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02/05/2012 - 12:45

The San Francisco Chronicle publishes today this most interesting article:, I think that to allow cruise ships into the lagoon is lunacy. They should be banned immediately. The Costa Concordia tragedy should be a serious warning and even if this kind of accident does not happen again, Venice and its lagoon is too precious and fragile to allow cruise ships in it.



Banning cruise ships from the lagoon cannot come soon enough for me.   Their size is obscenely out of scale for the city and its surroundings. The ignorant tourists they debouch clutter up the sites. they bring nothing to the city. They follow their leader, ignoring you, bumping into you, at least they are all now wired for sound so the guides don't disturb the peace. When they depart to take their gross meals, the city breathes a sigh of relief.     Sorry for the rant, it just touches a nerve.

This debate has been going on for years, and it seems to me a bit 'opportunistic' for US media to get sucked into linking it to the Costa Concordia disaster. Venice is limited in tourist accommodation, but depends upon tourist spending to survive. It isn't as if these cruise ships just do a 'drive past' - the passengers disembark and spend money on the islands in the lagoon. If disembarcation was possible to the south of Giudeca (it isn't as if Venice lacks a wonderful water based peple moving capacity) then this would successfully address many of the aesthetic and 'big waves' concerns. It isn't that this is a logistical problem - the old redundant molino stuff on Giudeca (under the control of the comune) could, without great difficulty or expense, serve this purpose. Probably the graft opportunities of flogging this area off for 'housing' was more tempting, and more shortsighted. In a way, this all reflects the 'UK high street decline' stuff. So - what do you do? Persuade the masses that they can't afford ever to see Venice? Price it out of the market? Try to turn the clock back to when there were (not on the Grand Canal, but in the callé near Arsenale) proper butchers and markets? Nah - that's not possible: too much has been 'invested' (aka borrowed) with the promise of magnificent returns based on tourist revenues. I dunno: it's all about over successful 'branding'. I'd no more want to revisit Venice than I would Taormina or Capri or San Marino. Completely overcrowded tacky horrors living on (unimaginably historic) past glories pandering to the Disney generation. Whether, having made the choice to go this route, their 'governments' now regret chasing the fast buck - who knows. Somehow (given the loony idea of the current - or maybe the previous - mayor of Venice to punt for 'The Olympics') I doubt it. If you want canals, try the rather spoiled Comacchio, or (last time I was there) Chioggia. If you need to look at art in l'Accademia then November is the best time.

I'm not sure why people seem compelled to make gross generalisations - I'm an avid cruiser (have departed from Venice but not the lagoon and agree that the size of some of the ships are obscene for some surroundings - Venice being one.  However not everyone who cruises follows a tour guide , nor are they all ignorant or do they all eat gross meals etc etc. Ive never in my life had a tour guide but can understand why for some people they are useful, not everyone feels comfortable in a country where they can't speak the language if having a guide helps them to experience the culture etc then that to me is a "good" thing. Plus they spend a fortune eating in the bars/restaurants that those more familiar with the city know to avoid therefore bringing cash to the city alongside all the other millions of tourists that frequent the city.  So this ignorant tourist is cruising in the Caribbean in a couple of weeks.......can't wait :)

Well said La Dolcevita - don't you find that most of the people who criticise cruising have never cruised (or maybe went on the wrong ship), while most of the people who have cruised absolutely love cruising! "Gross meals" - where does that come from? - poster has clearly never tried Silversea! And why would tour-guided parties from cruise ships be any different from the hordes who come in by 'plane and have a tour guide? FWIW, I wholeheartedly agree that big ships should stand off outside the lagoon. TK

no,actually it's not about the hoards coming off the cruise ships or whether they spend or not.It's much more simple the cruise ships are destroying venice faster than anything else.many don't realise that venice stands on millions of wooden poles/trunks embedded in the floor of the lagoon and they've been there for centuries the problem is with the massive displacement of these giants of the sea and even at ticking over speed and manouvering literally pulls at the foundations of the city which start to collapse it's already underway.To my mind it's inconceivable to jeapordise this city just to give a thrill to cruise passangers who,as you rightly say, can stay in the caribbean and destroy coral barriers instead

