Exclusive: Cruise terminal global operator revealed

A company looking to take over Liverpool Cruise Terminal and press ahead with building a new £88m facility is the biggest cruise terminal operator in the world, LBN can reveal. Tony McDonough reports

Cruise vessel Borealis at Liverpool cruise terminal. Picture by Status Imagery


Liverpool Cruise Terminal could be run by the biggest cruise terminal operator in the world by next summer.

LBN can reveal that Global Ports Holding (GPH), which has an annual turnover of £175m, is the business being lined up to take over the Mersey facility. Last year GPH’s terminals across the world handled a record 9.2m cruise passengers.

Last week, LBN revealed that Liverpool City Council, which opened its cruise terminal off Princes Dock in 2007, was looking to surrender its lease, handing it back to site owner Peel Ports.

This move, said Liverpool’s head of assets and former Cruise Liverpool boss Angie Redhead, would pave the way for the private operator to take control of the terminal, possibly as early as summer 2024.

Global Ports Holding first approached the city council in March 2020 but those initial talks ground to a halt when the COVID pandemic threw the world into chaos just weeks later.

COVID was devastating for the global cruise industry but it has since bounced back spectacularly. This year Liverpool Cruise Terminal handled around 150 vessels. At the start of its operations in 2007 just three ships sailed up the Mersey.

Talk between the council and GPH resumed post-pandemic but the council has signed a confidentiality agreement which meant it was unable to reveal the identity of the potential suitor.

Any deal would see GPH initially take control of the current facility. This move would save the city £500,000 in annual costs. It will also save the council from having to meet capital costs of more than £15m to keep the current facility operational.

But LBN also understands the company is keen to pick up the project to build a new terminal. This was originally meant to cost £50m but the scheme ballooned to £88m. Even with £20m from the Combined Authority it is a commitment the council cannot take on.

Angie told LBN last week: “In March 2020 we were approached by a global operator who does a lot of development, predominantly in the Caribbean. They were really keen but two weeks later, lockdown happened and those conversations went cold.

“The industry was hit hard by COVID but it has bounced back a lot quicker than anyone expected, particularly in Liverpool. So we reopened those conversations with that third party.

“They are a one-stop shop and they are keen to invest. They operate a number of cruise terminals around the world and they have built a number of cruise terminals around the world and they want to get a foothold in the Irish Sea.”

Senior Liverpool councillors are being asked to agree to a proposal, contained in a new report, that would see the authority surrender the lease on the current terminal off Princes Dock and hand it back to site owner Peel Ports.

GPH is the world’s largest cruise port operator with 30 ports in 17 countries. It operates in the Caribbean, Mediterranean, Asia-Pacific regions, including extensive commercial port operations in Montenegro.

Among the ports it manages are Barcelona, Alicante Cruise Port, Prince Rupert Cruise Port, St Lucia, San Juan Cruise Port, The Canary Islands, and Taranto Cruise Port.

Its assets in the Americas include two of the most popular cruise ports in the Bahamas and Caribbean, Antigua Cruise Port and Nassau Cruise Port, which is home to the busiest cruise terminal in the world.


Queen Elizabeth
Cunard’s Queen Elizabeth, in at Liverpool Cruise Liner Terminal in 2017. Picture by Tony McDonough
Global Ports Holding operates the Nassau cruise terminal. Picture from Global Ports Holdings


Nassau is currently seeing a redevelopment project worth more than £200m. This will see expanded berths to accommodate larger ships and a new waterfront area.

In 2021 Southampton opened its £55m Horizon Cruise Terminal. It has installed a shore power facility for cruise ships. This put more pressure on Liverpool to significantly upgrade its facility.

READ MORE: Ruth Wood made permanent CEO of Mersey Maritime

Plans for the new Liverpool cruise terminal included a 100,000 sq ft terminal building over two storeys as well as a 200-bed hotel at Princes Dock Liverpool Waters.

It would enable the world’s largest cruise ships (up to 3,600 passengers) to embark and disembark at Liverpool and directly create more than 500 new jobs. City leaders will hope GPH can come in and kick-start the project.

Global Ports Holding declined to comment.

A spokesperson from Peel Ports said: “We are regularly in discussions about a wide range of commercial opportunities for the business. We don’t comment or speculate on any discussion before the appropriate time.

 “Our long-term ambition has always been for Liverpool to be a leading maritime hub for investment and development opportunities, and that will not change.”

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