TUI shelves plans for Liverpool cruise base

TUI Travel’s plans to operate Thomson Cruises from Liverpool have been shelved after the operator was refused use of the city’s new £17 million cruise ship terminal.

Thomson Cruises was considering introducing a cruise programme on its Thomson Celebration ship from the new Pierhead terminal for 2009.

However, during two trial cruises last month it was forced to use the dilapidated Langton Dock in Bootle, as the new terminal lacks the facilities for outbound cruises. Customers on one of the trial cruises, Taste of Ireland, spent three days moored at Langton Docks because of bad weather.

TUI Travel director of cruising David Selby accused “interested parties,” thought to be Liverpool City Council and owners of Mersey Docks Peer Holdings, of failing to co-operate.

He told Travel Weekly: “We would have preferred to go from the new terminal but ended up at Langdon Docks, which is too narrow to navigate through, especially in bad weather.

“If they can find a way of doing turnaround cruises at the new terminal then we would be more likely to sail out of Liverpool. We wouldn’t rule it out for the future.”

Selby denied the decision was prompted by the economic downturn.

Cruise agents in the Liverpool area said they were very disappointed that the cruise centre would not materialise.

Liverpool Cruise Club sales and marketing manager Dave Eastwood said: “This is devastating for customers in the northwest. It would have saved them travelling down to Dover or Southampton.”

The Co-operative Travel in Prescot branch manager Claire Garside added: “We were disappointed to hear Thomson Cruises had decided not to proceed with its plans, especially as there is a big appetite for cruising in the northwest.”

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