Carnival UK confirmed today that consultation has started with staff over possible redundancies.

The Southampton-based parent of P&O Cruises and Cunard is consulting “across all levels” of the business amid the global pause of the cruise industry.

No number has been put on the level of jobs likely to be affected.

However, the Southampton-based Southern Daily Echo reported that as many as 450 out of 1,600 were at risk and that other staff were being placed on reduced hours and pay between July and November.

A Carnival UK spokesman said: “We have begun a period of consultation with our staff in Southampton across all levels of the business.

“Our priority is to treat everyone with fairness and respect and to have open and honest conversations. These changes, whilst very difficult, are to ensure the future sustainability of our business.

“The Covid-19 pandemic has not only affected the holidays of our guests but it has also impacted every part of our business; our future deployment; the guest experience; our supply chain and our people on ship and on shore.

“During our pause in operations we have tried to create as much certainty and stability as possible for our staff in Southampton and crew on board our ships.

“Unfortunately though and like many businesses, as Covid-19 has continued to impact our way of life it is necessary to make changes to our organisation to build a stable platform for the time we phase our ships back into service and for future growth.”