Venice protesters have 'gripes' against cruise tourism says expert
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Cruise ships are now banned from passing close to the historic centre of Venice in Italy. The vessels now must dock in a different location to preserve the famed lagoon, it was ruled on Wednesday night in the latest cruise news. The decree called for public consultations on building a terminal outside the lagoon where passenger vessels over 40,000 tons and container ships can berth without passing in front of popular tourist haunt Saint Mark’s square.
Until then, large vessels must dock at the industrial Marghera Port, far from the Grand Canal.
“Anyone who has visited Venice in recent years has been shocked to see these ships, hundreds of metres long and as tall as apartment buildings, passing through such fragile places,” Culture Minister Dario Franceschini said on Thursday.
The ruling comes after years of public anger from residents at the huge cruise ships sailing so close to the historic centre.
Cruise ships drop off an estimated 30,000 visitors during the peak summer months in Venice, which has a population of 55,000.
Concerns were heightened after the Costa Concordia, a 114,500-tonne liner, sank off the Tuscan island of Giglio in 2012. Thirty-two people died in the incident.
More recently, in 2019, the MSC Opera cruise ship collided with the San Basilio dock and a tourist boat as it was approaching a passenger terminal on the Giudecca canal – one of Venice’ major canals – injuring four people.
The government said in a statement it wanted to “reconcile the needs to protect the artistic, cultural and environmental heritage of Venice and its lagoon with those related to cruise activity and goods traffic”.
Franceschini called the move a “correct decision, awaited for years” on Twitter.
He tweeted: ‘A correct decision, awaited for years: the [Italian] Council of Ministers approves a decree-law that establishes that the final landing places of the big ships in Venice will have to be planned and realized outside the lagoon, as requested by UNESCO.’
It was not immediately clear if this latest attempt at protecting Venice from large cruise ships would succeed.
This is not the first time authorities have attempted to block cruise liners from the lagoon.
In 2013, the then government banned vessels of more than 96,000 gross tonnes from crossing the Giudecca canal, but a local court later overturned the ruling.
In 2017 another government tried again, telling big vessels to dock at Marghera.
Once again many tour operators managed to navigate around the order.
Cruises have been badly impacted by the pandemic but many major cruise lines are now offering UK sailings in lieu of foreign trips amid the uncertainty of the Covid pandemic.
Cunard is to offer UK domestic cruises on its Queen Elizabeth ship. Voyages will run between July and October 2020 lasting between three and 12 nights.
Journeys will span notable scenic views around the UK, including the Jurassic Coast and Scotland.
Four voyages will include port calls including Liverpool, Greenock, Invergordon, Belfast and Newcastle.
MSC Cruises has begun to take bookings for UK sailings starting from May 20.
Princess Cruises has outlined plans for a short UK cruise itinerary to begin in late summer while Saga Cruises has also announced plans to return to sailing with a UK itinerary.
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