Cunard liners 'could begin cruises from Liverpool'

Queen Elizabeth Liner
Image caption The Queen Elizabeth is in Liverpool for the city's River Festival

The president of ship company Cunard has said "it is quite possible" the firm would begin cruises from Liverpool if the city built new facilities.

Liverpool has a cruise liner terminal but it does not have facilities for cruises to begin and end in the city.

The city is appealing against a restriction that stops it becoming a turnaround port.

The proposals are opposed by Southampton, which could see its port business suffer if they are approved.

Cunard's flagship Queen Elizabeth, which was launched in October, is visiting the port for the start of the city's River Festival and will depart at 20:50 BST after a firework display.

Pay back grants

Cunard president Peter Shanks said: "Southampton remains our base, but if in future Liverpool do invest in their facilities, and like other ports around the world have the opportunity for turnaround, then it is quite possible that some voyages would start in Liverpool.

"I think that would be very popular for our guests."

Liverpool is restricted from becoming a turnaround port by conditions attached to a government grant for the building of the cruise liner terminal, which opened in 2007.

In return for lifting the restrictions, Liverpool City Council would pay back £5.3m in government grants over 15 years.

Another Cunard liner, Queen Mary 2, will be in Liverpool for the close of the River Festival next Thursday.

Liverpool City Council estimates that the festival, which was last held in 2005, will attract 50,000 visitors and earn £8m for the local economy.

It expects that passengers and crew from these two vessels alone will bring in more than £400,000, with research showing that each passenger spends £70 on average while a crew member spends £35.

The Queen Mary 2 will also set sail following a firework display.

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