members.

MSC Cruises said it failed to take into account the different price points of the lines, so did not compare like for like, and based its findings on a small sample size, with just 67 of the respondents saying they had sailed with MSC Cruises.

Gardner, who used to work for Which?, said he had a “fundamental issue with the methodology used” by the consumer website.

“To take [all cruise lines] and lump them together doesn’t work for me,” he said. “We think we could counter it. We are very well-placed to do our own survey.”

Gardner added: “We are going to go to a much bigger sample size and ask different sorts of questions, with advice and counsel from our partner cruise lines. We will recognise that not every cruise line is born equal. You can’t compare a Seabourn with an MSC or a Fred Olsen. We want to get to a place where we are representing the voice of the cruising public.”

Antonio Paradiso, MSC Cruises’ managing director for the UK and Ireland, said: “Cruise is an exciting, innovative and varied holiday sector that the Which? report does not reflect. Its methodology is not representative of the cruise experience. It’s therefore great to see a company that really understands cruise doing their own report.”

‘Half of cruise customers find prices confusing’

Low-price guarantees influence 45% of’s bookers, while 56% say they are sceptical about the offers they see.

More than half (52%) said they found prices confusing, according to consumer insight research carried out by the agency, while 52% valued service and advice over the best price.

Half of the customers surveyed said they found using a travel agent made finding a cruise easier, with only 13% disagreeing with that statement. Nearly half of respondents (49%), said they valued convenience over price.

Managing director Chris Gardner claimed the research also found was the “best-known” specialist cruise agency, with 55% prompted awareness, compared with 36% for its nearest rival. conference

Agency honours suppliers for first time presented its first awards to suppliers, as voted for by
its consultants and customers. The winners and runners-up were:

Highest-rated Cruise Line
1. Cunard
2. Celebrity Cruises
3. Carnival Cruise Line
4. Fred Olsen Cruise Lines
5. Royal Caribbean

Best Agent Reward Scheme
1. Royal Caribbean
2. P&O Cruises
3. Celebrity Cruises

Best Booking System
1. P&O Cruises
2. Royal Caribbean
3. Marella Cruises

Best After-sales support
1. P&O Cruises
2. Celebrity Cruises
3. Princess Cruises/CMV

Best Value for Money
1. MSC Cruises
=2. Marella Cruises
=2. P&O Cruises
4. Princess Cruises

Best Account Manager
1. Laura Montalban, MSC Cruises
2. Grace Sandwith, Princess Cruises
3. Shaun Lyons, Celebrity Cruises

Best Overall Cruise Line
1. Celebrity Cruises
2. MSC/Royal Caribbean
3. Princess Cruises

Best Overall Commercially
1. Princess Cruises
2. MSC Cruises

Highest-rated Ship in 2019
1. Celebrity Eclipse
2. Cunard’s Queen Mary 2
3. P&O Cruises’ Aurora
4. Celebrity Silhouette
5. Royal Caribbean’s
Independence of the Seas conference