Venice Won’t Ban Giant Cruise Ships After All

The cruise ship Costa Serena sailing in front of San Giorgio Maggiore in Venice. Photo by Marie-Lan Nguyen, Creative Commons 2.0 Generic license.

Venice has been ordered to lift its recently implemented ban on large cruise ships, the Art Newspaper reports. The restrictions, which went into effect in January, reduced by 20 percent the number of ships weighing more than 40,000 tons that would be allowed to dock at Venice’s cruise ship terminal. Ships of over 96,000 tons were to have been banned entirely as of November.

The issue at hand is the environmental impact of such large cruise liners, which, in addition to being eyesores, erode the Venetian canals and damage the city’s already-fragile foundations. Despite these concerns (which are casually dismissed by the industry), a regional tribunal has temporarily overturned the ban, allowing even the largest ships to make port. (The Telegraph notes that the nearly 140,000-ton MSC Divina is a regular visitor to the city.)

The ruling cited the need for viable alternative routes to be made available before the ban could be enacted. The Venice Port Authority recommends dredging the Canale Contorta Sant’Angelo for more direct access to the port, while mayor Giorgio Orsoni has suggested nearby Porto Marghera as an alternative, according to the Daily Mail. A Telegraph article published in November found that many cruise lines were uncertain as to how their itineraries would be impacted by the new restrictions.

A court hearing on June 12 will revisit the issue.

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