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Venice finally bans cruise ships from its lagoon

Article on CNN. I'd say it is long overdue.

Posted by
4162 posts

Allan posted this on the Forum last week, and some comments ensued:
https://community.ricksteves.com/travel-forum/italy/kick-me-if-you-ve-read-this-before
The article featured in that thread reported the ban was temporary, for now. Although this CNN article indicates that diversions to the Marghera port are now disallowed, it says that further safeguard requirements are envisioned by some. What happens, and when, will be important to preserve the sinking city, and keep it from being just a jewel box stop for hit-and-run cruise excursions.

Posted by
3571 posts

As their hope seems to be to move them entirely out of the lagoon, finding and building an alternative will take time. And to find a low impact transport system from port. As it mentions, plans voted on in 2019 fell apart after elections.
Do I recall correctly of years of delay in the tide control system....overbudgets, graft, etc? My sceptical side feels this will go the same way.
Yes, I do take cruises, but I will be happy to see this come into fruition sooner than later for the benefit of Venice. I just won't hold my breath.

Posted by
6992 posts

Maybe the sight of a ship crosswise in the Suez stuck in a sand bank, made the prospect of a ship crosswise in Venice, in one or more buildings, just too horrifying to let it continue

HOORAY

Posted by
1605 posts

Horrifying?
Terrifying?
Floating Petri Dish?

Holy Drama Batman!

Posted by
1605 posts

To be honest, the first time I saw it, I was surprised that cruise ships were allowed to pass so closely to the Grand Canal, but I did think the actual port was well hidden and so didn't understand the controversy until I researched it more.

I've got no problem with the move if it improves quality of life in Venice, but let's not forget that every action will have a reaction. This article is from last year which was the last time a ban was announced.

https://www.cruisetradenews.com/impact-of-venice-cruise-ship-ban/

“However, it is probable that redirected tourists will commute to the
central islands via large coaches and taxi services instead.

“This will spread the issue of over-tourism to new areas outside of
the centre, creating traffic congestion that will pollute suburban
areas.

Those cruisers still need to get to Venice somehow, so if it's not land congestion it will be water congestion. How many boats and trips will be required to bring those people to Venice? Plus it will not solve the volume of tourists problem, there will still be 1.6 million people arriving annualy by ship as well as the other 29 million that arrive annually by trains, planes and automobiles.

Posted by
31185 posts

I'm sure many "cruisers" won't be happy about this but it's long overdue (IMO)! I hope to never again see images like this - https://images.app.goo.gl/A6aWLRoMrjUUHPDs6 . Venice is unique and irreplaceable and if the foundations are eroded too badly, it's going to be difficult to save.

Posted by
4213 posts

I've never understood the appeal of cruising and whilst I'm off the mindset to accept that others may enjoy it the problem is that the ships are so intrusive and impact on other people. My trip to Kotor was heavily impacted by these behemoths. My view across the bay was ruined every day, my peace disturbed by the unnecessary use of their horns and the sounds of the exercise classes taking place on deck could be heard throughout the bay. Cruise ships are an abomination, they should stay out at sea if people want to sail and leave the old cities to be explored via less obnoxious means.

Posted by
1116 posts

Change, especially a big change like this, moves slowly in Italia, but I hope they do find a way to make this happen. The super huge ships are impacting Venice. The tourists will find a way to come anyway because this is an iconic place, but it needs to be protected.

Posted by
4213 posts

Well said, JC. Are you a writer by profession?

No, just a curmudgeon.

Posted by
4162 posts

There are boats, then there are cruise ships, then there are MEGA Cruise Ships. Imagine, on the other side of Italy, the Roman Colosseum being passed throughout the day by 17-decker buses, a couple hundred feet long, four traffic lanes wide. Rumbling along, stones in the walls would be subjected to seismic distress. Then each bus would unload a hoard of people at once, so an already busy sight would be inundated by an overwhelming additional swarm of people. Some would take their selfies and leave. Some might have time to see more of Rome before the megabus curfew arrived, and the bus departed, thumping its way down the street. By land or by sea, too big is too big.

Posted by
4213 posts

But, I don't find other tourists who happen to have arrived off a ship any more annoying than those who arrived by bus tour, railway or aeroplane.

It's not the tourists I object to but the ships themselves. Giant monstrosities plonking down in waters not really intended for them and with the attendant noise, pollution, disturbance to marine life and an absolute eyesore.

I also felt for the market stall holders based at the port of Kotor who inevitably experienced a drop in trade when a huge ship or five docked because of the inevitable increase in traffic. For many locals I can imagine that the effort taken to get to the market on such days wasn't worth it. Having sat through traffic in order to drive to the next town I wouldn't want to repeat the experience. I doubt very much that the cruise passengers were stopping by to purchase fruit, vegetables or fish.

Posted by
48 posts

I have been to Venice four times, the last time was to take a cruise to Turkey. The ship was docked far away from the city proper, when we left it took about an hour to cruise past St Marks and out to sea. The channel was obviously deep enough for the ship and I don't believe we bothered anyone. Was this as bad as the throng of tourists on the Rialto Bridge or on the little bridge looking at the bridge of sighs or the countless amount of tourists in St Marks square on any given afternoon or early evening, I think not. It seem most of the readers in this forum have a repugnant opinion of cruise ships, OK, fine: everyone has the right to their opinions, however, thinking that people on cruises are of a lower class of tourist than yourselves needs some inner thought on the matter.

Posted by
173 posts

Unlike the majority, I found watching the cruise ship pass by fascinating. Once they are in port you don’t see them. The idea of the many buses or boats bringing in day visitors would be a continuous traffic jam.

