Liverpool claims victory in the battle over its Pier Head cruise terminal

/, Cruise News/Liverpool claims victory in the battle over its Pier Head cruise terminal

A surprise announcement today from Liverpool, where the city council is claiming that its Pier Head terminal will be in business for cruise turnarounds within three months.
The terminal, built with public money from the Government and Europe, has been at the centre of a row with rivals including Southampton who claimed it would provide unfair competition.
After a Government inquiry, shipping minister Mike Penning decided last month to seek independent advice on the amount Liverpool should repay and council leader Joe Anderson conceded the city’s cruise hopes were “back to square one.”
But the council has now agreed to repay whatever amount is required – probably between £5m and £9m to the Government and possibly up to £8m more to the EU – and is planning to erect a baggage and customs facility alongside the pier.
They say the money will be repaid in annual instalments, based on revenue from cruise ship turnarounds, but have not put a time scale on the payments.
Anderson told the Liverpool Post: “I am very excited about what will be a new era for us. I promised this would be my top priority when I was elected council leader.
“I have written to the shipping minister to confirm we will abide by whatever the independent panel rules we should repay. We will put in a planning application over the next few weeks to build a secure temporary baggage and customs facility at Princes Dock plot 7, opposite the Royal Liver Building.
“Also we are talking to the Isle of Man Steam Packet about sharing its facilities on the landing stage. It is my vision to grow the cruise industry for Liverpool to match the halcyon days of the past.”
However, he appears to be living in the past himself when he says: “We have been already talking to many cruise lines and could also see an Ocean Village liner using the terminal this summer.”
The Ocean Village cruise line – which advertised itself as “the cruise line for people who don’t do cruises” – doesn’t do cruises any more. It was closed down in 2010 and its ships have been transferred to P&O Australia.
The Post says the first cruise ship likely to depart from the Pier Head terminal will be Cruise & Maritime VoyagesOcean Countess on May 29, although passengers arriving in the port by car will still have to park at the former terminal in Langton Dock, Bootle, and will be transferred to Pier head by shuttle bus.
Southampton port director Doug Morrison said: “Our position has been straightforward all along. We have never had an issue with cruises starting and ending in Liverpool, but we believe the cruise industry should be run on a commercial basis and that there is no place for public subsidy of any kind.
“Full repayment of all the public money, including the European grants, should be a mandatory condition if the Liverpool terminal wants to compete with private investment for the turnaround cruise business.”
Liverpool’s announcement came on the same day that Fred Olsen Cruise Lines announced that their 880-passenger ship Boudicca would return to the city in 2013. The company has no ships turning round in Liverpool this year, having pulled out because of problems using Langton Dock, which is a largely industrial facility.
Boudicca will sail 10 cruises from Liverpool between April and August next year, and another two from Belfast. Matt Grimes, Olsen’s director of planning, said: “After a year’s absence, we are excited to be returning to Liverpool for the summer 2013 cruise season. Our loyal guests have asked us to do so and I am sure that they will be delighted that, once again, they will be able to enjoy a Fred. Olsen cruise without having a long journey to a south coast port to start their holiday.”
The itineraries include a 12-night voyage to the Canary Islands in April and a four-night mini cruise in August.
Grimes claims that with the addition of Harwich to the regional ports on its schedules, the company has vessels operating within a radius of 100 miles from 90 per cent of the UK population.
Phil Nuttall, whose Cruise Village agency is based in Blackpool, said: “Fred Olsen’s announcement is brilliant news for my customers. It will be absolutely ideal if the Liverpool plan gets the go-ahead as well.
“Many of Fred Olsen’s cruises depart from Dover, and the journey there from the north-west can be horrendous. Boudicca is the right ship for us, and I am hoping the prices will be competitive. It’s going to be very exciting.”

By | 2017-06-15T15:59:55+00:00 3 February 2012|Cruise Destinations, Cruise News|0 Comments

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John Honeywell is a travel writer specialising in cruise ships and cruise travel. Winner of CLIA UK's Contribution to Cruise award 2017.

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