08/11/2013...10:51 am

Cruise Critic readers respond: Venice bans cruise ships

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The days of huge cruise ships sailing up the central Giudecca Canal into St. Mark’s Basin in Venice are numbered.

From January 2014 the number of vessels weighing more than 40,000 tons authorised to cross the Giudecca canal — in front of St Mark’s Square, in the heart of the city — will be cut by up to 20% from 2012 levels. And in November 2014, ships weighing over 96,000 tons will be banned from the route completely.

Well known as one of the best vistas to be seen from atop the deck of a large cruise ship, the view of Venice is now being taken away. But what’s the reaction to the decision from the point of view of our readers?

You might be surprised.

This week, Italy’s Premier, Enrico Letta, along with a group of Italian government ministers and local officials committed to a plan that would reduce large ship traffic coming into Venice’s heart. And while it’s not quite clear exactly how that plan will take shape or where ships will go, what is clear is that there are a lot of cruisers who want to visit Venice. Last year alone, 89 ships from 42 cruise lines made 661 calls and carried around 1.8 million guests into the floating city, according to statistics from Venice’s Passenger Terminal.

When we initally reported the story, and shared it on our Facebook page, readers — many of whom had visited Venice on a cruise — wasted no time in making their feelings known.

Several, like Natalie Feerick, agree with the very active protest groups fighting against what they see as the destructive force cruise ships have on Venice. More than simply balking at the strange aesthetic of a giant cruise ship looming over an ancient city, campaigners argue that the large ships do serious damage to Venice’s fragile lagoon — going so far as to dive into the Giudecca canal en masse on 22 September to disrupt the transit of the canal by some 12 cruise ships scheduled to visit Venice that day.

As Natalie put it: “Venice is sinking and has to be protected, and unfortunately these big ships add to the problem.”

Some, however, were sad to hear of the change in procedure and what it will mean for future cruises.

Gillian Culley reminisced: “What a shame. One of the most wonderful things is sailing past the sights of Venice to/from our moorings. Brought a tear to my eye!”

And one commenter disagreed with the government’s decision, while also placing the blame for the move squarely on the shoulders of the embattled former Captain of the Costa Concordia, who was at the helm when the ship ran aground off the coast of the Italian island of Giglio and claimed 32 lives.

Commenter Craig Woods said, “It is an amazing sailaway. Gliding through the Giudeca [sic] is an experience never to be forgotten. Captain Schettino is the man responsible for this. I don’t believe sailing up the Giudeca [sic] to the port did any harm.”

By a large margin, however, the vast majority of those who commented were supportive of the move. Saving Venice, it seems, is worth losing the opportunity to see what Linda Chivers called “one of the best sail ins and outs we have ever experienced.”

In fact, most responders shared a similar sentiment to that expressed by Patti Kirkpatrick, who said: “It’s a shame because it’s so beautiful to see Venice from the water, but I can understand what the big ships must be doing to the lagoon. Selfishly, I’m glad that I got to see it.”

What do you think? Tell us in the comments section.

 Learn more about Venice in our port guide.

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  • Theresa Campbell

    Saving Venice is more important than having a beautiful view from the deck of a cruise ship. Sadly I never got the opportunity to enjoy that view but I have been to Venice and it must be protected – whatever it takes.

  • It was lovely cruising into Venice, I will be sad to see it stopped.

  • I have been to Venice several times – by the Orient Express from London and by air, for example. I agree completely with those who would ban those monster cruise ships from the city. Such vessels have been getting larger as part of the competition cruise-ship owners have adopted in order to beat their rivals. As a result, no thought has also been given to the larger numbers of tourist-visitors which are disgorged into this beautiful city every time such large ships spend the day in port!

  • John and Audrey Mealin

    On 22nd September we were on Queen Victoria awaiting departure when the protest took place delaying our sailing for about one hour. We do appreciate the problem and can understand why the locals wish to preserve their lovely city. Although we had previously visited Venice we are very glad that we had the opportunity to enter and depart by sea on board such a beautiful ship. However we would not like to start or finish a cruise from Venice terminal due to the chaos that we witnessed with so many vessels in port at the same time.

  • we have sailed in and out of venice twice and it was an amazing experience, arriving in the early hours when it was misty and magical and then leaving at the end of the day to the music of Pavarotti, Cathrine Jenkins and other beautiful opera singers was fantastic and very emotional. This was with Ocean Village who have sadly left and gone to Australia. Feel very lucky we had that experience.

  • I’m happy with the changes. My wife and did think, both during the sail in/out on our cruise to Venice, and on a subsequent non-cruise visit, that the ships are horribly out of scale with the environment. San Marco and the Palazzo Ducale are supposed to be looked up at and marvelled at, not looked down on…. So we understand and support the decision to stop ships crossing St Mark’s basin and moving along the Giudecca canal.

    We both think that the existing cruise port terminal should continue to be used, which means that an alternative route to it needs to be created, and we’re pleased that there is going to be some activity on this front – the proposal has been around for a number of years, in fact.

    We think that the worst of all worlds would be to have cruise ships banished to Maghera port. Yes, that would stop them from approaching Venice itself, but the congestion and pollution that would arise from moving all those passengers by coach across the causeway to Piazzale Roma would probably be worse.

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