Large cruise ships entering Venice will be given a wide berth starting November 30 in an attempt to minimize damage to the delicate lagoon on entry.
The Cruise Lines International Association (CLIA) announced the new step following a meeting with Italian environment, culture and transport ministers, and is the latest update in the long battle to ban cruise ships from entering the Venetian lagoon, after a regional court suspended a ban that was to become effective this year.
Italy's leading environmental group, Legambiente, strongly criticized the regional court last month for that decision. "It is certainly not a good sign, and it is the result of a reckless choice of recent years that has created the practice of channeling cruise ships in an environment where they should be banned," the association said the day after a regional court agreed to suspend the ban. The request had been submitted by companies operating in the port of Venice, including members of the cruise ship industry, a major employer in the local economy.
The ban was announced late last year; it would reduce the traffic volume of cruise ships weighing between 40,000 and 96,000 tonnes to no more than five ships a day, while an outright ban would be applied to those over 96,000 tonnes. The regional administrative court said the ban in Venice was unfitting because alternate routes for large cruise ships are lacking.
However, Legambiente suggested moving the port to the nearby town of Marghera: "Port operations must be reworked, moving the home port to Marghera, far from the fragile heart of the city, giving a new future to the city."
The suspension is set to last until June, when a hearing on the issue is scheduled.