Large cruise ships could invade the Thames in two years - a new passenger terminal is planned for Greenwich, East London. Is Greenwich going to be the new Venice?
The new terminal is expected to open at Enderby Wharf in 2017. It will become the first new terminal of the capital since the closure of Royal Docks in 1981. Cruise ships up to 820-feet long would stop close to popular tourist attractions, such as Cutty Sark and the Old Royal Naval College.
Detailed plans for the new terminal will be submitted to Greenwich council within weeks.
London could become a hot destination for large cruise ships if the plans for a new Greenwich terminal move forward.
The chief executive of the new London City Cruise Port, Kate O’Hara, said that there was tremendous interest from shipping industry in using the facility.
Currently, there are two London moorings for small cruise ships: the Greenwich Ship Tier, which is a small floating pontoon in Greenwich and requires passengers to board via a launch, and the Tower Bridge Upper.
Windstar Cruises' Star Legend and Silversea's Silver Cloud are among the ships mooring at Tower Bridge this summer. Greenwich will accommodate Hebridean Princess, MS Europa, and the first Viking Ocean Cruises' ship, Viking Star.
A third option, now used by Fred Olsen Cruise Lines and Cruise & Maritime Voyages is Tilbury Docks in Essex, 20 miles down the river.
Planning permission for the new Greenwich passenger terminal was first approved three years ago, in 2012. It would have been used as a cruise ships’ stopping point, but the latest plans suggest it to be used as a “turnaround” destination, where cruises start and finish.
The new proposals have been submitted by the development company Westcourt Real Estate, and would see the Greenwich terminal open in 2017, construction works beginning this year.
The size of the terminal building has been increased to accommodate baggage handling for guests embarking and disembarking, and also to improve the general experience within the new terminal. The access for ship servicing has been altered, as longer stays will need loading and unloading stores and provisions.
The cost of the new terminal has not been revealed yet. Lead architect Jonathan Manser said that a previous design had failed to meet the requirements. However, River Thames is not deep enough to accommodate the largest ships in the world - RCI Allure of the Seas is 1,187-feet long, and Cunard’s Queen Mary - 1,132 feet.