Days after the announcements of resumed cruising in the UK and several cruise lines redeploying their ships to England for UK coastal sailings, major British cruise ports are struggling to cope with the demand from cruise lines.
“The phone is red-hot. We’ve had a huge number of inquiries. At the moment, we’ve got 120 ships scheduled to call this summer,” Angie Redhead, head of Cruise Liverpool, told Cruise Industry News.
“It’s absolutely great that ships will be returning this summer. Liverpool is a maritime city: passenger shipping is in our DNA and the people in Liverpool cannot wait to see passenger ships on the Mersey again … Part of our recovery plan as a city is for tourism and hospitality to come back to life as quickly as possible. Cruise shipping is one element of that,” she added.
120 cruise calls at Liverpool Cruise Terminal include both – those homeporting and those calling in transit.
“A lot of those are confirmed, and a lot of those are trying to find available dates. The challenge is finding an available date. That’s where we’re at now, we are engaging with our cruise line partners, lots of conversations, lots of shuffling around. And, hopefully, every vessel that wants to call to Liverpool will be able to call to Liverpool,” Redhead said. “That’s our aspiration, the ideal scenario for everybody. We’re really excited.”
Rebekah Keeler, head of cruise for ABP Southampton, shared the enthusiasm about the return of cruise ships. “We very much welcome the news that UK domestic cruising can start again from May 17,” she told Cruise Industry News. “We remain confident about a strong future of cruise in Southampton and continue to work hard behind the scenes with our industry partners for a safe return to cruise. We’re excited to begin welcoming cruise lines back home to Europe’s leading cruise turn-around port.”
Partnership, Not Competition
So far, seven major cruise lines have announced their plans to restart operations in England.
According to Redhead, Cruise Liverpool has managed to build good relationships with cruise lines over the years, which helps in securing port of calls.
“We found that when a particular cruise line has called once, it’s never enough, and we see repeat visits from them in subsequent years,” she said.
However, despite the UK having a couple of ports available for calls, Redhead said it’s more of a partnership than a competition.
“Liverpool is part of Cruise Britain, and we work in partnership, we work collegiately, with all of our cruise port members and service providers, as well as with Scotland and Ireland, because we understand that no port can stand alone,” she said.
“We have to offer a geographical activity that works for the cruise ship and works well for the cruise passengers. That’s what we’ve done very well over the past few years – work collegiately with other ports and destinations. Of course, it’s a competition. But we have to also work in collaboration, which is what we do and what we really like to do,” Redhead added.
So far, only voyages between English ports have been permitted to restart on May 17. But the UK government is working with the home nations to get UK-wide domestic cruising “up and running,” according to a comment given by British MP Robert Courts to The Independent media outlet.
“We really cannot wait for the return of international passenger shipping,” Redhead said. “But we will be ready when the cruise industry is to receive those ships.”
“Cruise Britain and all member ports and service providers are working closely with industry partners toward the safe restart of cruise in the UK and we are not able to comment further at this time,” commented Kay Greenway, director of Cruise Britain.