Saturday, 19 September 2009

Cruising for a bruising

I've never been taken by the idea of cruising. All those rich Americans, confined spaces and forced-bonhomie deck games before dinner with the crashing bores at the captain's table. Ugh.
But National Cruise Week kicks off this weekend to attempt to convince us that cruising is the one sector of the travel industry to have put on numbers during the recession. It's a week of events and promotion by umbrella organisation, the Passenger Shipping Association (PSA) to raise awareness and highlight new cruise options away from the traditional grab-a-granny image.
Good timing then by the Independent newspaper, which reported this weekend on an escalating scrap between erstwhile shipping hub Liverpool and latter-day cruisers' fave Southampton.
The Hampshire port is reported to be trying to block Liverpool's plans to upgrade the historic Pier Head, designated a Unesco World Heritage Site in 2004, into a port of embarkation and arrivals.
The owner of Southampton docks, Associated British Ports, has asked the Department for Transport to throw out Liverpool's plans for a turnaround terminal.
It is said to be furious that Liverpool received £20m in public money to redevelop the City of Liverpool Cruise Terminal at Princes Dock.
But cruising is booming and surely Liverpool, with its rich maritime heritage and Capital-of-Culture regeneration boost, is an ideal location to develop a new cruise hub?
Besides, the terminal will welcome the Queen Mary 2, Cunard's flagship cruise liner with 3000+ passengers in October. In March this year the £22m Liverpool Canal Link opened up access to the historic waterfront, generating an expected 200,000 extra visitors and additional tourism spend of £1.9m.
Has Liverpool played dirty? And does the city even want cruise lines chugging up the Mersey? I'll be discussing this topic with Duncan Barkes on City Talk Breakfast this Tuesday at 7.45am.
Post your comments below and I'll put them on the air.


  1. I know precisely nothing about the cruise industry - but isn't this a storm in a teacup? Rich southern city has stranglehold on cruise departures; poor northern city gets some EU funding to upgrade; rich southern city says "It's not fair". Diddums. How can having two turnaround ports 200 miles apart "distort the industry"?

    What this is really about are the nice chunky supplements people are forced to pay in order to travel from around the UK into Southampton port, to catch their boat. As usual, it's all about profit and never mind the customers. Go for it, Liverpool.

  2. I agree. I can't see any reason why Liverpool should not offer this facility. THe city needs to take every opportunity to improve itself.

  3. Really nice topic, the Eurpean cruise industries continues grow, but not only Eurpean-based cruise lines. The traditional americans brands are also focusing more on Europe.

    Best Regards,