Liverpool City Council's cabinet has approved the award of contracts to construct the temporary building, parking and drop-off facilities for the new cruise liner terminal subject to planning approvals.
The as yet unnamed contractors are expected to finish the terminal by the end of May 2012. The council said the contractors will not be named until legal agreements are finalised.
The terminal will be an upgrade of the existing cruise liner berth, allowing liners to begin and end their voyages, generating more trade than a simple port of call cruise facility. Liverpool has agreed to repay European grants that funded the cruise liner facility to overcome state aid barriers to the move. A decision is awaited from government on how much of the £9.2m will have to be repaid.
The first turnaround cruise vessel, the Ocean Countess, is scheduled to use the facility on 29 May.
The interim facility will be created on a vacant plot of land owned by Peel Ports opposite the current facility on Princes Parade.
Cllr Joe Anderson, leader of Liverpool City Council, said: "This is a huge moment for Liverpool and means for the first time in decades we have the prospect of big liners starting and ending their voyages in the city.
"I pledged when I became leader that this was a top priority, and we are now on the verge of delivering on it.
"Cruising is big business because it means tourists who come here and spend money in the local economy.
"The cruise liner terminal has already been a huge success – but this will allow us to take it to the next level because we anticipate huge demand for people to start and end their holidays in Liverpool.
"For far too long, holiday makers in the north west have had to travel to and from other ports to start their journeys. This move will return Liverpool to its rightful place as a major cruise port."
The temporary building will be 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 will also be created.
Cllr Malcolm Kennedy, cabinet member for regeneration, said: "We are grateful to the Government for giving us a fair hearing on this matter and are getting everything in place so we can take advantage of turnaround as soon as this issue is resolved.
"We have a proud maritime heritage and there is no better feeling than being able to sail in and out of your home city."
The city council forecasts that Liverpool will at most reach a 5% share of the UK cruise market. Rival Southampton, which has objected to Liverpool's upgrade, currently has a market share of 65%.
In addition, a total of 20 'day call' vessels are already confirmed for Liverpool's 2012 cruise season with around 30,000 passengers expected, generating an additional £6m for the local economy.