Cunard could reinstate transatlantic crossings from Liverpool if a new cruise terminal is built in the city.
The Carnival-owned line ran regular Liverpool to New York services until 1968 but currently operates transatlantic voyages on Queen Mary 2 from Southampton.
Liverpool City Council has announced plans to construct a new permanent cruise building which would replace the current temporary terminal.
The council said it had identified the former Princes Jetty as a potential site for a new cruise terminal.
It plans to appoint advisors to carry out a study into the design and cost of a new facility, which could cater for up to 3,600 passengers – twice the capacity of the current temporary terminal.
Cunard director Angus Struthers said he was “delighted” with the announcement of Liverpool’s plan and described the city as the line’s “spiritual home”.
“Liverpool’s ambitions to develop its cruise business have been clear for some time,” he added. “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 iconic transatlantic crossings.”
Liverpool’s mayor Joe Anderson said a permanent cruise building was necessary to continue the port’s growth in cruise arrivals.
“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,” added Anderson.
“It’s always been my ambition to develop an iconic terminal which makes Liverpool a world-class destination for cruise liners.”
Anderson admitted there remains “lots of work to do” before any plan gets approval but added that identifying a potential site “shows the importance we attach to the cruise market”.
The new terminal would include passport control, a passenger lounge, cafe, taxi rank, vehicle pick-up point, coach layover area and a car park.
Liverpool was Cunard’s home between 1840 and 1967 and the 175th anniversary was marked last year when the line’s ships took part in the “Three Queens” reunion in the river Mersey.
The city has consistently increased the number of visiting cruise ships in the last five years. There are 61 ships due to call this year bringing more than 86,000 passengers into Liverpool – up from 15 ships and 27,000 passengers in 2011.
Disney Cruise Line will be calling at Liverpool when it operates its first British Isles cruise in June.