Plans for new £88m cruise terminal are shelved

Global Ports Holding to take over control of Liverpool Cruise Terminal and pledges £25m upgrade but deal means plans for £88m new facility with hotel are now scrapped. Tony McDonough reports

Queen Victoria
Cubard’s Queen Victoria at Liverpool Cruise Terminal


Liverpool Cruise Terminal will receive a £25m upgrade from its new private operator but plans for a new £88m terminal have been shelved.

On Wednesday morning it was announced Global Ports Holding (GPH), the world’s largest independent cruise port operator, would take over the running of the terminal on the Mersey from Liverpool City Council.

LBN first exclusively revealed GPH’s involvement in December 2023. But at that time it was still hoped the firm would pick up plans for a completely new terminal.

However, GPH has now said it will instead spend £25m on a new floating pontoon that will increase capacity and allow for the simultaneous berthing of two 300-metre ships and up to 7,000 passengers a day.

It will also oversee the construction of a new terminal building that will provide waterfront retail and hospitality offerings for both cruise passengers and local visitors.

In 2019 the city 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 four-star hotel at Princes Dock Liverpool Waters.

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, the council said it wanted to monitor the health of the cruise market for a longer period before restarting the project.

In September 2021 Liverpool’s main cruise market rival, Southampton, threw down the gauntlet when it opened its £55m Horizon Cruise Terminal in September 2021 boasting it was the ‘greenest’ facility in the world.

It was hoped Liverpool would be able to match that ambition. However despite a pledge of £20m from the Liverpool City Region Combined Authority towards the project, the cash-strapped city council admitted it would not be able to fund the new terminal.

Original costs had been projected at around £50m but this estimate had since ballooned to almost £90m. It proposed handing back control of the terminal to owner Peel Ports Group with the aim of bringing in a private operator. It was hoped this would mean the new facility would still be built.

Now Peel Ports Group’s subsidiary, The Mersey Docks And Harbour Company, signed a 50-year deal with GPH, which already operates 30 ports in 17 countries.

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.

This deal saves the city council £500,000 in annual costs in running the terminal. It will also save the city from having to meet capital costs of more than £15m to keep the current facility operational.

Subject to the granting of appropriate permits and licenses, GPH plans to invest up to £25m in the port’s infrastructure.

Mehmet Kutman, chairman and chief executive of GPH, said: “The addition of the Liverpool Cruise Port, our first cruise port in the British Isles to our network, marks another important milestone in GPH’s ongoing development and growth.

“I would like to thank Liverpool City Council and Peel Ports Group for their support throughout the process.

“Liverpool boasts a rich maritime heritage, and the GPH team looks forward to working with all stakeholders to further enhance the success of this remarkable destination.”


Liverpool Cruise Terminal
Global Port Holding agrees deal to take over running of Liverpool Cruise Terminal
Liverpool Cruise Terminal has been operating for 16 years. Picture by Tony McDonough
Liverpool Waters
Image of how the four-star hotel at Liverpool Cruise terminal would have looked


Since it first opened 16 years ago the cruise facility, operated by the council’s own entity Cruise Liverpool, has welcomed more than 800 vessels and 1m passengers, generating an estimated £110m to the city’s visitor economy.

In 2023 alone, Liverpool welcomed 102 cruise ships and more than 186,000 passengers. This is expected to increase to over 200,000 passengers in 2024 and exceed 300,000 per annum once the new infrastructure works are completed.

Under a service agreement between the council and GPH, some of the existing team members and service providers will continue to support GPH as it expands operations. Council chief executive Andrew Lewis called the latest agreement “historic”.

And David Huck, chief operating officer at Peel Ports Group, added: “Liverpool City Council’s stewardship of the port over the last two decades has truly transformed the City into a thriving cruise tourism destination.

“We see this new chapter as an opportunity for us to build upon that legacy.”

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