Update, 1:40 p.m. EST: CLIA Europe released a statement on behalf of the European cruise lines it represents praising Italy's decision. CLIA said it was pleased at the ongoing commitment Italy has shown to keeping Venice a sustainable city.

"CLIA is pleased that the institutions, which were represented at the highest level, are focused on looking for a solution for Venice whilst taking into account that the cruise industry is also focused on achieving this," CLIA said in the release.

Separately, MSC Cruises told Cruise Critic that the new ruling will not affect the line's 2014 sailings from Venice or itineraries that include Venice as a port of call.

In terms of 2015 itineraries, the line is evaluating "sustainable long term solutions."

"Venice is consistently rated as the number one European cruise destination for our industry, and we look forward to continuing to contribute to the city as a key driver of its economy, thereby continuing our mutually beneficial long term relationship," CLIA Europe said.

(November 5, 4 p.m. EST) -- Italian officials ordered a halt to all large cruise ship traffic in the Venice lagoon, effective November 2014, Italian press agency ANSA reports. Officials also mandated a limit on smaller cruise ship traffic beginning in January.

In January, the number of cruise ships 40,000 tons or more sailing in Venetian waters must be reduced by 20 percent of the current volume. Then, in November, no cruise ships over 96,000 will be permitted to sail in the lagoon. Officials expect that cruise ship traffic will be rerouted through the Contorta Sant'Angelo Canal, which is farther away from the best-known parts of the city.

According to ANSA, 650 cruise ships pass through the city annually. The limits would allow no more than five ships over 40,000 tons to pass through the area each day.

The ruling comes after a meeting between Italy Premier Enrico Letta, his ministers, Venice municipal officials and regional authorities over how to implement a law enacted last year banning large ships from passing close to Italian shores. The law was enacted countrywide, then suspended in Venice where the cruise industry is big business.

Environmentalists have argued large ships cause irreparable damage to the Venetian lagoon's ecosystem and many of the city's oldest landmarks.

"We will not be eliminating Venice from our itineraries," said Cynthia Martinez, spokeswoman for Royal Caribbean Cruises Limited, whose brands include Royal Caribbean, Celebrity and Azamara. "We will look for alternatives so we can continue to offer the port of call to our guests."

--by Dori Saltzman, News Editor