After just two months, Italian authorities have overturned their ban on large cruise ships passing through the ports of Venice.
The ban, which came into place in November last year, prevented all ships over 96,000 gross tons from sailing along the Guidecca Canal and into Venice’s main cruise terminal in an attempt to decrease damage to historic city and prevent flooding. It also limited the amount of ships weighing 40,000GT from entering to just five per day.
Despite backing from high-profile celebrities such as Michael Douglas and Cate Blanchett, the ban was overruled this week, to the joy of tourism officials who had feared a devastating impact on the economy. The Venice Passenger Terminal had predicted losses of just under 300,000 passengers a year as a result of the ban.
Environmentalists are concerned not just about potential flooding but also the corrosive smog from large cruise ships that threatens to harm the city’s medieval buildings. Activists also claim that vibrations from the ships might be damaging the city’s foundations.
The final decision on alternative routes for these ‘skyscrapers of the sea’ is still yet to be handed down by the Italian government.
However, as the Cruise Lines International Association (CLIA) has pointed out, final itineraries have already been drawn up for 2015 and the larger ships will have to avoid Venice until the end of the year. These ships include Princess Cruises’ Regal Princess and Emerald Princess, Celebrity Cruises’ Equinox and Silhouette as well as some Costa Cruises and MSC vessels.
In a statement, CLIA said, “CLIA acknowledges and respects the verdict of Veneto’s Regional Administrative Court. Our position on this matter has always been clear: CLIA and its member lines have chosen to voluntarily refrain from bringing ships with a gross tonnage of more than 96,000 Gt to Venice until a new navigational route becomes operational.
“We are looking forward to welcoming a final decision by the Italian government on the alternative route for big ships in Venice.”