A delegation of US cruise industry managers will put Liverpool’s attractions under the microscope after the city’s new expanded cruising season launches on Sunday (April 21).
The season will open with the return of the highly popular Fred. Olsen Cruise Lines after a three year gap with mv BOUDICCA docking at the Liverpool Cruise Terminal for the first time on Sunday at 5pm to embark 900 passengers for the Canary Islands, sailing at 11pm.
Next week six shore excursion managers from Royal Caribbean International (RCI), based in Miami, will arrive to check Liverpool’s attractions. RCI passengers already rate Liverpool as its top UK destination.
Royal Caribbean announced mv CELEBRITY INFINITY, owned by its premier brand, Celebrity Cruises, will make nine calls at Liverpool during the next two years. It includes one overnight stay in July 2014 so passengers can visit the Open Championship at Royal Liverpool Golf Club.
CELEBRITY INFINITY will make her maiden call at Liverpool on May 18 on a round Britain cruise from Harwich, followed by three other calls. Her final call on September 1 will allow passengers to start or end their cruise in Liverpool. RCI’s VISION of the SEAS will call two days later.
In 2011 there were 15 cruise liner visits, which will rise to 36 ships this year, with 12 turnarounds by BOUDICCA and three by Cruise & Maritime Voyages’ DISCOVERY.
Cunard Line flagship QUEEN MARY 2 will also embark and off-load passengers on May 17. In all 13,700 berths will be available from Liverpool this year.
Next year promises even more with 50 cruise ships already booked (up from 15 in 2011). Newcomers in 2014 include a visit by MSC Cruises and three turnarounds by Thomson Cruises.
Thomson, with its huge hotel experience could be crucial in driving Liverpool’s cruise and stay market, a development desperately wanted by the hotel sector.
One hundred top Thomson agents are being trained at its Luton HQ in promoting cruises from Liverpool, although the sailings are already selling well.
Angie Redhead, Cruise Terminal manager, said: “The RCI team will be doing a recce of local attractions to check out their investment as it costs a lot of money to bring ships into a port.
“The key thing is getting cruise line chiefs like these over here, as after a visit they are always won over. But we can’t be complacent and must find new ways to differentiate Liverpool from other ports.
“We need to support the trade so I’m thrilled to have persuaded the Association of Cruise Experts to bring its conference to Liverpool Convention Centre in September.
“It’s fantastic to have Fred Olsen back and sale of their cruises has been phenomenal, which is evidence that people want the ship to come to them. The volume of first time cruisers has grown massively.
“Liverpool is now established in the cruise industry and companies like Princess Cruises have been so loyal to us, even bringing its new ship, RUBY PRINCESS, next year.
“Our growth is purely from passenger satisfaction reports. We’ve had no negative feedback, Liverpool usually exceeds expectations. The biggest liners like QUEEN MARY 2 can berth in the heart of the World Heritage Site.
“The Cruise Terminal and the return of these big passengers ships are tangible evidence of Liverpool’s regeneration and gives local people back a sense of pride.”
Cllr Wendy Simon, Liverpool City Council cabinet member for culture and tourism, said: “The cruise liner industry is vital to the city’s economy, bringing in millions of pounds.
“QUEEN MARY 2 will be in to coincide with the re-opening of Central library on May 17 and CELEBRITY INFINITY will join us for the final day of the River Festival and Music on the Waterfront.”
Claire McColgan, Liverpool Culture director, said: “Next year’s overnight stay by CELEBRITY INFINITY so passengers can visit the Golf Open is the sort of added value that will make Liverpool stand out.”
Liverpool Daily Post