The Government has formally approved the upgrade of Liverpool's cruise facility to a terminal where journeys can start and finish.
It follows a year-long consultation over turnaround which has resulted in the city council agreeing to abide by a ruling over paying back the Government grant that was received for the construction of the facility.
An independent arbiter was brought in to make a recommendation because the terminal, which opened in 2007, was funded on the basis that it would be a 'call in' facility. The amount will be £8.8m as a lump-sum payment, or £12.6m if the council chooses to phase it over 15 years.
A temporary customs and baggage building, parking and drop off facilities is almost complete opposite the current facility on Princes Parade and will be ready in time for the arrival of the first turnaround vessel – the Ocean Countess – on Tuesday 29 May.
Newly-elected Mayor of Liverpool Joe Anderson said: "I am delighted that the pledge that I made to bring turnaround cruises to Liverpool is now set to become reality.
"This is the moment the whole city has been waiting for. It is a hugely significant milestone in our future and vitally important to the success of our local economy.
"It will provide a big boost to our tourism industry, with each vessel worth up to £1m, creating and sustaining many jobs.
"Liverpool has an unrivalled maritime history and we are now on the way to restoring our reputation as a leading cruise destination.
"For far too long, holiday makers in the north have had to travel to and from other places to start their journeys, and this will return Liverpool to its rightful place as a major cruise port."
The temporary building is being leased during the cruise season from 2012-2015 to provide check in, baggage drop and reclaim, as well as customs and border facilities, and a new internal road has also been created. Plans for a permanent facility including a hotel will be drawn up in the longer term.
The city council forecasts the turnaround facility will have around a 5% share of an expanding UK cruise market – comparable with the percentage of the market enjoyed by the Peel owned Langton Dock facility at its peak. Southampton currently has a market share of over 65%.
The Ocean Countess is scheduled to visit 12 times during the 2012 cruise season. In addition, a total of 20 'day call' vessels are also confirmed, with around 30,000 passengers expected, generating up to £6m for the local economy.