Government Bans Large Cruise Ships from St. Mark's Basin, Studies Alternate Route

Mon, 08/11/2014 - 04:18

Cruise  ships above 40,000 tonnes will be banned from St. Mark’s basin and the Giudecca Canal in Venice, it was announced on Friday.

Veneto Governor Luca Zaia tweeted on Friday that the decision by a committee of government ministers and local officials was unanimous. The committee has proposed a plan to create an alternate route through the excavation of the Contorta-Sant’Angelo canal and ordered an environmental report on its potential impact to be completed within 90 days. The canal project would cost 115 million euro.

However, this plan has been strongly criticized by environmentalist groups and the opposition group “No Big Ships”; they say big cruise ships should be kept out of the lagoon altogether and the docking should be moved to Porto Marghera.

Cruise ships currently pass within 1,000 feet of St. Mark’s Square, providing spectacular views of the city’s architecture. 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 – this in addition to the risk of collision.  

Last November the government of ex-premier Enrico Letta ordered a halt to large cruise ships passing through the Venice lagoon, effective from November 2014, and a limit on smaller cruise vessels. However, the decree was overturned by a regional court in March. Now the government has restored the ban, which will block all cruise ships exceeding 96,000 tonnes from Saint Mark’s basin and the Giudecca Canal from 2015, and also restrict traffic of smaller ships.