Whatever complaints Southampton might have had over our cruise terminals’ uneven playing fields (curious metaphor, really), they’re going to have to change tack, as the city council has repaid the £8.8 million requested by the Government, allowing cruises to start and finish at the Pier Head.
The city council agreed in May to abide by an independent ruling over how much of the £9.2 million Government grant received for the construction of the cruise liner facility should be returned. This is because the grant was given on the basis that the terminal was used for ‘day call’ rather than ‘turnaround’.
In September, Whitehall officials gave details of the repayment mechanism, and the bill was settled in full.
We’ve talked before about how popular Liverpool is as a cruise destination. And rightly so – let’s face it, if you were extending your holiday by a couple of days, where would you want to base it: at Liverpool’s waterfront, or Southampton’s?
Passengers on Princess Cruise Lines’ mega-liner Grand Princess scored us as the sixth most enjoyable port of call, from 38 European destinations, with a ‘welcome and enjoyment’ score of 87.5 out of 100. No surprises there – we’ve always known how to welcome and enjoy.
In another poll, Liverpool scored the highest out of all UK ports for the question: “Which port most influenced you to book this cruise?”
“We agreed to abide by the ruling of the independent arbiter and pay the money back, and that is exactly what we have done. As soon as the Government gave us details of how they would like the payment to be made, we arranged for it to be settled promptly,” he said.
We approve. With cruise line passengers injecting up to £1million per cruise into the local economy, this is one sure-fire way we can not only turn the ships around, but the city’s fortunes with it.
“The cruise liner terminal is proving to be a huge success and we have had extremely positive feedback from operators and passengers,” Anderson says.
“Liverpool has an unrivalled maritime history and we are now on the way to restoring our reputation as a leading cruise destination.
“For far too long, holiday makers in the north have had to travel to and from other places to start their journeys, and this is helping to return Liverpool to its rightful place as a major cruise port.”
A tented village cum- temporary customs and baggage building, parking and drop off facilities is operating opposite the facility on Princes Parade, but it’s hoped a permanent building will be erected within the next five years or so.
The Cruise Liner terminal is hosting around 30 vessels this year – a mixture of turnaround, day call and other ships, attracting tens of thousands of passengers and generating millions of pounds for the local economy.
There will be talk. Of course. Could this £8million be better spent? We’d say no. Already, Ryanair and Easyjet have started removing flights from John Lennon in favour of Manchester. Tourism will be, increasingly, a vital part of our economic recovery. So when the city returns to the river, it can only be a good thing.