Giant Cruise Ship Crashes in Venice Lagoon

Tue, 06/04/2019 - 13:13
Giant Cruise ship crashes in Venice lagoon

A giant cruise ship lost control on Sunday as it was navigating along the Giudecca canal in Venice, crashing into a river boat and injuring five people.

The MSC Opera, a 275m-long (900ft) ship that can hold up to 2,600 people, had reported mechanical difficulties as it entered into the Venice port Sunday morning. According to BBC, a recording of the conversation between the ship captain and the harbor master reveals that the captain said that the engine was locked and that he had “activated all possible procedures to avoid impact.”

Tug boats tried to guide the ship in safely, to no avail; the cables attached to the tugboats reportedly broke down.

Unable to stop, the ship’s horn blared continuously to try to warn tourists on board a docked boat as well as the numerous people on the dock.

The collision renewed calls to ban giant cruise ships from the Venice lagoon, reigniting a controversy that has been going on for years between residents and activists, who say that the ships are too big for the lagoon, against the local and national government.  

Cruise ships alone bring in approximately two million visitors a year in one of the European cities most affected by the issue of overtourism (12 million people visit Venice every year).

Plans to enlarge part of the canal and move some cruise ships to a mainland area in Porto Marghera were announced last year, but it is unclear if they are moving forward, or if other solutions are being studied. Italy’s Environment Minister Sergio Costa tweeted: "What happened in the port of Venice is confirmation of what we have been saying for some time. Cruise ships must not sail down the Giudecca. We have been working on moving them for months now... and are nearing a solution."

The issue has been debated for at least seven years, involving five different governments, but fundamentally no solution has been found or implemented so far.