Italy finally bans cruise ships from the Venice Canal

The Italian government has banned cruise ships for entering the Venice lagoon in what seems to finally be a definitive end to a long road of twists and turns.

Protesters have been fighting against cruise ships in Venice for over a decade, unhappy with the ships environmental impact on the local waters and area, with tensions flaring recently after all 92,000 tonnes of the MSC Orchestra sailed into the canal last month.

The ship arrived despite the Italian government voting to ban cruise ships from entering the lagoon in April earlier this year. Even at the time, Tommaso Cacciari, the leader of No Grandi Navi, the leading advocacy group against cruise ships in the canal, responded to the vote with extreme scepticism due to a lack of offered alternatives.

However, after the newest ban, Mr Cacciari isn’t sceptical anymore.

“We finally seem to have got there,” says Mr Cacciari told news outlets.

This confidence comes from the Italian government’s specific terms and plan forward for the lagoon and cruise industry.

Having been pushed into a decision by UNESCO threatening to put Venice on its endangered list unless cruise ships were banned, the government has now announced a range of measures.

No vessels weighing more than 25,000 will be able to enter the lagoon and cruise ships that still want to enter Venice will have to wait until the port at the nearby town of Marghera is refurbished for passenger use.

A commissioner has been appointed to fast-track this process, aiming for an alternative to be in place for the 2022 cruise season.

The government also announced that workers and companies financially burdened by the changes will receive compensation. This shows the government has been listening to both sides, with Si Grandi Navi also having a large voice in the community.

Si Grandi Navi is a protest group that supports big ships due to the thousands of locals who rely on the cruise industry for their livelihood, highlighting the need for compensation and alternative port solutions.

The cruise industry has also welcomed the news, in particular the decision to speed up development of the Marghera terminal.

The Cruise Lines International Association said: “The cruise industry has been supportive of a new approach for many years, so this is a major step forward. Also, the government’s decision to appoint a special commissioner to fast-track the process is a welcome development. We now look forward to progress being made towards the provision of alternative docking arrangements in time for the 2022 season.”