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There were several announcements yesterday (8 August 2019) which seemed to be indicating that as from September, cruise ships would be banned from Venice! I’ve been covering issues concerning cruise ships and Venice for quite some years, so obviously this story interested me. On investigation, the truth seems to be – well, I’m not quite sure what the truth is, but I’m pretty sure that cruise ships won’t be banned from Venice come September.

There is currently no ban in place preventing cruise ships from visiting Venice. Discussions concerning the future of cruise ships using the Giudecca Canal have been ongoing for several years and those discussions continue today without any conclusion – CLIA Statement

Before we go any further, readers might like to read this previous post which, I think, summarises at least some of the issues.

How did the latest imbroglio start? Well, I’ve come across a reported comment by the Italian Minister of Transport, Danilo Toninelli, as follows: “Starting now, we will decrease the number of liners passing by Giudecca and San Marco, particularly the bigger ones….“, followed by: “The aim is to reroute about one-third of the cruise ships already booked on Venice towards new berths by 2020…“. So the Minister is suggesting that from September cruise ships might start to use the Fusina and Lombardia terminals, which are on the mainland.

The CLIA’s statement goes on to say that they continue to believe that “to utilise the Vittorio Emanuale canal [is] the best and most prudent means to move large cruise ships away from the Giudecca”. That’s approximately the red line I marked on the sketch map on the post I linked to above.

Of the places the Minister mentions as alternatives I’ve only been able to locate one, the Fusina terminal. It’s on the mainland towards the southern end of the Maghera port complex. Currently it seems to be used as a car parking area, from which small passenger-only ferries take the occupants to the Zattere terminal in Dorsoduro in historic Venice. Zattere is on the northern side of the Giudecca channel and within a few minutes’ walk from the bridge across the Grand Canal by the Accademia. What berthing facilities there are at the Fusina terminal for cruise ships I don’t know, nor how they would transport people into historic Venice – I assume that the existing provision (which consists of a number of passengers ferries of various sizes) is suitable for the current requirements only. I still haven’t found the Lombardia terminal, but I suspect it will be similar.

Unless and until Venice (or the Italian government) bans cruise ships from Venice altogether, I’m in agreement with the CLIA. I can understand the objections to taking the ships through St Mark’s Basin and along the Giudecca, even though it is a spectacular passage – the ships are definitely out of scale with their surroundings. Although there is no consensus as to whether their passage is damaging the fabric of Venice, anyone who loves the city must surely agree that avoiding any chance of damaging it is a good idea. You can always get the same view from a vaporetto, in any case; or pay the money and hire a launch! Dredging out the Vittorio Emanuale canal will allow cruise ships easy access to the existing cruise terminal without going anywhere near the Giudecca canal and St Mark’s Basin. The wider issues of tourism in Venice must be up to the Venetian and other Italian authorities, of course.

 

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