Liverpool waterfront, c Phil Kiel on Unsplash

Liverpool City Council wants to end its lease of the Liverpool Cruise Terminal. Credit: Phil Kiel on Unsplash

Liverpool City Council to pull out of cruise terminal

After 15 years of operating the Liverpool Cruise Terminal, the local authority is looking to surrender its lease to make way for a third party to run the facility – while also jumping ship on its plans for a new one.

A report from Liverpool City Council culture and economy scrutiny committee meeting next week outlines the city council’s intent to pull out of the cruise liner business. By surrendering its lease to statutory port authority The Mersey Docks and Harbour Company, the city council will be freed from any financial responsibility or liability attached to the cruise terminal infrastructure.

It also spells the end of the city council’s involvement in developing a new facility at the Princes Jetty on Princes Dock – a project that has nearly doubled in price since achieving outline planning consent in 2018.

Why the change?

Surrendering the lease of the Liverpool Cruise Terminal will help the city council avoid further running costs, with the cruise terminal operating on a net shortfall of several hundred thousand a year. There is also a future need to replace pontoons, which would cost the city council between £8m and £9m.

Regarding the activity of the cruise terminal itself, Liverpool’s head of city assets Angie Redhead said that the only visible change would be the logo above the door – and that all the ships lined up to arrive until 2026 would proceed as planned.

Redhead stated that the local authority is already in talks with a potential third-party operator. While she did not name the company, she did say it was a global operator that had developed similar projects in the Caribbean and was keen to have a footprint in the Irish Sea.

This company had been speaking with the city council about taking over the terminal in March 2020, but talks had been paused during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Cllr Harry Doyle, the lead cabinet member for health, wellbeing, and culture, acknowledged that the city council’s withdrawal from operating the cruise terminal does, on its face, look rather negative.

But he sees it differently.

“We took [the terminal] to a place where it has come from strength to strength,” Doyle said. He added that this moment is more like “a baby bird flying from the nest to grow”.

Redhead agreed. “It has achieved what it was built to do, which was drive economic benefit into the city”.

Cllr Nick Small, cabinet member for growth and economy, added that the cruise liner terminal was an example of how the city’s administration under Leader Cllr Liam Robinson would operate.

“What we want to do is put investment in, pump, prime, and develop a sector and move on and put investment into whatever the next thing is going to be that create jobs,” Small said.

The cruise liner terminal, he argued, has done that. “We’ve gone from a situation of having no cruise industry in Liverpool to the success we have now,” he said.

Small anticipates using money saved from cruise liner terminal expenditure to help build up the city’s life sciences, advanced manufacturing, and creative and digital industries.

“This isn’t about dis-investment,” Small said. “This is about saying that we’ve got to a stage where we’re really resilient and it’s time for the private sector to step up.”

What about the new terminal?

Plans for a 108,000 sq ft terminal have been in the works for years, during which costs have skyrocketed from £50m to close to £90m. Stride Treglown was the architect of the scheme, while McLaughlin & Harvey had been lined up to build it.

As a result of the rising costs, the city council is scuppering its promise to deliver the facility. It just does not have that kind of capital cash in its coffers.

Small said: “Even if we did have £90m sitting around, the critical question would be if that is the best way to invest it, or would we want to look at something else.”

However, dreams of a new terminal are not dashed, with a third party able to pick up where the local authority has left out.

The company that the city council is in talks with would be, in theory, capable of also taking on this project. This means there is some hope for a new cruise liner terminal – but far from any guarantee.

What’s next?

Following the scrutiny committee meeting, the city council’s cabinet will vote on the cruise terminal’s fate. Redhead noted that if all goes to plan, the legals for a new operator to take over the cruise liner terminal could be complete by April.

Your Comments

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The £230 million the council have written off (council tax debts) would easily have covered the cost of a real terminal. Shame on Labour and their robotic voters!

By Anonymous

I understand why they have made this decision, but not to do anything for the past few years is a poor show. The tents and temporary structures should have been replaced years ago with something more fitting and in Portland stone. Why hasn’t LCC applied for EU (pre brexit) leveling up or development/infrastructure bank funding. Perhaps Nick Small can answer that question. There should be a concerted effort to get Princes Dock full developed with all remaining plots being hotels, apartments and offices with the cruise terminal as the jewel in the crown. No other UK city has such an amazing set up, so take full advantage of that and sell it across the world.

By GetItBuilt!

Why is this written in such a negative tone? It’s been known for a good while now the cou cil has been looking for a 3rd party to take over and invest the capital needed to push the terminal forward, so potentially securing one is great news. Will be great to see a purpose build terminal in place and finally start to see prince’s dock come to fruition.

By L17

This decision is based on commercial considerations (business profit and loss accounting). So, the Cruise Terminal should be shut, which would delight Tories, saving ‘The Taxpayer’ lots of money, supposedly. But, from an Economics standpoint, this will cost the Liverpool region a loss of millions each year incl. lost tax revenue. There is a huge conceptual difference between Business Accounting and Economics. But who understands that difference.

