Travel agents wanting to sail on Carnival Cruise Lines at a reduced rate will have to sell a minimum of five cabins in a 12-month period to qualify, under new eligibility requirements set by the cruise line.

The line cited a limited number of available reduced-rate cabins and a desire to reserve those cabins for agents who sell Carnival as its reasons for setting the new rule. 

"There are so many different business models out there in the travel distribution system now that it is becoming increasingly important to ensure that only professional travel agents who are actively promoting and selling cruises are receiving travel agent discounts," said Vicki Freed, Carnival's senior vice president of sales and guest services.

The qualifying bookings must have already sailed or be fully deposited within a 12-month period and booked by the agent requesting the travel professional discount.

Freed said that Carnival's new quota was not implemented due to any abuse of its existing policy.

"Travel agents did not always understand that we were very selective and careful about who got on our ship at reduced rates," Freed said. "We always looked at productivity and qualified it here."

Freed said that Carnival had previously denied agent rates to about 30 travel agencies with agents who were solid producers and others who were not. The new policy puts sellers from those companies on the same playing field as other agencies.

"With these large groups, there is volume. Somebody is selling it," Freed explained.  "We just want to make sure that we are not rewarding people who just are members of this group. We want to identify the professional travel agents.

"We have such limited space," she added. "I think we needed to say that the few cabins that become available have to go to the right people." 

To contact reporter Johanna Jainchill, send e-mail to [email protected].

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