Yesterday I posted about my visit to Liverpool Cruise terminal on Wednesday and focused on the terminal’s history and how it handles day calls. Today I’m going to focus on how the terminal handles cruise turnarounds, and about future plans for the terminal.
Although the terminal was constructed for cruise day calls only, it was, I gather, always hoped that a way could be found to use it for turnarounds. In the end the impetus for this came from Fred Olsen. They had previously done cruise turnarounds from Liverpool, but from Langton Dock in Bootle, and using their smallest ship, Black Prince. Langton Dock is connected to the river via locks, and the problem was the potential difficulty of getting a larger ship through these locks. At the end of the 2009 season Fred Olsen retired Black Prince and replaced her at Langton Dock for 2010 with the much larger Boudicca (28,000 GRT as against 9,500 GRT). After a few cruises with Boudicca Fred Olsen decided that getting her in and out of Langton Dock was too fraught with potential problems. These were not actual risks to the ship or passengers, but issues such as possible delays if the winds were too strong – the clearances through the lock were much tighter for the larger ship and required calmer conditions, and if those couldn’t be achieved then cruise schedules could be disrupted. Fred Olsen therefore took the decision that they would fulfil the already-planned program of cruises from Liverpool for 2010 and 2011 but that they would withdraw from Liverpool after the 2011 programme. This was widely seen as a heavy blow – here’s a link to a story about it in the Liverpool Echo at the time the announcement was made (2010); and here, to balance the picture, is a link to the announcement they made in 2012 to say they would return in 2013.
To be fair, Liverpool always knew that using the new terminal for cruise turnarounds was going to be essential, but there was a problem – they were prohibited from doing so as a result of conditions attached to the public funds that had been used to construct it. (more…)