Cunard president Peter Shanks issued a rousing opening ACE Selling Cruise Conference speech by urging agents to encourage British travellers to think differently about the sector.
The Passenger Shipping Association chairman called on the 285 agent delegates to win back customers following a difficult year for the industry following the Costa Concordia tragedy.
There have been a bad few months due to the "tragic and difficult" events and no industry has a divine right to unstinting sales, he said.
"This has impacted on public confidence and we will not rest on our laurels to win back the hearts and minds of customers," said Shanks.
He called on agents to recommend cruise holidays and offer reassurance about the industry's strong safety record.
"We will continue as an industry to improve safety and as agents we will look to you to communicate that reassurance message," said Shanks.
Loyal cruise passengers will come back for more but families and first-timers are proving more difficult to convince.
He challenged agents to work harder to find first-timer cruisers.
"Agents have a unique advantage and a tremendous opportunity to say 'Have you ever considered going on a cruise?'," Shanks told delegates.
"First-timers see you as a source of recommendation and reassurance. You can encourage British travellers to think differently - and they won't be disappointed."
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