The shivering, rotting timbers of derelict Princes Jetty, once used for marshalling cattle, could rise as a grand cruise terminal building with ships sailing to New York.
Standing empty and derelict at the far end of Princes Parade, its wooden planks and dockside fittings are all that remain of a once bustling livestock berth.
We will be looking at how we might be able to incorporate Liverpool into Queen Mary 2's transatlantic crossings
But if Mayor Joe Anderson has his way, it will be herding cruise passengers to and from ocean-going liners.
The council has pinpointed the site as its first choice for the much needed terminal as the growth in cruise passenger ships to the Mersey continues to soar.
This year the temporary shed on Princes Parade is expected to handle 86,000 passengers on 61 vessels.
Last year Liverpool Confidential exclusively revealed Cunard’s ambitions to re-introduce Liverpool to New York sailings, if a proper cruise terminal was built.
Cunard Line – which describes the city as its spiritual home - today backed that up, saying the development could lead to the reintroduction of its transatlantic crossings from Liverpool, which last took place regularly in 1968.
But initially the process will start with a detailed study into the construction of a permanent cruise liner building on the old jetty.
The jetty, in the centre of the UNESCO World Heritage Site, will generate much interest, particularly its design.
The need for a permanent facility to replace the marquee-like building on Princes Dock follows a doubling in the number of vessels visiting Liverpool since it became a turnaround facility in 2012.
The council is to appoint advisors to carry out an in-depth study into the design and cost of constructing a terminal capable of handling 3,600 embarking and disembarking passengers with baggage – twice as many as the existing facility.
The site would include passport control, passenger lounge, café, toilets, taxi rank, vehicle pick up point, coach layover area and a car park.
Mayor Anderson, said today: “The temporary cruise liner building has been a tremendous success and served us well, but a city of Liverpool’s standing and ambition needs a permanent building if we are to continue the growth we’ve seen in recent years. It’s always been my ambition to develop an iconic terminal which makes Liverpool a world-class destination for cruise liners.
“What we are doing now is drawing up detailed plans which will give us a clear picture of the costs and then enable us to make a decision as to whether to proceed.
“Clearly there will be a cost to the construction of the facility, but this will be offset by the hugely beneficial economic impact that passengers have when they spend money during their stay.
“There is still lots of work to do before we can give any scheme the green light, but the fact that we have identified a potential site which we are seriously looking at shows the importance we attach to the cruise market.”
The mayor had hoped that the terminal could have been housed in the Cunard Building, now the main council office and mayoral HQ. But this was ruled out for logistical reasons.
The cruise liner terminal is estimated to have generated £7 million for the city’s visitor economy last year, up from £1.3 million when it was a port of call destination.
In May 2015, the Cunard fleet arrived on the River Mersey, creating the unprecedented Three Queens spectacle that was seen by more than a million people lining both sides of the waterfront.
Cunard Director Angus Struthers welcomed today's news. He said: “Liverpool’s ambitions to develop its cruise business have been clear for some time. We’re therefore delighted that today’s announcement takes the development of a new cruise terminal into its next phase.
"Liverpool will forever be Cunard’s spiritual home, and, as the world witnessed with the Three Queens spectacular last May, the city’s pride in this association, and the level of interest in Cunard across the whole North West of England, remains strong.
"Though Southampton will remain Cunard's homeport, we look forward to working with Liverpool to see how we can develop a great experience for our guests. In particular, we will be looking at how we might be able to incorporate Liverpool into Queen Mary 2's transatlantic crossings."
Liverpool was named the UK’s best port of call for two years running in 2013 and 2014 and scooped Destination of the Year by Seatrade Global in September 2015.
Later this year, Disney Cruise Line will be coming to Britain for the first time and Liverpool is one of just two English destinations they will sail in to.
A company is expected to be appointed to carry out the feasibility study in March, with work completed in the summer and a final decision taken over the project later in the year.
Life on the ocean wave: The growth of destination Liverpool
YEAR VESSELS PASSENGERS
2011 15 27,278
2012 31 38,656
2013 34 44,478
2014 47 57,844
2015 52 80,952
2016 61 86,365
2014 47 57,844
2015 52 80,952
2016 61 86,365