Venice's Controversial Cruise Ship Ban Lifted

Holland America cruise ship in Venice

By Kayla Turner 2015-01-12 14:22:32

The recently-imposed ban restricting large cruise ships from passing through Italy’s historic city of Venice has been lifted.

Venice's Regional Administrative Tribunal threw out the limit imposed in November 2014 for cruise ships over 96,000 gross tons, which roughly equates to 2,260 passengers, to sail along the Giudecca Canal and St Mark's basin to the city's main cruise terminal. The ban also limited the number of ships of 40,000 tons or more to five per day.

The tribunal was urged by numerous tourism groups and the Venice Passenger Terminal (VTP) to overturn the ban, but stated that any restriction on cruise ship travel would only be enacted after sufficient alternate routes for ships had been established.

Members of the Cruise Lines International Association (CLIA) have been voluntarily complying with the ban since the fall so the new decision will not go into effect immediately. 

The Italian Transport Ministry stated it will appeal the decision to the Council of State. Meanwhile, UNESCO's president of the Italian National Commission was reportedly appalled by the decision, claiming that the public interest should take precedent over cruise ships.

There is now added pressure for an alternative route to Venice to be built. According to http://www.cruisecritic.com/, the one suggested is Contorta-Sant'Angelo canal, which is a proposed excavation from port Marghera to Venice. The environmental impact assessment for this proposed new route will be released in March. The project would require an estimated 18 months for completion.

The restriction was put in place to prevent damage to the fragile buildings and environment in Venice and has caused significant controversy. Environmental groups have been protesting against the large ships for a number of years citing the destruction and potential for flooding of the historic landmarks, while ports and cruise industry employees have been arguing that the ships bring in millions of euros to the Venice economy.

Last year, the number of cruise ships sailing through Venice was capped at 708, compared to 809 in 2012, reports Fox News. A VTP spokesman said that Venice is not expecting any cruise ships over 96,000 gt this year, resulting in a predicted loss of just under 300,000 passengers, noting that the ban is a burden to the city’s thriving tourism industry.