The days of huge cruise ships sailing up the central Giudecca Canal into St. Mark’s Basin in Venice are numbered.
From January 2014 the number of vessels weighing more than 40,000 tons authorized to cross the Giudecca canal — in front of St Mark’s Square, in the heart of the city – will be cut by up to 20% from 2012 levels. And in November 2014, ships weighing over 96,000 tons will be banned from the route completely.
Well known as one of the best vistas to be seen from atop the deck of a large cruise ship, the view of Venice is now being taken away. This week, Italy’s Premier, Enrico Letta, along with a group of Italian government ministers and local officials, committed to a plan that would reduce large ship traffic coming into Venice’s heart.
And while it’s not quite clear exactly how that plan will take shape or where ships will go, what is clear is that there are a lot of cruisers who want to visit Venice. Last year alone, 89 ships from 42 cruise lines made 661 calls and carried around 1.8 million guests into the floating city, according to statistics from Venice’s Passenger Terminal.
So what’s the reaction to the decision from the point of view of our readers? You might be surprised.
When we initially reported the story, and shared it on our Facebook page, readers — many of whom had visited Venice on a cruise — wasted no time in making their feelings known.
Several, like Ronda Piedimonte agree with the very active protest groups fighting against what they see as the destructive force cruise ships have on Venice. More than simply balking at the strange aesthetic of a giant cruise ship looming over an ancient city, campaigners argue that the large ships do serious damage to Venice’s fragile lagoon — going so far as to dive into the Giudecca canal en masse on September 22 to disrupt the transit of the canal by some 12 cruise ships scheduled to visit Venice that day.
As Ronda put it: “I agree the large ships shouldn’t be allowed into the lagoon. not to inconvenience anyone, but to preserve the beauty, culture and traditions that draw so many tourist. This allows everyone to appreciate such beautiful people and their culture. There are many options to transport cruisers/tourists that will benefit everyone.”
Some, however, were sad to hear of the change and what it will mean for future cruises.
Gillian Culley reminisced: “What a shame. One of the most wonderful things is sailing past the sights of Venice to/from our moorings. Brought a tear to my eye!”
And one commenter disagreed with the government’s decision, while also placing the blame for the move squarely on the shoulders of the embattled former Captain of the Costa Concordia, who was at the helm when the ship ran aground off the coast of the Italian island of Giglio and claimed 32 lives.
Commenter Craig Woods said, “It is an amazing sailaway. Gliding through the Giudeca [sic] is an experience never to be forgotten. Captain Schettino is the man responsible for this. I don’t believe sailing up the Giudeca [sic] to the port did any harm.”
By a large margin, however, the vast majority of those who commented were supportive of the move. Saving Venice, it seems, is worth losing the opportunity to see what Linda Chivers called “one of the best sail ins and outs we have ever experienced.”
In fact, most responders shared a similar sentiment to that expressed by Patti Kirkpatrick, who said: ”It’s a shame because it’s so beautiful to see Venice from the water, but I can understand what the big ships must be doing to the lagoon. Selfishly, I’m glad that I got to see it.”
What do you think – is the ban a good or bad thing? Tell us in the comments.