THE coronavirus crisis has dealt a major blow to Southampton after cruise giant Carnival UK announced a “large number of redundancies”.

The company refused to say how many people faced losing their jobs, but one source said staff had been told 450 positions were at risk.

Those who survive the cull will have their hours and pay cut by a fifth until November.

Carnival owns the historic P&O Cruises and Cunard lines and employs around 1,100 people locally.

In a video for staff, Carnival UK president Josh Weinstein said: “What started out several months ago as us avoiding a couple of port calls on our round world voyages had turned into a total shutdown of worldwide cruises and a global lockdown on society.”

He praised the “remarkable” performance of Carnival staff but said the long-term viability of the business “means having to make decisions that were unimaginable just a few months ago”.

He said the company had reviewed all levels of its organisation and “coming out of this review, we’re proposing a large number of redundancies as well as sabbaticals”.

He said the company wanted to minimise the number of job losses. “To that end, we’re asking that everyone remaining in the business reduce their work hours by 20 per cent from the start of July to the end of November, along with a corresponding 20 per cent reduction in pay during that time,” he said.

“While this a short term financial sacrifice, we truly hope that the increased time off work will give you much needed space to decompress and to look after your own mental health and wellbeing.

“What we have factored into all of this is the preservation of resources for the continued support of compliant, environmentally sound and safe operations and to allow ourselves the flexibility to successfully re-emerge when the time is right.”

A consultation on the job losses will end on June 30.

Mr Weinstein said: “I am truly sorry for the pain that this is going to cause but the hard truth is that if we don’t right-size the company and significantly reduce our cash burn during this devastating crisis, we may not successfully get to the other side of this – and I certainly don’t want to see the proud 180-year histories of P&O Cruises and Cunard wind down on our watch.”

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.”