Could Cruise Ships Soon Be Sailing into London?


With a maritime history dating back to the 1800s, the South East London district of Greenwich is a profound choice for a recent London City Cruise Port construction proposal. Should construction go ahead, it would be London’s first operative cruise ship terminal in over 35 years. After the Royal Docks shut down in 1981 only small vessels were able to cruise into the capital. This plan would allow London to welcome ships measuring in excess of 650 feet.

Kate O’Hara, Chief Executive of the London City Cruise Port revealed that the project has already received “tremendous excitement and interest” from the cruise sector, with a myriad of leading lines supporting the construction of the new facility. And it’s not hard to see why. The terminal would allow vessel’s to transport passengers into the heart of London, as well as treat them to a scenic tour of the Thames.

Plans in full swing

According to The Times the release of official plans is just weeks away and could see the terminal constructed and fully operational in just two years. Things kicked off in 2012 when planning permission was first approved. While it was originally marketed as a stop off point, developers are now campaigning for the terminal to operate as a ‘turnaround’ point for round trips from London. High end development firm Westcourt Real Estate is the group behind the project and is pushing for construction work to be carried out as quickly as possible.

Jonathan Manser is head architect on the London City Cruise Port project and explains that while previous plans were rejected, the new proposal includes some up-to-the-minute changes. “In particular we have increased the size of the terminal building to accommodate baggage handling for passengers embarking and disembarking, and to improve the overall experience within the terminal, he said. “We have altered the access for vessel servicing, as longer stays mean that the cruise ships will need to load and unload stores and provisions.”

The need for change?

While the London City Cruise Port would change the face of the capital’s cruising scene it isn’t entirely lack lustre at present. Greenwich Ship Tier and Tower Bridge Upper are the current available moorings which cater to small cruise ships with minimal passengers. Essex’s Tilbury Docks is another option, located 20 miles from the city centre.

Strong voices from the opposition

Of course, like all public proposals not everyone is on-board. Some are fiercely opposed to the new terminal, arguing that the ships will be eye sores and obstruct views of iconic riverside attractions such as the Old Royal Naval College and the Cutty Sark.

So will the London City Cruise Port project go ahead or will it be shut down by those who don’t see a place for cruise ships in the heart of the capital. At the moment things are looking up for Westcourt Real Estate but of course, these sorts of high profile projects have a tendency to run into serious hurdles… Watch this space!

Images sourced via Flickr Creative Commons. Credits: ROGER FENTO


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Claire has worked in the travel industry since leaving college in 1994. One of this blog's most regular contributors, Claire covers cruise news and industry trends.

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