Skip to content Skip to menu

Commuter Services depart each weekday morning and evening and operate between 07:20 – 09:50am and 5pm - 6:50pm.

Cross-river Services sail from 10am-4pm Monday to Friday and 10am-5pm Saturday and Sunday, (until Sunday 16 May).

We are pleased to announce that we are planning for the return of our River Explorer Cruises from 10am on Monday 17 May. Tickets are now on sale. We’ve introduced timed tickets, so you’ll need to book online before you set sail. 

All services will sail from Pier Head and Woodside terminals, whilst Seacombe is closed for major refurbishment work.

Face coverings must be worn at all times on the ferry and in the terminals. Remember to keep a safe distance from other passengers and check in with the QR codes to comply with track and trace legislation. Find more information and prices on our Current Service Information page.

Manchester Ship Canal Cruises: Sail Through History

Published on

Tuesday, October 27, 2020

When Queen Victoria opened the Manchester Ship Canal on 21 May 1894 it was the largest river navigation canal in the world, and a feat of Victorian engineering, which allowed vessels to transport goods from the Irish Sea through Cheshire and into Manchester- for the first time.
Costing around £15 million to build (around £2 billion today) over 17,000 labourers known as navies dug the 36-mile-long canal, mostly by hand with spades.

Engineer, Thomas Walker (who had previously constructed the Severn Tunnel) was awarded the contract to build the canal and split the 36-mile-long project into 8 sections appointing an engineer to oversee the construction of each section.

Building the Big Ditch

The build of the ‘big ditch’ as the canal was also known, started on 11 November 1887 and took over six years to complete. Many of the navies were injured during the dig and over 3,000 incidents were treated at the canal’s specialist hospital. Sadly 130 men died during the construction of the canal.

Navies were paid above average for the time and received four and a half pence for a 10-hour day. Their wives and children also lived by the canal in specialist huts built to house the workers and their families.

Historic Architecture

Experience the incredible history of the canal and celebrate the rich legacy of Victorian architecture and engineering masterpieces like the Grade II listed Runcorn Rail Bridge and the Latchford High Level Bridge on one of our Manchester Ship Canal Cruises.

Set sail on an all new route along the captivating canal to the historic Latchford Locks and back, giving you the opportunity to experience a round-trip in the same day! History buffs will also get a greater understanding of the fascinating past of the canal from the Blue Badge Guide’s live commentary.

As you sail back along the canal from Latchford Locks you will get a unique view of Liverpool’s UNESCO World Heritage Waterfront and the Mersey Estuary. On this peaceful day out, you can sit back and take in the panoramic views of Liverpool’s famous skyline, marvel at the historic buildings, and stunning coastline. 



The Perfect Gift

Manchester Ship Canal Cruises aren’t sailing at the moment, but if you’d like to learn more about the fascinating inland waterway from our superb Blue Badge Guides and sail through over 125 years of history on the world famous Mersey Ferry, why not buy a gift voucher for 2021?

Manchester Ship Canal Cruise gift vouchers cost £46 per person and will give your loved ones a fantastic day trip to look forward to next year. Cruises depart from Liverpool and Wirral in 2021. Gift vouchers are valid for 12 months and will be extended should Covid-19 related restrictions prevent use.

If you would like to treat your loved ones this Christmas to a Manchester Ship Canal Cruise gift voucher, the last posting date is 12noon on Thursday 17 December.