Plans to turn Liverpool into the north of England’s leading cruise centre have been dealt a crushing blow after TUI Travel pulled out of a deal which would have brought 50,000 passengers annually to the once-bustling port.TUI Travel has shelved its plans to create a 30-cruise programme running from Bootle to destinations including the Caribbean and Greenland. The resulting loss to the Merseyside’s economy is estimated to be around £4.5m a year in port fees, reports The Liverpool Daily Post.
The move follows several trial cruises based at Bootle’s Langton Dock earlier this year, including one which spent three days moored by the scrapyard because of heavy seas and bad weather.
The business will instead shift to a new base, which could be either on the Tyne or at Southampton Docks.
The Thomson Celebration’s 1,300 passengers could enjoy the attractions of this year’s European capital of culture, however the cruises had to start from the Bootle docks, in the heart of the city’s freight dock system, rather than the famous Pierhead. The new £17m Pierhead terminal is designed to take only “port of call” cruises rather than ships needing a permanent base.
David Selby, director of cruising for TUI, said: “Naturally, we were disappointed that so many local people have not had the opportunity to use such a great facility.
“Customer satisfaction is of paramount importance to us. Therefore, Thomson Cruises felt that it would not be able to offer the quality of service its customers have come to expect if obliged to sail out of Langton Dock. This being the case, it was decided not to continue with this itinerary.”
A city council spokesman said: “Thomson Cruises have not been given any assurances they could use the facilities of the new cruise liner terminal.
“The cruise liner terminal has been built with public money for ports of call ships only - it does not have customs or immigration facilities.