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How Liverpool Cruise Terminal changed tourism in the city

3 months ago

By Lee O'Connor

How Liverpool Cruise Terminal changed tourism in the city

With news that a global cruise operator is negotiating with Liverpool City Council to take over the running of Liverpool Cruise Terminal, we look at the positive impact the terminal has had on the city. 

Early history 

Since the city built the world’s first enclosed commercial dock in 1715, 

Liverpool’s marine infrastructure has been considered one of the world’s best. 

And our role as a major player in transporting goods and passengers has been vital to the city’s growth and development for decades. 

Liverpool’s maritime history is unique and varied, from welcoming SS Savannah, the first steamship to cross the Atlantic in 1819, to serving as a base for world-famous Cunard and White Star shipping lines. 

Indeed, when UNESCO granted the city the title “Liverpool Maritime Mercantile City” in 2004, it was due to Liverpool being “the supreme example of a commercial port at a time of Britain’s greatest global influence. 

The Three Queens helped celebrate Cunard’s anniversary in 2015. Picture – Liverpool Cruise Terminal

The Modern Cruise Terminal

Liverpool Cruise Terminal was officially opened by the Duke of Kent in 2007 when the QE2 berthed at the terminal as part of her 40th anniversary tour. 

Developed alongside improvements to the Isle of Man ferry terminal, the 350-metre floating structure was funded by grants from the UK Government and European Development Fund. 

However, the £9.2 million grant from the government came with an unusual condition. 

To minimise unfair competition with ports built with private funding, like Southampton, Liverpool Cruise Terminal could only be used for port-of-calls, meaning cruises could not begin or end at the terminal. 

But in March 2012, the government agreed to a repayment offer from Liverpool City Council and lifted the restriction.  

This move allowed the likes of Fred Olsen, P&O Cruises, Marella Cruises and Ambassador Cruise Lines to offer customers the chance to sail from the city to global destinations. 

Since opening, Liverpool Cruise Terminal has welcomed more than 800 cruise ships into the city. These ships have brought over 1 million passengers and crew into Liverpool, generating £72 million for the local economy. 

Hospitality in the city centre has seen the greatest benefit, with tourists from across the world taking advantage of the famous Scouse welcome in our hotels, bars, restaurants, and attractions. 

What ships have visited Liverpool Cruise Terminal? 

Royal Navy Carrier HMS The Prince of Wales 

The Royal Navy Aircraft Carrier arrived in Liverpool in February 2020 for a week-long visit. Visitors were invited on board the new carrier for the first time as part of the celebrations. 

Virgin Cruise Ship, The Scarlet Lady 

February 2020 also saw the visit of Virgin’s The Scarlet Lady as part of her world tour. 

The stunning ship’s stop in the city was symbolic for Virgin boss Branson, as Liverpool was home to one of the first Virgin Records stores he opened. 

The Three Queens – The Queen Mary 2, The Queen Elizabeth and The Queen Victoria

In June 2015, Cunard’s Three Queens gathered together on the Mersey for the first time to celebrate the cruise line’s 175th anniversary. 

After performing a remarkable synchronised turn on the river, the visit of Queen Victoria, Queen Elizabeth and Queen Mary 2 will live long in the memory—the perfect salute to Cunard’s spiritual home. 

Disney Magic Cruise Liner

The Disney Magic Cruise Liner first sailed down the Mersey in 2016 and now visits the city yearly. 

Every visit is extraordinary, and the ship is everything you’d imagine from Disney, with a nine-hole mini golf course, basketball course, pools, hot tubs and The AquaDuck – a 233-metre water slide that winds over the edge of the ship and through its forward funnel. 

Credit: Fred. Olsen Cruise Lines
Credit: Fred. Olsen Cruise Lines

What’s next for Liverpool Cruise Terminal?  

According to reports, Global Ports Holding is discussing taking over the terminal, possibly as early as next year. 

The move could see GPH pick up the delayed project to build a new 108,000 ft terminal facility. 

Set to be built at the Princes Jetty on Princes Dock, the plans include a two-floor terminal with a baggage hall, passenger lounge, passport control and check-in desks. 



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