I am all in favour of finding a compromise and I do not think that it would be impossible to keep the large cruise ships out of the most fragile areas. Passengers could still come to visit Venice, with or without guides (possibly, they will learn more if the first time they come they do it with a qualified guide, and education is a way of ensuring respect for the sites). Doing it this way, Venice will still get the revenue from visitors, but those who live in the area will not be inconvenienced. I agree with Fillide, local authorities should have planned things in a better way and allow for a more rational development of certain areas... But then, the same problem repeats itself in many places. In any case, if the Concordia disaster serves as a warning of what could happen to other places, at least there will be something positive coming out of this tragedy which should not have happened.

It can't come soon enough! I love Venice but last time we were there our stay was ruined by the sight of those great ugly cruise ships which are completely  incongruous in the lagoon. Not only that, but the sheer volume of tourists that they spill out each time they dock is a bit like trying to pour a quart into a pint pot!

I totally agree with Sebastiano, the major danger for Venice is the damage that those huge ships can cause to the structure that has been holding the city together for centuries. It is simply too fragile to be risked. Anyone who knows about boating and sailing will immediately understand it. Just the mass of water displaced by those giants, even at minimal speed, can cause severe erosion. 

You all had some interesting points. I've never been to Venice, but I'd love to go. So, I did some research to see whether the city will still exist in two years. I only really found this old article. Does anyone else know of any informative articles/videos? and the article did not really mention anything about the cruise ships. I understand that someone on a cruise might want to see Venice when there,but it is pretty short sighted to just get those monster ships into the lagoon

Well said La Dolcevita - don't you find that most of the people who criticise cruising have never cruised (or maybe went on the wrong ship), while most of the people who have cruised absolutely love cruising!  

You know, I don't think it's about hating cruising, but about companies who offer it and people who do it. It might be great to see all the sights and hop on the ship again, but if you're the one who has to deal with the sheer masses coming in everyday you can get right ticked off. Of course, I know that Venice lives off the tourists. I think it's just generally that big crowds can get quite aggravating. In that annoyed state one looks for bad traits and sees every difference or lack of knowledge as flaw.

Tourism IS killing Venice, not only in the sheer numbers who flock to the place year in, but also the City was not designed to cope with that influx of people, and with the cut backs that are gripping the whole of Italy the infrastructure will soon get to breaking point. A lot of Venice is looking tatty and run down as maintenance gets pushed to the back and still they flock there (water bottle in hand) tramping through it's deteriorating streets and Piazzas. If the Government does not step in and limit the volume of tourism then it will end up in the lagoon. Personally I stay clear now as the stench from the overworked drains and (not being racist or xenophobic) the massed ranks of Japanese tourists, and the rip of Cafe owners have spoilt what should be a pleasurable visitor destination.... read the same for Florence, Pisa, Rome and other 'attractions'.

Just come back from my caribbean cruise - and I did look at how the ships do sometimes seem incongrous to their surroundings - I've never seen a ship in the Venice lagoon and can see that it would look monstrous and if it's causing erosion problems then can see that an easy answer would be to do as our ship did - anchor elsewhere and tender/waterbus/taxi in. It seems to me that as a couple of poeple have already said it's a matter of balance - a cruise ship happens to "dump" a number of people at the same time - no different to lots of people arriving by other forms of transport - however without tourists what would happen to many cities/islands around the world.  Without tourism people would starve in some cases literally

Just as you say, La Dolcevita, it is a matter of finding the right balance. A total ban on tourism would be wrong and difficult to achieve; however, what can be controlled is the access of those huge ships detrimental to fragile environments. And I agree in that, without tourism, many towns and cities would disappear.