The Italian government has announced a Venice cruise ship ban for when cruises to the iconic city resume, in an effort to protect the historic city centre from damage.
The Venice cruise ship ban will see all cruise traffic diverted from the Venice city centre to Marghera, a mainland industrial port nearby.
The government said the Venice cruise ship ban was necessary to “protect a historical-cultural heritage not only of Italy but of the whole world”.
In a statement, several Italian officials announced their support for the measures, including the Minister of Ecological Transition Roberto Cingolani, Minister of Culture Dario Franceschini, Minister of Tourism Massimo Garavaglia and Minister of Sustainable Infrastructures and Mobility Enrico Giovannini.
The statement highlighted that this is only a temporary measure, while a better solution is formulated. The ministers invited the private sector to present ideas on sustainable ways the landings out of the lagoon can be reinforced to solve the problem of large ship transit in Venice.
This would need to be done in a structural and definitive way that still protects and retains the infrastructural heritage of the Venice lagoon, a six thousand year old body of water.
The lagoon is a survivor of a system of estuarine lagoons that in Roman times extended from Ravenna north to Trieste. It was instrumental in the rise of the Venetian Empire from the Middle Ages to the 18th century, and to this day is a key part of the attraction of the iconic floating city.
Cruise ships have traditionally used the tourist terminal in Venice’s historic centre near St Mark’s Square, sailing on the Giudecca canal, which provides an incredible approach to the city.
But the wake from passing cruise ships puts unsustainable pressure on the city’s ancient foundations and the risk of further damage from a cruise ship accident, such as that of MSC Cruises, reignited debate about the feasibility of ongoing cruise ship traffic in the lagoon.
Venice is an incredibly popular cruise destination, with 329 cruise itineraries calling in the city for the 2021 cruise season, and 360 due for 2022.
The city was due to be visited by 1.2-million cruise passengers in 2020 before the pandemic and during the peak summer months, cruise ships can swell the city’s population by as much as 50% on any given day.