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There are reports in the press this morning saying that yesterday agreement was reached by various parties within Venice to new arrangements for cruise ships to alleviate at least some of the concerns listed above. Here’s what I’ve gleaned:

  • from January 2014 no more than five cruise ships will be allowed to berth in Venice at the same time;
  • from November 2014 ships bigger than 96,000 tons will no longer be allowed to pass along the Giudecca canal;
  • the proposed new channel will definitely be dug to allow ships to approach the cruise port from the south, thus avoiding St Mark’s basin altogether.

There have been ongoing protests and arguments in Venice about the number of cruise ship calls, the size of the ships, and the  route that the ships take to get to the cruise port. I’ve been watching this debate with interest and I’ve done a number of posts about it – here was the first one that summarised the arguments, here’s the second one with some additional information, and here’s the third one with a handy map showing the routes into and through the lagoon.

On the face of it the agreement sounds fine. The problem is in the timing, however. The first stipulation may be the biggest problem as it’s the first to come into operation, as early as next January. All of the cruise lines will have made all their arrangements for the whole of next year months ago and will have started selling cabins in the spring. Now there’s a possibility that the berth they’d agreed with the Port of Venice for a particular ship on a particular date may be taken from them, if that date happens to be a busy day.

That said, it might not be too much of a problem. While some of the press reports say that there are ‘up to 9 ships berthing on the same day’, I’ve examined the entries on the CruiseTT site and typically, even at the weekends, they seem to top out at four or five ships. There are a few days when there are six – for example, on 12 July the port will see Norwegian Jade, Splendour of the Seas, Celebrity Equinox, Insignia, MSC Preziosa and Regal Princess all in port together – and those last two are very big – but that’s unusual. (Hint – to make sure you’re getting complete information from CruiseTT for venice, you have to check two ports – Venice and Venzia.)  Of course, there may be additional calls that CruiseTT hasn’t listed.

Then there’s the ban on ships bigger than 96,000 tons from the Giudecca canal which is set to start in November 2014. The problem with that is the new channel isn’t expected to be finished until after that date, possibly not until 2016, so that would mean that for the 2015 cruising season the bigger ships would not be able to dock in Venice at all – there would be no route to the cruise port available to them. They could dock in the commercial port at Maghera, I suppose, but there are issues with that – first Maghera has no facilities for passengers, and second, how would the passengers get between Maghera and the city? The implications for congestion and emissions are bad, assuming that in practice a very large fleet of coaches would have to be used.

Finally, there’s the new channel. This has to be the real answer. Some people may complain that they won’t be able to enjoy the sail through St Mark’s basin anymore. Well, indeed they won’t; but to be truthful when we did it in 2011 I was very conscious that we were dramatically out of scale with the city. You’re not supposed to be looking down on St Marks or the Doge’s Palace, you’re supposed to be looking up at them, in awe. So I for one will welcome the creation of the new channel. Let’s hop that the money can be found.

Here’s an interesting video animation of the new channel proposal from the cruise port website. Finally, here are some links to news sites carrying this story: the BBC, the Telegraph, and Reuters.

One Response to “New cruise ship limits for Venice”

  1. […] ships from visiting Venice as there is no other route to the cruise terminal. I posted about this here. Then in March this year I posted that the new regulations had been suspended pending a review. […]

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