After years of going back and forth, Italy finally passed a law to ban some cruise ships from going through Venice. However, it should be no surprise as petitions by people concerned with the ecology, local residents and celebrities had secured enough awareness to overturn a previous decision.
Italy once again changed their decision regarding whether larger cruise ships will or will not be allowed into the famed city of Venice. Presently, arrival into Venice is a star attraction for cruise passengers and 650 cruise ships pass through the city each year.
Environmentalists asserted that irreversible damage to the Venetian lagoon’s ecosystem is caused by ships sailing through the city’s shores. There has been also been additional concerns are about potential damage to some of the iconic landmarks of the city. Cruise lines may now only pass 1000 feet away from the legendary St. Mark’s Square to provide a stunning view without upsetting the delicate balance of the water.
The About Turns
About2Cruise ran this story in November 2013. It reflected in turn about the directive being passed regarding cruise ships in Venice. Enrico Letta, the then-Prime Minister and the Italian legislation ordered a directive stating that ships weighing more than 96,000 tons would not be permitted to sail in the waters. It went further and determined that cruise lines with fleet members weighing in at 40,000 tons or over must be reduced by at least 20 percent.
However, in March 2014, those restrictions were rescinded following an appeal by the Venice Passenger Terminal Authority. Travel in Venice via a cruise was back in business. With the amount of ships continuing to make its way into the lagoon, the public outcry and celebrity involvement only made the government’s concern slightly more justifiable to have another look.
Celebrities such as Julie Christie, Cate Blanchett, Sir Michael Caine, Edward Norton, Susan Sarandon, Isabella Rossellini and Diane Lane petitioned against cruise ships from entering into the Venetian lagoon. Passing historic buildings such as St Mark’s Basilica by a cruise ship had to end and it appears they have finally won their battle.
“It seems to me to be a balanced solution which takes account of our duty to remove the skyscrapers of the sea from the canals of Venice, while safeguarding a world heritage city that is the envy of the world and protecting the city’s economy which is so linked to cruise tourism”, stated Transport Minister Maurizio Lupi when making the announcement.
The New Route is still in the Discussion Stage
No doubt this will take a large percentage out of the cruise industry’s influence in the region. The Cruise Lines International Association (CLIA) vowed to keep the ships out of both the Giudecca Canal and Saint Mark’s basin. They added, “We agree that a sustainable solution for Venice requires a new alternative route for ships and so we are pleased that the Italian government is working very hard to find a sustainable solution”.
The unknown route that ships will be forced to take in the coming months remains in the discussion stage. One proposal that sounds promising is to dig a new channel stretching three-miles and reaching Venice’s main shipping terminal, ‘Stazione Marittima’.
CLIA has urged the Italian government to be swift on this alternative route and begin dredging immediately. Any delay in construction could mean that some cruise lines will not be able to offer Venice as a port of call in 2015.
Most Ships wiil be Unaffected
Most ships are unaffected by tonnage restrictions and will continue to enter the lagoon. The ships that are mostly definably banned and in excess in weight include the Celebrity Equinox, Celebrity Silhouette, Costa Fascinosa, Costa Magica, MSC Fantasia, MSC Preziosa, P&O Ventura and Regal Princess. Which ships over 40,000 tons that will be part of the 20% cut is anyone’s guess at this date?
However, there is a silver lining for certain members of the industry, such as Azamara, Oceania Cruises, Saga, Seabourn, SeaDream, Silversea and Voyages to Antiquity. Their passengers will continue to have unsurpassed views whilst arriving in Venice and meandering through Saint Mark’s basin.
What is your opinion on this decision?
Written by Veronica Shine