With growing uncertainty over the future of tourism, and especially cruise tourism, in the city of Venice, Royal Caribbean has pre-emptively dropped the city as a homeport for the summer 2021 season.
The cruise line will instead sail Rhapsody of the Seas from Ravenna, located 88 miles (143 kilometers) to the south, according to a letter sent to passengers, which was first reported by Royal Caribbean Blog.
“Given increased concerns regarding the future of cruising in Venice, Italy, in the future, Rhapsody of the Seas will now sail from a new homeport in Ravenna, Italy, a city located just a couple hours south of Venice,” read a letter sent to passengers booked aboard Rhapsody.
“Understanding how much time and effort go into planning your vacation, we’ve made the decision to ensure there’s minimal last-minute impact to your upcoming cruise,” it added.
Rhapsody of the Seas was due to cruise roundtrip from Venice between May and October next year, on 6-, 7- and 8-night cruises to the Greek Isles.
Even before the global suspension of all cruises due to the Coronavirus pandemic, the future of cruising in Venice was uncertain. The city has long had a contentious relationship with the cruise industry.
Many locals would like to see fewer tourists in the city during the high season, and cruise tourists are especially unwelcome. The city last year banned large cruise ships from docking in the city centre, and several incidents, such as the crash of MSC Opera into the Uniworld river cruise ship River Countess, have fueled calls to eliminate cruise tourism.
The global lockdown caused by the Coronavirus pandemic prevented any tourists from visiting Venice, and essentially gave locals their city back. Now, many of those locals are campaigning for limits on the number of tourists allowed into the city during the high season.
Such plans leave little room for the several thousands tourists at a time that disembark from visiting cruise ships.
In the letter to guests, Royal Caribbean said that it would be offering booked passengers complimentary transportation from Venice Marco Polo Airport to the ship and back, while private transfers from Ravenna to Venice will also be made available.
Venice is still listed as a port of embarkation on more than 300 itineraries for 2021 with several cruise lines, including Costa Cruises, Princess Cruises, AIDA, Viking, MSC, Norwegian Cruise Line, Regent Seven Seas, Holland America and others.
It’s unclear whether these cruise lines will also drop the city as a homeport in the coming months, but with Venice becoming increasingly hostile to cruise tourists, its likely they may be forced to in the coming years.