The regeneration of Liverpool's waterfront has reached a major milestone with the new cruise liner facility welcoming its first vessels prior to an official opening ceremony later this month.
The arrival this weekend of the 46,000-tonne Seven Seas Voyager, operated by US-based Regent Cruises, marked the first time such large vessels have been able to berth alongside Liverpool's historic Pier Head since the early 1970s.
The Seven Seas Voyager arrived early Sunday morning and departed later that evening. She was followed today by the arrival of the Peter Deilmann cruise ship MS Deutschland on her two-day visit to the city.
Finishing touches to the 304m floating pontoon will continue to be made prior to the official opening ceremony on 21 September when the QE2 is due to arrive as part of her 40th anniversary celebrations.
Earlier this month,a three-day visit by HMS Ark Royal was cancelled following delays to the construction caused by this summer's severe weather conditions.
The cruise liner terminal consists of four inter-connected honeycomb concrete pontoons, anchored to piles driven 50ft into the river bedrock. The floating stage is wide enough to permit two-way traffic and accommodate 16 coaches, with final assembly of the accompanying vehicular bridge expected to be completed within the next few days. Airport-style passenger handling facilities include x-ray baggage inspection and tourist information centre.
Main contractors on the facility were Balfour Beatty together with Birkenhead-based subcontractor GCL.
Steve Broomhead, chief executive of the North West Development Agency (NWDA), said: "More than 25 cruises are expected to be tying up in Liverpool each year by 2009 and that will bring a new influx of tourists for the region's outstanding attractions while providing a boost to the economy."