The attempt to ban large cruise ships passing through the Venice lagoon has just suffered a setback. A regional administrative court on Monday accepted a request to suspend restrictions on cruise ships. The restrictions were approved last November by the government of ex-premier Enrico Letta; they stated that the traffic volume of cruise ships weighing between 40,000 and 96,000 tonnes should be reduced to no more than five ships a day, while an outright ban would be applied to those over 96,000 tonnes.
The request to suspend the ban was submitted by Venezia Terminal Passeggeri, the organization that runs the Venice port, together with several companies active in the port and a committee representing cruise operators. The court said alternative routes for the ships have not been determined yet. The suspension is set to last until June, when a hearing on the issue is scheduled.
Environmentalists have warned that the cruise ships disrupt the fragile foundation of the Venice lagoon and of Venice itself and its monuments because they move massive amounts of water - besides the risks associated with such big vessels arriving so close to the city.
In the last 15 years, Venice has become one of the world's most important cruise destinations, with more than 650 cruise ships passing through the city annually.