FIVE star cruising will come to Liverpool for the first time next year, bucking the recession and giving a huge boost to the visitor economy.
The 91,000 gross ton Celebrity Infinity will make her maiden call at Liverpool Cruise Terminal next May 1 on the first of four round-Britain cruises from Harwich.
But it is the 2,170-passenger liner’s final visit on September 1, 2013, which is the crucial call for both the public and the city’s economy.
This will be the first time a round- UK voyage, which features Liverpool as a key destination, will allow passengers to embark and disembark.
It is the next big quantum leap Liverpool has been seeking since the initial revival of turnaround (ie starting and ending) cruises on May 29 by m/v Ocean Countess after exactly 30 years.
Judith Feather, Liverpool council’s divisional manager of events and cultural infrastructure, said: “We’re going to raise our game.
“Staying as a three star-rated cruise liner port is not our ambition.
“Bringing in five star-rated liners like Celebrity Infinity is the way we’re trying to go, but we have to get the operation right.
“There are steps in place to make sure that will happen. This is a small, competitive industry and we must get what we do right all the time for these people.”
Stuart Wood, former chief Liverpool Pilot and maritime commentator, said: “The brilliant idea of splitting Celebrity Infinity’s round-UK cruise will show other operators the turnaround benefits of Liverpool.
“While Liverpool won’t reach the 85% cruise market share of Southampton, why not attract five star business on a ‘small is best’ principle?”