First cruise liner since 1972 leaves Liverpool

Ocean Countess at the cruise liner terminal The government gave the green light for cruises to start and end in the city last week

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The first cruise to start at Liverpool's Pier Head since 1972 has set sail from the terminal.

Liners were only allowed stop-offs at the terminal until last week, when the government gave the go-ahead for cruises to start and end in the city.

Cruise and Maritime Voyages' Ocean Countess arrived in the city from Holyhead at 07:00 and set sail for the Norwegian fjords at 16:00 BST.

Liverpool Mayor Joe Anderson said it was a "momentous day".

He said: "This is the dawn of a new era for Liverpool's cruise industry.

"I have fought hard for turnaround status for our city, because I know how important it is - for our economy, for our tourism offer and for our unrivalled reputation as a major maritime city.

"I'm delighted that the hard work has paid off and the momentous day when Liverpool welcomes its first turnaround cruise is finally here."

'Huge boost'

The newly-completed temporary baggage handling facility on Princes Parade will provide check-in, baggage drop and reclaim, as well as customs and border facilities during the cruise season from 2012-2015.

Cruise liner facilities are expected to bring a huge boost to the city's economy, with each cruise worth up to £1m to the city.

"Turnaround status" was granted on the proviso that Liverpool City Council repays £8.8m of grant aid which it was given for the current stop-off terminal.

Chris Coates, Commercial Director at Cruise and Maritime Voyages, said: "We are delighted to be the first cruise operator sailing from Pier Head.

"We are firmly committed to developing our business on Merseyside and the wider North West region."

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