Global operator ready to build £88m cruise terminal

Liverpool City Council in talks with global cruise terminal operator to take control of current cruise terminal and push forward with development of a new £88m facility. Tony McDonough reports

Celebrity Apex
Celebrity Apex at Liverpool Cruise Terminal. Picture by HowardLiverpool


A global operator of cruise ship terminals is in negotiations with Liverpool City Council to take over the running of its cruise terminal and possibly build a new £88m facility on the Mersey.

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.

This would pave the way for the as yet unnamed private operator to take control of the terminal, possibly as early as summer 2024. And it could kick start the building of the new terminal that had been put on hold during the COVID pandemic.

Liverpool’s head of assets and former Cruise Liverpool boss, Angie Redhead, told LBN the 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.

“In March 2020 we were approached by a global operator who does a lot of development, predominantly in the Caribbean,” said Angie. “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.

“Liverpool hasn’t yet achieved its full potential and there is a lot more growth that can happen – they can see that. And they are also aware of the need for investment and they are not put off by that.

“For that to happen and for it to happen at the pace and speed they would like then the best way is for us to surrender our lease to the port authority (Peel Ports).”

It was in December 2022 when LBN first revealed the council was seeking a private operator for the terminal and the new build project.

In 2019 the council was ready to press go on the new terminal, including 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.

However, in March 2020 the COVID pandemic brought the global cruise industry to a halt. In 2021 the industry bounced back quickly with the world’s biggest cruise operator, Carnival, reporting strong figures.

Despite this, Liverpool City Council said it wanted to monitor the health of the cruise market for a longer period before restarting the project.

Further pressure came from Liverpool’s biggest cruise rival Southampton. It opened its £55m Horizon Cruise Terminal in September 2021 boasting it was the ‘greenest’ facility in the world.

By then the projected cost of Liverpool’s new terminal had ballooned from £50m to almost £90m. Even with the Liverpool City Region Combined Authority chipping in with £20m it was still a huge commitment for a cash-strapped council.

Speaking this week, Liverpool City Council’s Cabinet Member for Health, Wellbeing and Culture, Cllr Harry Doyle, said it was unusual for a local authority to run a cruise terminal. He added it time for the council to step back and let the private sector step in.

Cllr Doyle chairs the council’s scrutiny committee which will initially consider the report. It will then move on to seek full cabinet approval.

Describing the move as “letting the baby fly the nest”, Cllr Doyle explained the value of the terminal was how much it generates in spend for the city centre economy – now more than £17m a year.

“It is worth bearing in mind the economic impact and what the cruise terminal has done for the city. And that is thanks to the work of Angie and her team. Now we have a heavily investable asset. 

“So we are now at a point where we ask is it right that council is the right body to deliver it (the new terminal) when so much has changed.


Angie Redhead
Angie Redhead and her team have grown the cruise terminal since 2007. Picture by Tony McDonough
Borealis at Liverpool Cruise Terminal. Picture by Activate Digital
Cruise terminal
Computer-generated image of Liverpool’s proposed new cruise terminal
Liverpool Waters
Image of how the four-star hotel at Liverpool Cruise terminal would look


“When you look at the city as it is now with Eurovision and the other major events that we have delivered over the past couple of years, we have put the eyes of the world on Liverpool. That is an opportunity for us to seek inward investment for the city.

“Ultimately, we don’t have the capital to invest in a new cruise terminal and the capital investment the existing terminal will need in the next two to three years.

“We have helped the cruise terminal go from strength to strength and now it needs to go further. This is a perfect opportunity and it is the grown-up thing to do.”

Liverpool’s current terminal now welcomes well in excess of 100 vessels a year but a bigger terminal could take that onto a new level, offering an even greater economic impact for the city centre.

READ MORE: Eurovision visitors spent £54m in Liverpool

READ MORE: EasyJet to offer new summer route from Liverpool

To keep the current terminal operational while a new facility is built would require the replacement of the floating pontoon on what is currently the Isle of Man ferry terminal. This provides access to the main cruise terminal pontoon.

Cabinet member for Growth and Economy, Cllr Nick Small, said the initial investment in the cruise terminal, which opened in 2007, had proved to be successful in “pump-priming” growth in the city.

Now, he added, it was time to let the cruise terminal stand on its own two feet and allow the council to put its capital resources into growing other areas of the economy. He said: “It is time for the private sector to step up.”

You might also like More from author

Leave A Reply

Your email address will not be published.

Username field is empty.