I don’t know about anyone else but I am getting sick and tired of this pathetic reporting of the so-called ‘Cruise Wars’ (a title coined by either The Daily Echo or the Liverpool Echo) because frankly, it’s all a lot of bollocks. There’s seemingly not a day goes by now when one of them isn’t name calling or being petty – and that’s before we get onto the main players in this farce. It all started because Liverpool was granted tax payers money (UK and EU) for their landing stage on the condition there would be NO TURNAROUND FACILITIES. They projected (after looking at Cobh and Dublin’s cruise calls after they were Capital of Culture) they would get as many, if not more, than them. WRONG! Ireland or Liverpool? Um….. It’s like Holyhead. Liverpool stole their cruise call business with their landing stage and stuck two fingers up to the Welsh town, who only had anchorage. Now Holyhead have a proper terminal and are stealing it back. Who objected to them building it? Liverpool! Again I ask the question, Wales or Liverpool? Um….. If you’ve ever seen the excursions offered at Liverpool you have to wonder why they bother. Anfield, Port Sunlight??? What American with no knowledge of anything except the Beatles would be bothered? And the Beatles is all Liverpool has going for it because they cling to the past far too much. They are obsessed with Cunard, their Daily Post taking an old joke quote from Ronald Warwick about Queen Mary 2 and put it in their paper in 2004 saying the ship would be calling in her first year. People believed it, despite the fact brochures had been out a year by then and she was going nowhere near. Then there was a few years ago when a route was opened between Liverpool Airport and Newark, New Jersey. The Post (yep that one again – they’re the source of most of the fabrications) had a piece where someone was quoted as saying you could fly in then cruise back! How when they would have to go to Southampton??? Another little fact omitted. I once complained to the Post, citing a list of online articles where they talked out of their backsides. Never received a reply but many subsequently vanished. Each time Cunard announced a newbuild, who was saying they would be named up there then made excuses when they weren’t? Cunard RENAMED Vistafjord there in 1999, which hardly then gives them automatic rights to having the rest. What many people tend to forget is, Cunard didn’t start operating out of Southampton in 1967 when they closed the Liverpool offices. It was 1919 (White Star began the transition in 1907). Which was the port of choice for the original Queens? Southampton. Yet a few years ago, Liverpool held an exhibition called Liverpool to New York – The Only Way To Cross, including the Queen Mary! Talk about feeding rubbish to the locals. I got into an argument with a silly woman at the council over the advertising of the QE2’s pennant – one of SIX, yet Liverpool omitted to mention Halifax, New York, Greenock, Southampton and Dubai also had them. She replied with a tirade of misinformation about the ships’ alleged ‘close ties’ with the city, saying it was THE pennant, telling ME to check my facts and said the ship hadn’t flown the pennant during her final call. Well, naturally I replied, since bullshit always engrages me, giving her links to many things to show she was wrong, including a photo of the pennant flying from the mast. She then got someone else to start spouting crap at me and I still have those emails. Let’s get one thing straight. The QE2’s ONLY connection to Liverpool was that she was devised there, as one of originally two who then became one. She didn’t visit until a 21st anniversary tour of the UK in 1990! That was also when she returned to the place of her birth. Between then and 2008 she made a further 8 calls to Liverpool and 7 to the Clyde. She’d visited other places more! Cunard only use their heritage to Liverpool when it suits them and because they know the council will pay for everything. And THAT’S what this is all about. They have deluded themselves into believing Cunard will return because they can’t let go of it and move on. London and Liverpool used to be THE liner ports in the heyday, with Southampton struggling for a bite of the action. P&O originally sailed from Southampton before relocating to London, returning to the south coast port in 1960. Gradually lines moved away from those two but unlike Liverpool, London don’t whine about the past. Fuel prices soared (as now) and they saw it was cheaper to sail from Southampton. Southampton also have no locks and have a double tide, meaning ships have more of a window to arrive and depart. Liverpool have had cruise ship turnarounds for many years, but they were small like Black Prince, berthing in Langton Dock. You have to ask yourselves why, if Peel Ports and the council were so keen for business, they didn’t invest BEFORE they became Capital of Culture? Instead, passengers continue to face a dump 4 years after the landing stage was erected so lines pull out. Thomson wanted to base a ship there and still nothing was done to entice them, so they didn’t. So on the basis on no investment, why should they get taxpayer’s help now? It’s like a benefit scrounger.