By Anonymous

    To clarify – the cruise terminal isn’t shutting down. The City Council is just not going to be the one running it going forward.

    By Julia Hatmaker

Good news £88m worth I believe according to other sources?

By Liverpolitis

Negative headline and tone. This is purely a public asset being transferred in to private control. That always comes with risks as it does the world over, that’s common sense. The alternative is that the cruise terminal cannot expand under the Council’s current model.

By Liverpool Gent

This is a complete farce but not a surprise. The current LCC could not manage a corner shop. The city has a golden opportunity to attract huge cruise liner traffic yet has kicked the can along and now withdrawn. Other cities would relish this opportunity and welcome the chance to have wealthy tourist visiting and spending in the city. Imagine the sight of a huge cruise liner moored next to the new Everton stadium ? it would look amazing. LCC are a waste of space , I despair.

By Paul M

Liverpool city council over the last 10 years have shown they are utterly hopeless at growing the City. This is good news we need more private investment into the city.

By Paul84

Yet they are going to waste multi millions building a Bridge from the Maritime Museum to Canning Dock and other ridiculous ideas to ruin the waterfront.

By Anon

Liverpool city council all over never look to the future just like Liverpool airport and the tram system we are Manchesters poor relation who have always invested.

By Anonymous

Another missed opportunity, LCC have had planning for a new Terminal and Hotel for 5 years.


I wonder if Manchester is looking at the opportunity

By Woolyback

Hard to make a cruise terminal work anywhere other than the south coast. Liverpool’s heyday as a great port is long gone , the world has moved on. Time to face the future and invest in other things.

By Anonymous

Perhaps the title should be re written, this is a story about a Global Terminal operator approaching LCC to take over the terminal and propose a £88m new one
Thank you.

By Liverpolitis

    Hi Liverpolitis – the global terminal operator has made no commitments to building a new terminal. The city council has only noted that it would be capable of doing so, if the company wished to.

    By Julia Hatmaker

If talks with the private sector have gone on pre 2020 why were the Council stringing us along till early this year saying they were going to build it? Anyway if this is for real it should lead to a number of good outcomes,first the private sector will build a much bigger and better hotel than the city council planned, second Cunard can start sailing direct to NY and across the Atlantic thus saving passengers across the North a trek to Southampton , Peel can start looking for developers on the site of the current terminal either for offices, hotel, or residential.

By Anonymous

I’ve cruised around most of the Caribbean and worked in the Caribbean Islands, these islands have proper cruise terminals and good public transport nearby , even southampton has a proper cruise terminal with long stay car parks next to cruise ship Berths , what’s Liverpools version of a cruise terminal a Tent, a disgrace for a a historic maritime city , thanks god this council are not having anything else to do with it , a third party company may make a facility worthy of this cities maritime connections and history,
Great news I say !!!

By Dowlo

This is a negative headline. I have just read on another Liverpool business web site “ Liverpool CC in talks with global cruise operator to take over the running of the terminal with a view to investing £88 million in a new terminal.” A more balanced headline would have attracted less negativity

By David

    Hi David – While I agree that it would be nice to write “with a view to investing £88m in a new terminal”, I was informed that that sentence would not be accurate. While the third party operator has a development background and would take over operations of the current cruise line terminal, it has made no commitment to investing in building a new one. But it could, if it wanted to, as the story states.

    By Julia Hatmaker

Sounds like the contractors were taking advantage of a publicly funded project? Much like a certain High Speed Rail project.

It seems impossible for Public projects and initiatives to make money, yet Private investors swoop in and generate huge profits. The Tory way.

By Anonymous

Typical of Liverpool council

By Anonymous

This is a negative headline from PNW, however the story is rather positive. A private developer could make a small fortune over the medium to long term. Build an iconic terminal with a 4-5 star hotel attached, and become part of an iconic waterfront for years to come.

By Tom

Wow talk about putting a negative spin on things…suits the narrative about the Council and all of hte outsiders who like to pile on. The Council has been terrible and needs a reboot…oh wait they have new people in place! The Council cannot afford to subsidise the project as they are having another huge swathe of funding cuts. Private sector investment is always welcomed on this site but apparently just not here. Shameful take IMO

By Ade

Let’s hope this new operator has deep pockets and big ambitions for the site

By Stuart wood

No wonder Liverpool has constant money problems. How can they allow people to not pay council tax to the extent of£230 million and then just write it off? Of course they will blame the Conservatives as usual. We have too many none jobs in the councils employment for all the useless woke reasons. Labour in Liverpool make one mess after another and the blinkered voters still re-elect them. Madness.

By D Allen

I really don’t think we need a fancy cruise terminal. Walking off a ship straight onto the Pier Head is as good as any other city that a cruise ship visits. We’ve docked in the middle of an industrial port with a 20min walk to the centre on a cruise… it’s just part of what you do. I think the council are making the right decision making savings here. Liverpool is already a city that thousands of people want to visit and the money can be spent elsewhere.

