A LIVERPOOL travel company has revealed it will be bringing cruise liners back to the city for the first time in five years.
The news follows the announcement last week that a multi-million pound cruise liner terminal will not be completed in time to name the country's next luxury liner, the Queen Victoria, on the Mersey.
The Liverpool Cruise Club has been in negotiations with cruise liner operator the Fred Olsen Company and has been pushing for the Norwegian firm to begin Liverpool-based departures.
Now the Waterloo-based travel company has said it has confirmed four cruises for next year and plan more if the venture is successful.
Andrew Runacres, managing director of the Liverpool Cruise Club, said: "We have been pushing for a long time to have departures from Liverpool.
"Cruises are becoming more and more popular.
"We have been specialising in cruises for more than 10 years, but some people are put off by having to travel down to Southampton, or fly abroad, before their holiday starts."
He said in the past cruises were seen as the preserve of the wealthy, but prices had come down in the past decade, bringing the holidays within reach of many more people.
The cruises are being run in conjunction with The Fred Olsen Company whose luxury liner, Black Prince, will be docking at the Port of Liverpool to pick up passengers starting from February next year.
The first cruises, which last eight nights, will be to the Canary Islands, Spain, Portugal and France.
The ship, which has 241 cabins and a crew of 200, was refurbished in 1999. The 11,209-tonne vessel prides itself on being able to access many ports which larger cruise liners are unable to visit.
The liner paid a brief visit to Liverpool in August, 2003.
While larger liners currently have to moor in the middle of the river with passengers carried to shore on boats, the Black Prince is able to berth in a dock.
So far the company has four cruises starting from Liverpool, embarking from February to March 2005, although the company hopes to arrange more for later in the year.
Mr Runacres said: "The Capital of Culture status has certainly had a significant effect, raising the profile of Liverpool around the world already.
"This is great news for Liverpool, with quality cruising returning to the port, and we are delighted to be at the forefront of bringing it back to the city."