Venice bans cruise ships from historic centre after UNESCO request

Venice bans cruise ships from historic centre with liners ordered to dock at an industrial port instead after UNESCO request

  • Culture minister announced the decision was in response to UNESCO request
  • The cruise ships will now be re-routed away from the city’s Giudecca canal
  • Dario Franceschini hailed the move as a ‘correct decision, awaited for years’
  • The decision comes after a cruise ship collided with a small tourist boat along one of Venice’s canals in June 2019, injuring four tourists

The Italian government has banned cruise ships from entering the historic centre of Venice, with the liners now ordered to dock at the city’s industrial port instead.

Italy’s culture minister yesterday announced the decision was in response to a request from UNESCO.

The large cruise and container ships will now be re-routed away from the historic city’s Giudecca canal, which leads to the popular St Mark’s Square. 

Instead, they will have to dock at an industrial port until a permanent solution is found following the government’s ‘call for ideas’.

The country’s culture minister Dario Franceschini hailed the move as a ‘correct decision, awaited for years’.

The Italian government has banned cruise ships from entering the historic centre of Venice, with the liners now ordered to dock at the city’s industrial port instead

Mr Franceschini tweeted: ‘A correct decision, awaited for years: the [Italian] Council of Ministers approves a decree-law that establishes that the final landing places of the big ships in Venice will have to be planned and realized outside the lagoon, as requested by UNESCO.’

The decision comes after a cruise ship collided with a small tourist boat along one of Venice’s canals in June 2019, injuring four tourists.

The collision, which saw the luxury MSC Opera cruise liner crash into the small River Countess and the San Basilio dock on the Giudecca Canal – one of the major canals in the ancient city.

Horrifying images showed the hulking cruise ship sounding its horn as petrified tourists attempted to move out of its way.

Passengers can be seen leaping from the river boat which was smashed in the head-on collision – leaving it severely damaged. 

Four female tourists, an American, a New Zealander and two Australians, were among those injured in the horror crash in June 2019

The decision comes after a cruise ship collided with a small tourist boat along one of Venice’s canals in June 2019, injuring four tourists

The next month another cruise liner narrowly missed ploughing into a Venice dock after its captain appeared to lose control of the vessel during a heavy storm. 

The Costa Deliziosa narrowly missed slamming into the dock but was unable to avoid scraping a smaller boat moored on the banks of the Sette Martiri.

A terrifying video taken from a bar on the pier shows the vessel appearing to head straight for the shore. Crew members were sent running for their lives during the nail-biting incident.   

The incidents provoked resentful residents of the city, which draws some 30 million tourists a year, to protest against the cruise liners in the historic centre. 

The city’s population of 55,000 claims the ships are threatening to overwhelm them, dropping off an estimated 30,000 visitors during the peak summer months. 

An Italian cruise ship had just seconds to swerve dry land in a Venice dock after its captain appeared to lose control of the vessel during a heavy storm

Venice has also suffered damage to its ancient wooden foundations from the bow waves of the enormous ships. 

A demonstration in July 2019 – which saw members of the campaign group Comitato No Grandi Navi gather at the Zattere waterfront – came the same day as one of Venice’s main attractions reopened its doors to tourists after the coronavirus crisis.

At the time, Covid-19 had killed more than 34,000 in Italy and caused the country’s tourism sector to effectively shut down to slow the speed.   

Protesters formed a ‘human chain’ along one of Venice’s most-popular promenades to highlight issues brought about by large cruise ships. 

Plans were announced in 2017 to divert the cruise ships away from the centre but they were not implemented. And in 2013, the Italian government banned heavy ships weighing 96,000 tonnes from Giudecca canal – but the law was overturned.  

Protesters gathered along Venice’s picturesque waterfront in July 2019 to demonstrate against mass tourism in Italy’s floating city

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