Cruise specialist travel agents have paid tribute to Cruise & Maritime Voyages (CMV) after the line fell into administration after failing to refinance.

The demise of the ex-UK specialist line was dubbed “very sad news” and a “big loss to the industry”.

CMV had six ships, with a seventh on the way – and had sold 90% of its 2020 capacity before the Covid-19 pandemic caused global travel restrictions, including UK Foreign Office advice against cruise travel.

Fred Olsen Travel, which has five shops on the south coast in its travel agency network, and also sold CMV through its GoCruise franchise, had 180 forward bookings in total.

Head of commercial Paul Hardwick said: “To lose CMV is awful for our industry – it’s very sad news.

“They were one of our top cruise line partners as the brand fitted our client age demographic as being 70-plus.”

He noted that the port of Tilbury, where CMV had departures for its ex-UK sailings, was easily accessible from its agencies in East Anglia as well as those on the south coast, and often attracted group bookings for CMV cruises.

“We had 60 forward bookings from the shops and around 120 forward bookings for our Go Cruise franchisees, so it is significant for us,” Hardwick said. “We’ve been working to help with alternative options with other cruise lines and to contact clients to reassure them around Abta and Atol.”

Phil Nuttall, chief executive of the Travel Village Group, parent to Blackpool agency The Cruise Village, said: “What’s happened to CMV is really upsetting, you can’t help but feel helpless in these situations.

“It’s a massive shame, especially when you look at the news and see advances being made on a possible vaccine which would be a game changer for travel. It’s a big loss to the industry, we’re all in this together.”

James Cole, founder and managing director of cruise agency Panache Cruises, said: “We are sorry to hear of the news of Cruise and Maritime Voyages. They had a great reputation in the market and a loyal customer base. It’s a sad day for the British cruise industry.”