Is Venice done with cruise ships?

The city is no longer in danger today

Pierpaolo Campostrini

Water engineer for the Venice lagoon (Source: P. Campostrini)

I welcome the decision of the Italian authorities to ban cruise ships of over 25,000 tonnes in the San Marco Canal and the Giudecca Canal. We had hoped for this decision for a while now, it was a mistake to wait for so long. Smaller ships will be able to continue to dock in the city center, but ultimately this only concerns a few boats, the tonnage set by the government is very low.

The ban began very quickly, from the 1er August. And it is final. The government will no longer backtrack. Obviously, cruise lines don’t like it, but I think they have had time to prepare for it. There will be provisional landing stages to allow them to disembark their passengers. And the government announced that an economic contribution would be granted to them temporarily to compensate for their losses.

Cruise ships will have to moor in the industrial port of Marghera, where new embarkation pontoons are to be built. The work is expected to take at least a year. Meanwhile, we cannot close the commercial port, too many people depend on it. Cruise ships will therefore have to take the Malamocco passage, the same as commercial freighters, tankers and container ships, outside the Lido. Without a quota being imposed, the number of cruise ships will be de facto limited since they will only be able to spend weekends and at specific times.

Ultimately, the goal is to build a new terminal dedicated to cruise ships in the next few years, outside the lagoon. For now, this aspect of the project is still unclear, but we are counting on the competition for good ideas, launched at the end of June, to imagine a viable solution.

Some Venetian organizations were calling for a total ban on cruise ships, it’s too extreme. It would kill our economy and endanger entire families. More than 100,000 people work in connection with cruises in Venice. They have already suffered from the cessation of tourism during the pandemic. This government decision is a compromise, which satisfies as many people as possible. Of course, there are still projects to be carried out to preserve Venice: the urban morphology, the restoration of heritage, the social question too. The city has lost its inhabitants over the years and risks becoming an open-air museum.

Without tourism, Venice is no longer Venice. But it needs to be more regulated. The Italian state already spends billions every year to achieve this goal: to make Venice a sustainable city and an example for the whole world. Already a project of mobile dikes (Mose) over 1.5 kilometers makes it possible to limit the impact of climate change and “Acqua alta”. More and more companies and industries are concerned with ecology. For all these reasons, we can say that Venice is no longer in danger today.


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