Posted by
1605 posts

There are boats, then there are cruise ships, then there are MEGA
Cruise Ships.

Currently cruise ship size is limited to medium size (?), not sure of the terminology. But mega ships of 5000 passengers have been banned for years. What happens with the move? It's an industrial port, does that mean the mega ships will fit? Careful what you wish for, the change may result in an increase in tourist numbers.

Posted by
24641 posts

The idea of the many buses or boats bringing in day visitors would be a continuous traffic jam.

I would have thought of joining on the light rail or heavy rail would have been perfect.

1,000 people and their luggage easily fit on a 12 coach train.

Posted by
1924 posts

I've cruised out of Venice a few times, primarily on Princess & Oceania cruise lines. I am not a big fan of cruising, but my wife is... and sometimes the BOSS decides she needs a "fix" so we would cruise out of Civitavecchia or Venice. I was impressed when they opened the People Mover to take you from the train station/Piazzale Roma to your ship. As we arrived primarily by train, it was quite convenient.

On all our Venice cruises, whether we were departing from or arriving in Venice, we were always scheduled to have an "extra" night on the ship. We'd generally depart after 5 PM, and yes, we'd do the drive-by of St. Marks Square. The cruise lines offered shore excursions and boat transfers to allow cruisers easy access to different parts of the city. Living in Rome, when friends/relatives came to visit you, you knew you were going to Florence, Pompeii, Pisa... and of course, Venice. Thus, we'd been there quite often and did not partake in any excursions (I often left my wife on board and did hotel site inspections or met business partners).

They'd ask me where I was staying... and I'd say I'm leaving soon on a cruise, we're already on board. I'd ask them their thoughts on the cruise ships, cruisers, etc. Almost to a person, they had a negative attitude towards the cruise lines. The hoteliers said, "They don't stay with us - rather on the ship." The restaurants told me, "They don't eat with us at night, as they're dining on the ship." The tour coordinators would say, " We don't have access to most of these folks because we don't have a contract with the cruise line"... and so on. From their perspectives, the cruisers did nothing to enhance their businesses. And then would move quickly into their perception of the perceived damage the cruise ships did to buildings, docks, shipping lanes, etc. Not to mention the overcrowding, (and there were many other reasons, which I just don't recall). I did ask if they thought Venice would be a "better place" without cruise lines. They said NOT ALL CRUISE LINES, but to perhaps limit the number of ships in port, or further reduce the ship size.

That said, although I'm not a cruiser, I'm not anti-cruising. I'm usually good for about 3-4 days... then I get bored (I must have Wi-fi if nothing else for phone access via WhatsApp). Conversely, my wife could stay on a ship year-round. But for first-timers to an area - or to Europe - cruising offers the opportunity to see locations you've never seen without unpacking. And there's safety and security in knowing where you'll be dining and sleeping that night. Cruises are a great tool to gather information for future trips! And yes, some of the folks I met on cruises LOVED cruising. They were quite passionate and made some great points on "Why you should cruise."

It will be interesting to see how Venice handles these changes, both logistically and financially. And as a result, how "permanent" this announced solution is.

Posted by
861 posts

The whole ”cruise taking in Venice” thing is moot. People go on cruises and take in cities like Florence, Rome and the Cinque Terre. Last time I looked is saw no cruise liners in the Arno or Tiber, nor in any of the CT towns.
Liners dock in Livorno, 90km from Florence, Civitavecchia which is 70km from Rome, and La Spezia, not exactly downtown to the CT towns.

So the cruise liners servicing Venice can berth elsewhere. Marghera port can handle big vessels, entering the lagoon via the Pellestrina/Chioggia entry, and using the Petroleum Canal which leads all the way to Marghera.

Then use ferries from Marghera to Tronchetto in Venice.

Posted by
1685 posts

It's not the tourists I object to but the ships themselves.
Actually, I find the typical cruise ship tourist objectionable as well. They have a different mindset. They feel pressed for time and fear getting back late to their ship. This is exacerbated when there's some traveling distance from the port to the destination, for instance Rome.
This desire to see as much as possible in not enough time, plus their underlying fear of being left leads them to act with a sense of entitlement. They become aggressive, shoving people out of the way so the can get a better selfie. It's become a dead heat between two groups on vying for the crown of being the more obnoxious - American tourists or Asian tourists.

I work with some folks who love to cruise. They are the kind of people I have no desire to be around after work. They are the kind that like to eat at buffets and get drunk in bars. To avoid running into their ilk when we travel, we go off season and visit places unreachable by either big cruise ships or river cruise ships.

Posted by
1605 posts

I work with some folks who love to cruise. They are the kind of people
I have no desire to be around after work. They are the kind that like
to eat at buffets and get drunk in bars.

That's an extreme generalization isn't it? I love to cruise, but I also love other methods of travel. I rarely hit the buffet, except to grab a yogurt and muffin for breakfast and my entire alcohol consumption on an annual basis would be less than a 6-pack. For many of us, a cruise is just another method to get from place to place and to store my suitcase.

Posted by
1685 posts

That's an extreme generalization isn't it?

Yes, it's a generalization based on my coworkers and our experience on a Viking River cruise.

I found our river cruise and the concept of ocean cruises to be very passive. It's just not who we are. For instance, we live about 6 hours from Disney World, yet that's not our choice for a Florida vacation. We go to small towns in the Gulf and I used to take my Hobie catamaran and we'd spend our days sailing.

Posted by
861 posts

This is not quite correct. Ships will still traverse the lagoon, just not the Giudecca canal. They will enter via the Pellestrina/Chioggia entry and proceed to Marghera via the Petroleum Canal.