Venice Seeking to Ban Cruise Ships

A recent article published by Daily Mail reports that Italy’s Minister of the Environment, Andrea Orlando, will be proposing an immediate ban on cruise ships in and around Venice during a cross party parliamentary committee this coming October.  Lobbyist for the ban claim that huge cruise ships are eroding the canals and the city’s fragile foundtations, contribute to the increased flooding that occurs every winter, and are impacting the delicate eco-system.  According to the article, Venice residents see the cruise ships as an eye sore to the historic landmarks.  While the cruise lines pay huge port fees, Venetians argue that the passengers bring little economic benefit to the city.  It is important to note that the Daily Mail article references a ban on cruise ships in the Grand Canal.  However, cruise ships only sail past the opening of the Grand Canal while en-route to the cruise terminal in the Giudecca Canal, not through the Grand Canal.

Venice Italy Google Map

The proposal would prevent ships of more than 500 tons from coming within two nautical miles of landscapes of value such as the Venice Lagoon or fragile environments as the marine sanctuary between Sardinia and north-east Italy.  While the proposal seeks an outright ban, other ideas have been mentioned such as limiting the number of cruise ships per year, tendering off-shore, or porting elsewhere.  An additional solution would be to dredge a new approach to the current cruise terminal bypassing the narrow canals around St Marks Square.

Venice’s Mayor suggested that cruise ships dock at Port Marghera, a town already hit by industrial pollution.  However, from a passenger perspective, this would require 15 to 20 minute transfers to explore Venice.

Venice Italy Marghera Google Map

CLIA secretary general for Europe, Robert Ashdown, provided some interesting details in a article.  According to Ashdon, the CLIA recognizes the need to move away from current navigational routes in Venice, but there are no alternatives in place. A July meeting was held where five potential proposals were developed.  The proposals will be explored and evaluated as a long term solution for cruise ships in Venice.

This past July, the Disney Magic returned to Venice for the first time in 15 years.  In 2014, the reimagined Disney Magic is scheduled to reposition from Barcelona to Venice on a 12-night Mediterranean cruise.  Then, the Disney Magic will use Venice as a homeport for two 9-night Mediterranean cruises, followed by a 12-night cruise repositioning back to Barcelona.

Disney Magic Sails Past San Giorgio Maggiore Pano July 3, 2013

12-Night Mediterranean Cruise (with Greece) on Disney Magic – Itinerary C (Barcelona to Venice) from Barcelona, Spain
Barcelona, Spain • At Sea • Villefranche, France • La Spezia, Italy • Civitavecchia, Italy • Naples, Italy • At Sea • Catania, Italy (Sicily) • Corfu, Greece (Greek Isles) • Dubrovnik, Croatia • At Sea • Venice, Italy

  • 6/14/2014

9-Night Mediterranean on Disney Magic – Itinerary A from Venice, Italy
Venice, Italy • At Sea • Katakolon, Greece • Piraeus, Greece • Kusadasi, Turkey • Rhodes, Greece (Greek Isles) • Mykonos, Greece • At Sea • Venice, Italy

  • 6/26/2014, 7/5/2014

12-Night Mediterranean Cruise (with Greece) on Disney Magic – Itinerary D (Venice to Barcelona) from Venice, Italy
Venice, Italy • At Sea • At Sea • Piraeus, Greece • Kusadasi, Turkey • Rhodes, Greece (Greek Isles) • Heraklion (Crete), Greece • Mykonos, Greece • Santorini, Greece • At Sea • Valletta, Malta • At Sea

  • 7/14/2014

It is too early to know for sure what, if any, impact this will have on the Disney Magic’s 2014 Mediterranean cruises. I’ve reached out to Disney Cruise Line with regard to any contingency plans and was informed that “the Disney Magic operates in compliance with all local laws, and at this time, no changes have been made to the 2014 itineraries.”

This is one of those situations where the cruise lines are at the mercy of the local government.  If this is passed the cruise lines will have no other choice but to comply.  This would be the same case if the State Department decided tomorrow that we were all required to have Passports on closed loop cruises.  The law is the law.  Worst case scenario would result in Venice being removed from the itineraries, but I think there are adequate alternatives such as tendering or a more practical solution in the case of home porting, the Mayor’s Puerto Marghera option.

UPDATE 9/22/2013 | Protesters Block Cruise Ships in Venice

This weekend, around 50 protesters dressed in wetsuits, backed by 1,000 supporters, managed to hold up the cruise ships in Venice by over an hour according to an article published by The Telegraph.

Local politicians continue the push to ban ships as, Andrea Orlando, said he would propose next month the gradual switching of ships to Marghera, a mainland port in the lagoon, even before an alternative route can be worked out.

8 Replies to “Venice Seeking to Ban Cruise Ships”

  1. JC

    Thank you, Scott! Very informative for those of us booked on those very Mediterranean sailings. This change has the potential to be disappointing, but certainly easier to accept with advance warning and preparation.

    On a side note, I recommend your blog to all of our cruising friends or those contemplating a Disney cruise. Everyone has been so pleased with your comprehensive and thorough information.

  2. Jim

    I have been to Venice before, but not by cruise ship. It is my all time favorite city. When we were there back in 2000, there seemed to be calls from the locals about banning tourists or limiting them. Several years ago there were calls to ban “daytrippers” not staying overnight on the island.

    I think this cruise ship “ban” or keeping them away from the island has a valid point, but it might just fall by the wayside like all the other calls for limiting tourists over the years.

  3. Lisa

    My family was on the Magic this summer during the July-August cruise that visited Venice. It is certainly a beautiful and fascinating city with incredible historical structures, and the approach with the ship passing the Doge’s palace was breathtaking. I will add, however, that of all the places we visited, this was the one we felt least welcomed by the locals, although they were quick enough to take our money. As we look back on our experiences for the 12 days, my family agrees that Venice was the low point. I hadn’t realised the islanders were making noises to limit or ban tourists, but from our experiences, I’d say the sentiment is definitely present.

  4. Marnix

    In both articles the issue of the large cruise ships is presented as caused by the very tragic accident between a vaparetto and a gondola. Neither these boats (operated by local crew, used to the crowded waterway traffic) nor the place of the accident (near the Rialto Bridge, where no cruise ship ever comes, because they don’t fit in) has anything related to cruise ships. Big ships, operated by well trained crew and always under the guidance of a local pilot.
    I really don’t understand the connection between the two.
    We are booked for the first 9-nighter out of Venice and would be very disappointed not to sail from the city.

    1. Scott Sanders Post author

      The connection is simple. It generates the newspaper/media outlet more visits to the article when you have cruise ship and death in the same article.

      This is a case where the readers must dig for the real story. Which is why I omitted that portion from this article. It was not directly related to the cruise ships.

      It’s the same way news outlets try to associate Walt Disney World to a story. Remember the sink hole. Initial reports made it seem like it was in property.

  5. Rob

    If Venice doesn’t want the tourist dollars I am happy to go somewhere else to spend them. I’d be just as happy if Disney used another location entirely as its homeport, such as somewhere in Croatia or Greece. If that means the itineraries will change a bit then so be it.

  6. Elizabeth McGreevy

    Eeewww: I find the presence of your overly sized tubs a visual and ecological nuisance. Venice oozes balanced proportions and ancient spaces. Your grossly oversized cruise ships are about American extravagance. Go back to the “Love Boat” sizes for the Mediterranean.


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