Cruise ships are finally banned from Venice following decades-long battle

They have been blamed for damaging the city’s delicate foundations and blighting its famous skyline.

Now, after a decades-long battle, residents in Venice have succeeded in getting cruise ships banned from docking there.

The Italian government yesterday announced it would begin re-routing the liners away from the historic city centre, which draws some 30 million tourists a year.

The decision comes after a cruise ship collided with a small tourist boat along one of Venice’s canals in June.

The SC Magnifica cruise ship as it sails away after a stop-off in Venice. Locals say cruise ships are damaging the city’s foundations and blighting its famous skyline

After a decades-long battle, residents in Venice have succeeded in getting cruise ships banned from docking there (file picture)

After a decades-long battle, residents in Venice have succeeded in getting cruise ships banned from docking there (file picture)

After a decades-long battle, residents in Venice have succeeded in getting cruise ships banned from docking there (file picture)

MSC Opera crashed into the quayside of the Giudecca Canal after injuring five passengers on the smaller vessel. 

The same month another cruise liner narrowly missed ploughing into a canal-side restaurant.

The incidents provoked resentful Venetians to take to the water to protest in a fleet of small boats.

The city’s population of 55,000 claims the ships are threatening to overwhelm them, dropping off an estimated 30,000 visitors during the peak summer months. 

Of the 60,000 tourists who descend on Venice each day, less than half stay the night.

Venice – once known as La Serenissima, or the Serene One – has also suffered damage to its ancient wooden foundations from the bow waves of the enormous ships.

In June a cruise ship came close to ploughing into Venice dock and had to swerve during a storm to avoid hitting dry land

In June a cruise ship came close to ploughing into Venice dock and had to swerve during a storm to avoid hitting dry land

Italy’s minister of transport Danilo Toninelli said the cruise ships would gradually be moved away from current routes, the Financial Times reported.

By next year the plan is for a third to berth at ports well away from the city, such as the Fusina and Lombardia terminals three miles away across the lagoon on the Italian mainland.

Mr Toninelli said he had been looking for a solution ‘to avoid witnessing more invasions of the Giudecca by these floating palaces, with the scandals and risks that they bring’.

In future the liners will dock at a new location, possibly outside the lagoon, to be decided on by public consultation.

In June, Italy’s main conservation group said Venice should be put on the United Nations’ list of endangered cities. 

Mariarita Signorini, national president of Italia Nostra (Our Italy), whose stated mission is to defend Italy’s cultural and natural heritage, said cruise ships should be banned from the city’s fragile lagoon to prevent an ecological disaster. 

MSC Cruises' massive 2,679-passenger Opera and the moored 'River Countess' collided in June, injuring four people

MSC Cruises’ massive 2,679-passenger Opera and the moored ‘River Countess’ collided in June, injuring four people

Another incident saw the MSC Opera (pictured) crashing into a city wharf and river boat on the Giudecca Canal, injuring five people

Another incident saw the MSC Opera (pictured) crashing into a city wharf and river boat on the Giudecca Canal, injuring five people

‘Venice is unique and we cannot allow it to be destroyed even more than it has been already,’ said Signorini in June. 

Venice and its lagoon are already on Unesco’s list of World Heritage Sites but Italia Nostra says unbridled tourism, a steady exodus of long-time residents and environmental decay pose a huge threat to the city’s survival.

In February, it was reported that city officials were planning to introduce a booking system so visitors can pay for entry before they arrive.

Authorities said tourists – even day-trippers who only visit for a matter of hours – will be charged an entry fee of between two and five euros (£1.70 and £4.40) but it could go up to 10 euros (£9) in the high season.

And by 2022, the city council said it hoped that most people visiting Venice will reserve an entry ticket to the city before visiting – then it can monitor tourism numbers. 

In 2018, officials in Venice also proposed several ways to rid the city of what it calls ‘boorish’ behaviour by visitors.

In September plans were announced to ban visitors from sitting on the ground, with fines ranging from 50 to 500 euros (£44 and £443).

Later it was then revealed people could be banned from carrying alcohol around the streets.

The Italian city was said to be considering fining anybody carrying booze after 7pm – even if it is in a sealed shopping bag.

It came after complaints that tourists are becoming drunk in Venice’s squares and public places.

Meanwhile in early 2018, visitor-only routes to popular landmarks were introduced ahead of a holiday weekend to keep tourists away from the locals.

The visitor-only routes were put in place for tourists heading to St Mark’s Square and the Rialto Bridge.

 


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