In a decision impacting Liverpool’s cruise industry, the local City Council has announced plans to relinquish control of the Liverpool Cruise Terminal. This move aims to invite third-party investment and management to enhance the terminal’s operations while ensuring the city continues to reap economic benefits.
Liverpool’s cruise terminal has been an overwhelming success in terms of building up cruise ship calls to the city. However, in the last 15 years, operating costs have prevented the cruise terminal from turning over a profit, leaving Liverpool City Council with a yearly deficit.
The Liverpool Cruise Terminal, operational since 2007, stands in a city with an incredibly rich seafaring history, with millions of people sailing from the city to the New World. After a 19-million-pound development funded by government grants, the cruise terminal has become an increasingly popular destination for cruise ships.
While the terminal has been a landmark for the Mersey Waterfront and a symbol of local pride, it has struggled financially. Berthing fees, despite contributing to income, have been overshadowed by the costs related to maintenance, staffing, and other operational expenses.
The net result has been a consistent financial deficit for the Cruise Terminal operator, the Liverpool City Council. This has now led the council to bring up the idea of relinquishing management of the Cruise Terminal to a third party.
Councillor Nick Small, cabinet member for growth and economy, stated to Place North West on the terminal’s trajectory: “We’ve gone from a situation of having no cruise industry in Liverpool to the success we have now.”
The proposed solution is for the Council to step back from direct management and allow a third party to take the helm. This approach is expected to retain the terminal’s economic and social contributions to the city, with the added benefit of potential job creation. At the same time, it removes the financial burden from the council, allowing it to spend the money elsewhere.
The council has already spoken to one international cruise terminal operator, although it did not divulge which one. Most likely, it would be a company such as Global Ports Holding, which has been aggressively taking over and constructing new cruise terminals in Europe, the Caribbean, and Asia.
One requirement would be to do this sustainably, aligning with international environmental regulations and promises for a greener approach to cruising in Liverpool.
The decision from the Liverpool City Council can be seen as a purely financial decision, and not one based on Liverpool’s popularity as a cruise destination. The city remains one of the UK’s most popular ports of call, considering the number of cruise ships that are scheduled to visit the city in 2024.
A total of 32 cruise ships from most major cruise operators have calls scheduled next year, for a total of 189 calls. Ships set to make one or more calls to Liverpool include Norwegian Star from Norwegian Cruise Line, Carnival Legend from Carnival Cruise Line, Crystal Symphony from Crystal Cruises, and Ms Rotterdam and Ms Statendam from Holland America Line, amongst others.
The future of the Liverpool Cruise Terminal might soon be in the hands of a third-party operator, but it does not mean that the future of the cruise industry in Liverpool is in jeopardy.
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