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Venice

Celebrities urge the Italian government to remove cruise ships in Venice. Image: atm2003/Shutterstock

Hollywood stars, fashion designers, writers and leading activists have joined the fight to ban mass-market cruise ships from sailing in the Venice lagoon.

Over 60 celebrities, including Cate Blanchett, Rob Lowe, Michael Douglas, Sir Michael Caine, Isabella Rossellini and Calvin Klein added their signatures to a petition addressed to Italian leaders for a stop in the “senseless devastation” brought on by the large vessels in the Italian city, The Wall Street Journal reported.

‘Dear Prime Minister, dear Minister,

Having prevailed against flood, pestilence, and war for more than thirteen centuries, Venice, the Queen of the Adriatic, and unparalleled UNESCO Word Heritage site, now, in a moment of relative tranquility, finds herself mortally threatened by the daily transit of gargantuan ocean liners, indifferent to the probable risk of catastrophe.

Since the flood of 1966, Italy and countless Italian and international supporters have contributed to the defense of the world’s most fragile city, eternally subject to destruction.

The absolute lack of respect presented by the outlandish spectacle of the ongoing obstruction and potentially destruction, of one of humanity’s pre-eminent monuments is not only dumbfounding but both morally and culturally unacceptable.

We urgently request an immediate and irrevocable halt to the traffic of the Big Ships in front of San Marco and along the Giudecca Canal putting an end to this senseless devastation.’

Large Princess, Celebrity and MSC ships pass through the Guidecca Canal and sail close to the city’s historic architecture and buildings such as St Mark’s Cathedral.

Although it’s a treat for the thousands of passengers on board, their proximity is causing damage to the city’s foundations and creating congestion on the water.

Last year, Italian authorities moved to reduce the number of large liners sailing in the lagoon by approving a cruise ship removal plan.

The strategy was to restrict vessels weighing over 96,000 tonnes and reducing the number of vessels weighing more than 40,000 tonnes.

The ban was expected to start in November 2014, but was suspended in March until the government could find an alternative route.

The Italian government has not yet responded to the petition.

Should big ships be banned from cruising in the Venice lagoon? Let us know what you think by leaving a comment below.