Fred Olsen Cruise Lines has said it is “very likely” that agents will be able to experience “one or two days” on board its news ships Bolette and Borealis when they come into service.

Managing director Peter Deer said the trade was a really important distribution channel for the brand and was keen to show off the two new 1,400-passenger vessels it has just bought from Holland America Line.

HAL’s Amsterdam and Rotterdam (pictured) ships will join Fred, and be renamed Bolette and Borealis.

“We’re working on the plan at the moment,” he said on a Travel Weekly webcast. “And if we’ve got it right – and I can’t really say today – but it’s very likely that when they go back into service, there is an opportunity to have one or two days on board. That’s our plan. We’re just refining it at the moment.”

Deer said Fred Olsen had tried its best to fully support agent partners throughout the lockdown.

“We’ve done some restructuring within our sales and our marketing team and ‘restructuring’ does mean we’ve lost some of the team. But it doesn’t mean that we don’t want to have strong travel trade support; in fact, we want stronger travel trade support. And throughout this whole pause of operations we’ve done here, at all times, we’ve tried to support the difficulty travel agents have actually had during this time, managing the refunds or managing customers’ expectations,” he said.

“We’ve kept a high number of our staff employed – we could have put them many of them on furlough – to make sure that our guest services can actually manage that whole process from customer, to the travel agent, through to us so that we can actually manage to process efficiently.”

Deer added: “At the same time, where the guest has decided to cancel, we’ve still paid the commissions based on what we think was fair to the travel agent. It’s really important that, as a business, the brand should always be talking really loudly about Fred Olsen Cruise Lines and what we do really well, and how it fits certain types of guests.

“But our sales avenues should be really wide and the travel trade in one big way of selling for us and we really work really want them to continue to support us and now we’ve got two new ships, we want them to support us even more with our increasing capacity.”