Now don’t get me wrong by reading my rant about Liverpool. My dad’s from there, his family worked at the docks and it’s my second home. BUT all this is just crap and even he says so. The one thing he used to argue about with my late aunt Mary was the cruise industry, because she believed the toilet paper. They’d agree on everything else! He was right. Due to Liverpool’s restrictions, the ships haven’t materialised as the council plans projected so the landing stage has been a waste of money. Last I read a few years ago it was losing £250,000 a YEAR! People wrongly believe cruisers don’t want to travel to Southampton to board a ship while omitting to mention Dover or Harwich. There are itineraries Liverpool will never be able to do due to fuel costs so there will ALWAYS be cruisers from the north coming south. It’s like saying they won’t fly anywhere when we also know that’s not true. But the north continues to peddle the myth but people in the south are just as likely to travel north IF the itinerary’s right. Even Dover and Harwich have lost business. It’s far cheaper for the likes of NCL to offer a Baltic cruise from Copenhagen than Dover. Cruise ships slow to save fuel (look at QM2’s now 7 night crossings, making it no better than a repositioning!), go to less ports and there are new regulations coming in 2015 which will mean more are dropped. European cruising is seasonal for many of the major lines and, after their 3 months, bugger off back to the US or down to the Med. That’s why Liverpool’s main calls are in the summer months (even ignoring Fred Olsen moving to Scotland during that time). Dead after that. Dover used to be too until a couple of years ago. It used to be, once the summer cruising was over for Saga and Fred Olsen and they’d return to Southampton, Dover would be virtually closed like Harwich and others are. But all this in the paper is just getting silly. So I say this:
Liverpool – This is TAXPAYER’S money and we’re in a recession. Taxpayers are struggling to make ends meet, having pay cuts/freezes and losing their jobs so why should they subsidise a PRIVATE COMPANY, for said company to take the profit? Liverpool council should keep out of it since this is port business and nothing to do with them. It would have been settled long ago if they had. Peel Ports should pay all the money back or build something elsewhere. It’s been going on a long time now and, despite twice last year saying they would, not a penny was handed over. Now they’re making another attempt with, again, the assistance of the council and offering a mere £6 million over several years. The country is in serious debt and we cannot afford this folly when every other port in the country invests THEIR OWN MONEY. Why should Liverpool be any different? The government should say all or nothing and if they choose nothing, no more attempts. The reason Peel Ports refuse is simple – they know it will continue to lose money. Many cruises are around 2 weeks so they’ll get a few turnarounds throughout the year, meaning they won’t be any better off. I suspect Peel Ports understand the modern cruising industry far more than the council who believe they’ll all come flocking back. Put up or shut up!
Southampton – GROW UP!!!! Remember Portland’s boast a few years ago they’d take the cruise business? All this childish behaviour does your argument about the money no good at all because that issue is lost in the “My dad’s bigger than your dad” crap. I was totally embarrassed by Doug Morrison’s tantrum yesterday. You know you NEED Terminal 5 otherwise YOU’LL end up losing business if cruise lines think you can’t cope with more calls. Stop throwing your toys out of the pram and stick to the facts. Liverpool is as much of a threat as Milford Haven!
Daily Echo, Liverpool Echo, Daily Post – Stop being boring and go back to reporting news. This isn’t ‘Cruise Wars’, it’s which journalist not worth their wasted education can make up the most ridiculous statements! Read your comments. Idiots believe it and you’re to blame. You have set Southerners and Northerners against each other thanks to your pathetic ego trip. And hey, Liverpool Echo, Southampton may have strikes but the city and the port are still running. ALL papers need to shut the hell up now and let them fight it out! It’s BORING!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
Now I know some people reading will disagree but this is my opinion as the daughter of a Scouser living near Southampton who just happens to love ships. There IS enough to go around, just like callers, but everyone MUST be even. If Liverpool get to keep their money, EVERY port should then be publicly subsidised. Fair’s fair. But you can see what a ridiculous option that is just as this is when Peel Ports isn’t a state-owned company. Every other port, right down to Greenwich, is ploughing their profits into building up their cruise business. Liverpool should be no different.