Venice Reinstates Ban on Cruise Ships

August 13, 2014


(12:40 p.m. EDT) –- Italian officials have again ordered a halt to large cruise ship traffic in Saint Mark's basin and the Giudecca Canal in Venice.

The inter-ministerial ruling was a "unanimous decision" to save Venice's fragile buildings and environment, according to the region's governor, Luca Zaia, who posted the news on Twitter.

The ban was originally due to come into effect earlier this year but was overturned by a regional court before the Italian government stepped in to reinstate the regulations.

According to the regulations passed in 2013, no cruise ships over 96,000 tons will be permitted to sail in the Venetian lagoon, and the number of cruise ships weighing 40,000 tons or more must be reduced by 20 percent of the current volume. The total number of ships over 40,000 tons traversing the lagoon daily is to be capped at five.

Italian news agency, ANSA, has reported that, currently, 650 cruise ships pass through the city annually.

Partly in response to the Costa Concordia disaster, Italy's ex-Prime Minister, Enrico Letta, initially passed the regulations in November 2013 to keep large ships from passing too close to Italian shores. In March 2014, however, following an appeal by the Venice Passenger Terminal authority, an Italian court ruled to suspend restrictions banning large cruise ships from Venice, where the cruise industry is big business.

According to ANSA, in April this year, cruise lines -- by way of the Cruise Lines International Association -- vowed to keep their biggest ships out of Venice's Giudecca Canal and Saint Mark's basin. The move reportedly followed a meeting with Italian culture, environment and transport ministers.

It is unclear how large ships will be rerouted, though a proposal is being considered to dig a three-mile channel -- the Contorta-Sant'Angelo Channel -- to reach Stazione Marittima, Venice's Passenger Terminal.

A CLIA representative told Cruise Critic in a statement that any delay in finding a new route for the banned cruise ships could mean that Venice would be left off itineraries.

"CLIA welcomes the retention of the Venice Passenger Terminal and is open to seeing other possible routes develop into a viable additional option in the longer term. It is, however, important that work begins on these new channels as soon as possible in order that cruise lines can confirm Venice in their itineraries.

"CLIA wants to highlight how important Venice and the Venice Cruise Terminal are for the entire cruise industry. CLIA is committed to working with the Italian authorities in the development of the alternative route and are confident that the new project will be developed in a timely manner so as to allow the cruise industry to operate in Venice while safeguarding the sustainability and its cultural and environmental heritage."

Environmentalists and several celebrities petitioned to enforce the regulations, arguing large ships cause irreparable damage to the Venetian lagoon's ecosystem and many of the city's oldest landmarks.

--by Jamey Bergman, UK Production Editor