Liverpool Cruise Terminal
The Liverpool Cruise Terminal is a 350-metre-long (1,150 ft) floating structure situated on the River Mersey enabling large cruise ships to visit without entering the enclosed dock system or berthing mid-river and tendering passengers ashore. The terminal was officially opened on 21 September 2007 by HRH The Duke of Kent when the Queen Elizabeth 2 berthed at the terminal.
The £19 million facility is capable of accommodating vessels of 345 metres (1,132 ft) in length and 10 metres (33 ft) draft. The terminal was mostly funded by grants of £9 million from the UK government and £8.6 million from the European Regional Development Fund.
The cruise terminal was developed in conjunction with improvements to the Isle of Man ferry terminal, operated by the Isle of Man Steam Packet Company. The Royal Navy also berths ships at the terminal several times a year, often allowing the public to visit the ships.
The £9.2 million grant from the UK government came with the strange condition that the terminal could only be used for cruise port-of-calls, which meant cruises would not be allowed to begin or end at the terminal. "Turnaround" visits generate more revenue for the port and city than port-of-calls. The reason for the strange restriction was that it was to minimize unfair competition with other ports that had been built with private funding, particularly Southampton. Liverpool City Council tried unsuccessfully to have this restriction removed in 2009. In July 2011, the council offered to pay back part of the UK government funding in exchange for being allowed turnaround visits, which led Associated British Ports, the owner of Southampton Docks, to take legal advice. The Southampton Chamber of Commerce collected 12,000 signatures on a petition against the change. Liverpool city council did cite that £70 million of public money was spent in upgrading the rail link from Southampton Docks to the Midlands container terminals competing directly with the Port of Liverpool. This fell on deaf ears. However, in March 2012, the government agreed a repayment offer from Liverpool Council and construction of a temporary terminal buildings began on the shore and floating terminal landing stage.
On Tuesday, 29 May 2012 a cruise began from the Pier Head for the first time in 40 years, when Ocean Countess departed on a cruise to the Norwegian fjords. From 2014 Liverpool will be the home port of Thomson Spirit, which will operate cruises out of Liverpool.
The cruise terminal is part of the £5.5 billion Liverpool Waters scheme to regenerate 60 hectares of dockland in Liverpool. The terminal received UK Government approval in March 2013, after Liverpool City Council approved the scheme in March 2012.
A second Cruise terminal is planned as a part of the Liverpool Waters scheme.
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