By Mary

Just typical Liverpool council mentality. A potential gold mine in the making. The cruise industry is at an all time high. These clowns don’t have the business acumen to make it a viable concern. Hopefully a private enterprise will develop the Liverpool cruise industry and fund the building of a terminal which Liverpool can be proud of. If Manchester had a river like ours you can bet your bottom dollar Southampton would be second to it.

By Steve Hart

I hope it can be improved and developed, it would save me an awful long drive. However other than sailing around the UK and Ireland or the occasional trip north to Iceland or Norway the cruise lines favour being closer to the continent for cost reasons and infrastructure. It’s a hard sell apparently, even repositioning cruises back to New York or the Caribbean. Still I live in hope and have been for some years now.

By Capn jack

Could be the best option, may get somewhere with a new cruise terminal now for which there is a massive need.

By Janet Moorby

As the then councillor who was given the cruise terminal idea from Pam Brown and brought it to fruition, I find this so disappointing. The city should cherish its assets not flog them iff to the private sector.

By Flo Clucas

Southampton makes a fortune out of the cruise industry and has the infrastructure to provide a quality service and make the experience memorable. Liverpool gets plenty of praise from those visiting from cruise ships, now the next stage should be to grow the sector where the city is used as a turnaround port with cruises starting and finishing here. This will include more berths,more hotels, a quality cruise terminal,plus hundreds of jobs supplying and servicing these ships, and the private sector is best served to do this.

By Anonymous

Waste of space these decisions by Redhead are wasting millions and destroying our wonderful Landing stage.

By Anonymous

@D Allen anyone who uses the word “woke” isn’t making a serious argument. Bit weird PNW would publish that comment.

By Levelling Up Manager

As usual the slow speed and short sighted Labour Council are killing the golden goose.

By Anonymous

Cruise liners are very polluting – the new ones are better but still bad. Do the ships have the option of plugging in to electrical power sources while docked – and if the do, do they actually use them? There are issues about cruise ships coming to Liverpool that never seem to be discussed.

By A - Halecott

Let face it planning will be a nightmare for any potential investment so its dead water

By Anonymous

This has been dragging on for so many years now. Regardless of where the money will come from I just can’t see a business case to really get the infrastructure in Place that Southampton has. Some improvements might come but no more than that, and that was pretty much the prediction all those years ago, it’s not the councils fault this time, it’s just the business model.

By Anonymous

Great news, potential investment and a new terminal plus new cruise lines and employment,
This will transform the cruise industry here in Liverpool if and hopefully when it happens.

By Liverpool4Progress

Look I get it that we need to make money from anything that comes into our city and rightly so just look at what we have achieved so you just can’t let this go if nobody wants it but peel holdings looks a good bet always looking to invest along the Mersey so good luck and make the right choice

By Steve

Look at what Southampton have done. There is an example.

By Anonymous

@Nov 9, 10.39am, you say cruise liners are polluting and imply they are bad for Liverpool, you could say most cargo vessels and ferries are polluting, so what do we do, close the port? The shipping industry is getting cleaner so things will get better, but please don’t single out Liverpool,all ports are in the same situation so let’s not play the martyr again as cruising wont go away and Liverpool should take full advantage of it and that means building a proper terminal.

By Anonymous

Liverpool port used to be the biggest port in the world as my father was a seaman for many years Liverpool sea port as been run down politically as everything has moved to the south of England it’s the big NORTH SOUTH DEVIDE And it will never change

By Anonymous

Update and it good news for Liverpool cruise industry

Global Ports Holdings will take Liverpool cruising tourism to new heights as our waterfront enters a new era.

The company, which has operations throughout the Americas, the Mediterranean and Asia is a multi award-winning operator with positive growth in all sectors of its business. Now they have focused their attentions on Liverpool.

Liverpool city council had been running our cruise facility since 2007 but is exiting this role. This was probably the plan all along as they established and grew our cruise offer.

Future Liverpool expects upgraded facilities, a cruise hotel to be built along side the present cruise terminal for layovers, and a new second cruise terminal will now be built.

This will impact our city positively as we grow, providing a new injection of income from ever-growing visitor numbers.

A balance must be struck however. Venice has recently sort to curtail cruise visitor numbers as its city is regularly swamped and overrun with tourists. Global Port Holdings runs the Venice cruise operations.

By Anonymous

If we could get half the number of cruise tourists Venice gets I’d be delighted, Venice is unique and it’s streets are tightly packed, unlike Liverpool which is better spread out eg it takes about 30 mins to get from the Pierhead to Hope St and the Cathedrals, about 1.2 miles.
Once the IOM ferry berth relocates there should be room for 2 cruise ships to berth at the Pierhead, also room for big hotels on Princes Dock, much larger than the small affair the Council had proposed.

By Anonymous

Liverpool is no Venice and the biggest issue is it’s in the wrong location. The business case is a difficult one for cruise lines not just the city council.

By Anonymous

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