Carnival offers hope for new Liverpool cruise terminal

A surge in growth for the world’s biggest cruise company offers hope that Liverpool’s new £50m cruise terminal may go ahead. Tony McDonough reports

Regal Princess
Regal Princess, a Carnival vessel, at Liverpool Cruise Terminal. Picture by Tony McDonough


A surge in bookings in 2022 for the world’s largest cruise ship owner offers hope that Liverpool’s long-planned £50m new cruise terminal could go ahead.

In a trading update covering the second quarter of 2022, Carnival Corporation said its revenues rocketed 50% in April, May and June. Booking volumes for future sailings in the period were nearly double the booking volumes during the first quarter of 2022.

Carnival has a huge 45% state of the global cruise market. Its brands include Cunard, Princess Cruises, P&O Cruises, Aida Cruises and Costa, Europe’s biggest cruise line. Vessels from all of these brands regularly call at Liverpool’s current cruise facility.

This was built in 2007 but a bigger and more permanent facility has been planned for several years. Incorporating a terminal building and a hotel, the terminal would offer an increased capacity.

However, the COVID-19 pandemic forced Liverpool City Council to put that project on hold. Last year the city council said it would not be in a position to make a decision on a new terminal until 2023. And LBN revealed in May that the decision may be pushed back to 2024. This is due to a lack of visibility on the health of the cruise market.

Last summer there was a strong recovery with more than 100 cruises returning to Liverpool, bringing 80,000 passengers to the city. This year the terminal will once again welcome more than 100 cruise calls, providing an estimated £15m boost to the city.

Even before the latest figures from Carnival the Cruise Lines International Association said passenger numbers were likely to exceed pre-pandemic levels by the end of 2023. They are projected to be 12% higher than before COVID by the end of 2026. And a number of new vessels are already on order.

These latest figures may put more pressure one the city council to bring forward the decision. However, there are also concerns among some councillors that the growth of the cruise sector runs contrary to the city’s zero carbon ambitions.

However, in May, the authority was urged to move more quickly on the cruise terminal by Chris Shirling-Rooke, chief executive of industry body Mersey Maritime. He said: “Don’t play around with our future.”

Mr Shirling-Rooke pointed out that Liverpool’s big cruise rival Southampton had already opened its £55m Horizon Cruise Terminal. The facility offers solar panels and plug-in charging for vessels. Mersey Maritime is pushing for Merseyside to play a central role in the decarbonisation of the maritime sector.


The current Liverpool Cruise Terminal opened in 2007. Picture by Ian Fairbrother
Chris Shirling-Rooke
Mersey Maritime chief executive Chris Shirling-Rooke. Picture by Tony McDonough


Mr Shirling-Rooke added: “If we don’t make the big calls now, together as a region, we’ll be left behind. We have some of the best academic institutions on the planet and some of the most innovative maritime businesses anywhere in the country.

“They are already looking at alternative fuels and ways to deliver decarbonisation and digitisation in an industry worth more than £5bn to our local economy. As a coastal community we’ve literally led the world in maritime innovation for centuries ,what a fantastic opportunity to show our world class credentials once more.

“Mersey Maritime wants to see our incredible, diverse and dynamic coastal community capitalise on this economic and transformative opportunity, and we stand ready to support this project in anyway we can.”

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