(8:15 a.m. EDT) -- After extensive planning applications, the Mayor of London has given approval for an ambitious new cruise terminal in time for the 2012 Olympic Games. The facility, to be built at Enderby Wharf in Greenwich, is some 20 miles closer into London
than the out-of-town cruise terminal at Tilbury and within walking distance of popular sites including the Maritime Museum and the Cutty Sark clipper ship.
Ships can already moor at Greenwich, and the smallest vessels can fit upstream at Tower Bridge, in the heart of the City, but there's no terminal or berth at either.
The cruise terminal will be part of a refurbishment of the whole area around Enderby House, a protected historic building. The overall development will include 770 homes, a 251-room hotel, a new street and a public square with gardens and is expected to take four or five years to build, but the cruise terminal is earmarked as the first phase. Work will start at the end of this year and the terminal is expected to be ready, a spokesman for developer West Properties told Cruise Critic, for the Olympic Games next summer, accommodating ships up to 240m long (as an example, a ship about the length of Oceania
's new 66,000-ton Marina
The terminal will without doubt boost cruise tourism to London, but whether there will be demand for moorings for ships for the Olympics is another matter. Only one cruise ship, Peter Deilmann's Deutschland, has so far been confirmed as a floating hotel and will be berthed in West India Docks, closer to the Olympic stadium. And luxury line SeaDream Yacht Club
last week cancelled its summer 2012 Baltic and northern Europe programme, blaming the situation partly on failing to secure a charter for the Games, according to www.travelweekly.co.uk
--by Sue Bryant, Cruise Critic Contributing Editor