The majority of a government grant to allow cruises to start and end on the River Mersey has been paid back by Liverpool City Council.
The city received £9.2 million of public funding to build a cruise terminal at the Pier Head to allow ships to visit and it has now repaid £8.8 million.
The original terms of the grant meant the terminal would be used for cruise ship stop-offs, not “turnarounds”.
The repayment was made after rival port Southampton said it was unfair for Liverpool to receive public money.
Liverpool mayor Joe Anderson said: “We agreed to abide by the ruling of the independent arbiter and pay the money back, and that is exactly what we have done.
“As soon as the government gave us details of how they would like the payment to be made, we arranged for it to be settled promptly.”
But the project also received £8.6 million in European Commission funding which Southampton council says should also be paid back.
A Liverpool City Council spokesman told the BBC: “It is our view that the change of use is compliant with European law.
“We are now involved with UK government and the European Commission in seeking a formal State Aid sign-off as regards the original investment and the move to turnaround.
“However, State Aid law is complex and we understand a final decision could take many months to reach. We shall co-operate fully with the European Commission in this matter.”
The city council said the cruise liner terminal, which is hosting around 30 vessels this year, brings in tens of thousands of passengers and is generating millions of pounds for the local economy.
Anderson said: “Liverpool has an unrivalled maritime history and we are now on the way to restoring our reputation as a leading cruise destination.
“For far too long holidaymakers in the north have had to travel to and from other places to start their journeys, and this is helping to return Liverpool to its rightful place as a major cruise port.”
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