GPH expands with more cruise terminal contracts

2024-04-14T14:50:13+00:00 April 14th, 2024|Ports|

Global Ports Holding (GPH) is to add another two cruise terminals to its portfolio.

First, following a public tender process, a majority owned consortium between GPH (51%), local shareholder, Steya (40%) and Ocean Infrastructures Management (9%) has been awarded preferred bidder status for a 15-year concession agreement with Agence Nationale des Ports (ANP), to operate Casablanca’s new cruise terminal.

The consortium and ANP will now work towards agreeing on the terms of the concession agreement.

Casablanca, Morocco’s largest city is the cruise gateway to Rabat and Marrakesh, which will soon be within 1.2 hrs reach via a new bullet train project, set to be completed before the 2030 FIFA World Cup to be hosted jointly by Morocco, Spain and Portugal.

Located on the northwest coast of Africa,  Casablanca is a key stopover port for the Canary Islands and West Mediterranean cruises, as well as sailings between Europe and the Caribbean.

The cruise port facilities recently underwent a €60 mill investment in the infrastructure. This investment, which was led by ANP, included the construction of a new cruise pier, cruise terminal and maritime station to international standards, significantly increasing the port’s capacity.

As a result, the port is now capable of handling ships up to 350 m long and has the cruise port infrastructure to welcome 400,000 pax per annum.

Casablanca Cruise Port is expected to welcome around 150,000 transit passengers in 2024, rising to about 180,000 passengers in 2025.

Second, GPH has signed a 50-year agreement with the UK’s Peel Ports Group’s subsidiary, The Mersey Docks and Harbour Company, to operate cruise services at Liverpool Cruise Port.

Recognising the port’s immense potential, GPH plans to invest up to £25 mill into infrastructure enhancements, subject to the granting of the appropriate permits and licenses.

This investment will include the addition of a new floating berth that will increase capacity and allow for the simultaneous berthing of two 300 m ships and over 7,000 pax per day.

A new terminal building will be built that will enhance the passenger experience, featuring waterfront retail and hospitality offerings that will cater not just to cruise passengers, but also to land-based visitors and local residents.

Last year, Liverpool Cruise Port welcomed 102 cruise ships and over 186,000 pax, with this number expected to increase to over 200,000 pax in 2024. Upon completion of the infrastructure upgrades, annual passenger numbers are anticipated to surpass 300,000, signalling a promising trajectory for the port’s future, GPH said.

Liverpool Cruise Port is well-positioned to participate in the growing Northern European and British and Irish cruise markets. It has good airport connectivity, with two international airports within an hour’s drive, providing significant potential for the port to act as a gateway to the Northern European and round Britain cruise markets for US and European passengers, as well as being well-positioned to act as a home port for the domestic passenger market.

This collaboration opens a new chapter of possibilities, promising enhanced experiences for travellers and bolstering the city’s position as a premier cruise hub, GPH added.

Mehmet Kutman, GPH Chairman and CEO, said; “The addition of Liverpool Cruise Port, our first cruise port in the British Isles, to our network marks another important milestone in GPH’s ongoing development and growth.

“I would like to thank Liverpool City Council and Peel Ports for their support throughout the process. Liverpool boasts a rich maritime heritage, and the GPH team looks forward to working with all stakeholders to further enhance the success of this remarkable destination,” he said.

David Huck, Peel Ports Group COO, added; “We are proud to be embarking on a new strategic partnership with Global Ports Holding (GPH) as it takes over operations at the Liverpool Cruise Terminal.

”Liverpool City Council’s stewardship of the terminal over the last two decades has truly transformed the City into a thriving cruise tourism destination. We see this new chapter as an opportunity for us to honour that legacy.

”We look forward to making that vision a reality alongside GPH through a strategic partnership and our combined maritime and cruise expertise, as well as to exploring other potential opportunities as part of the wider Peel Ports Group portfolio,” he said.

Andrew Lewis, Liverpool City Council CEO, commented, “Liverpool City Council is delighted to have helped enable this historic agreement between Peel Ports and Global Ports Holdings plc.

”Responsibility for Liverpool’s cruise operations now passes to a world-leading operator, with ambitious plans to grow Liverpool’s position as an excellent cruise and tourism destination. We look forward to working  closely with GPH to support their ambitions, and to extending a welcome to many more visitors to Liverpool,” he said.