Venice Finally Restricts Cruise Ships

Venice and Cruise ShipsItalian Transport Minister Graziano Delrio announced that cruise ships of certain tonnage will be stopped from cruising through the city's Giudecca Canal around the historic St Mark's Square. In "three or four years," large cruise ships of certain displacement will have to go to the north to the industrial port city of Marghera. Some newspapers report that the restriction will apply to ships of over 55,000 tons  whereas other newspapers state that the limitation will apply to ships over 100,000 tons

This comes after complaints from environmental groups, protests from local residents, and warnings from UNESCO which has labeled the fragile city of Venice as at risk from deterioration by large ships as well as the millions of tourists which swarm into the popular city. 

My family visited Venice during a trip to Italy last year (photo below).  I was last in Venice in the summer of 1978 (photo above left) when I was a college student. (Read my thoughts in Are Cruise Ships Ruining Venice Or Just Memories From My Youth?)  As our family watched tour groups of 20-30 cruise passengers pour through the tight street and congregate in the plazas, my oldest son commented that he thought the city seemed "infested with tourists."

Venice has banned monster cruise ships in the past (over 96,000 tons) only to see the industry cruise around the restrictions. 

Have a comment? Please leave a message below or join the discussion on our Facebook page. 

November 10, 2017 Update:  It seems that the issue is more complicated than it appears. : What is Happening to Venice?  Venice’s cruise ship ban is hiding its tourism problem, not fixing it.

Photo credits: Jim Walker

Venice Cruise Ship

 

MSC Magnifica Security Guard Inadvertently Discharges Gun in Port in Venice

MSC MagnificaAccording to the Italian newspaper Gazzettino, this past weekend there was "panic" onboard the MSC Magnifica cruise ship docked in Venice after a security guard inadvertently fired a gun while passengers were boarding the ship. 

The facts are a bit sketchy. The newspaper says that a security guard left a handgun in a pouch inside a basket which was somehow passed through a metal detector. The weapon was then found by another security guard on the Magnifica. Another Italian newspaper mentions a baby carrier that the gun may have been placed on. In any event, a security guard on the cruise ship handled the gun when it unexpectedly discharged. A bullet from the gun ricocheted off the floor and struck a wall of the ship, "wreaking havoc." No one was injured. but a nearby passenger reportedly hear the gunshot and fainted, according to the newspaper. 

Comments to the weird article suggest that the Magnifica has armed security personnel because the cruise ship allegedly encountered a recent security incident involving pirates during an African itinerary.  (To our knowledge, with the exception of Costa and MSC, most cruise lines do not carry guns). 

Hat tip:  Cruise Hive

Photo Credit:  MSC cruise ship (Orchestra shown in Venice) - Jim Walker  

No Grandi Navi? Norwegian Jade Photobombs George Clooney's Wedding in Venice

Last night, like most nights, I was watching Erin Burnett's show Outfront on CNN.

At the end of the program, Jeanne Moos did a short special on George Clooney's wedding in Venice earlier that day. He had gone to the wedding in a highly published boat procession down the beautiful canals of Venice.

Venice, of course, is embroiled in the No Grandi Navi controversy which I have written about many times where environmentalists are trying to safeguard Venice by prohibiting giant cruise ships from Norwegian Jade sailing by the historic city. 

So there was handsome Mr. Clooney with his beautiful wife-to-be on a little beautiful little vintage, highly-polished wooden speed boat in a canal with lots of other little boats full of Hollywood guests and hundreds of paparazzi with cameras when the wedding procession was blocked by - you guessed it - a gigantic cruise ship.  

The villain was the Norwegian Jade which loomed over the canal like the huge Cloverfield science fiction monster.

Jeanne Moos commented to Erin Burnett: "The only obstacle in way of the Clooney cavalcade -- a giant cruise ship. Steer clear, George, the last thing you want on your honeymoon is to kiss the bride with a norovirus."  Jeanne Moos, CNN, New York (END VIDEOTAPE)

Ah, a norovirus cheap shot from CNN! (But CLIA tells us that the dreaded noro bug is really a rarity!)

As the program ended, Erin Burnett also couldn't help herself. She responded to Ms. Moos, referring to the feces and urine filled red bio-hazard bags from the infamous Carnival Triumph "poop cruise" which CNN aired endlessly, "that's true, you don't need any red bags on your honeymoon."  

 

September 30 2014 Update: As pointed out by TravelPulse, CBS has an interesting video of the NCL cruise ship crashing the party.

Photo Credit: Twitter via TravelPulse

San Marco Basin in Venice Re-Opens to Mega Cruise Ships, MSC Preziosa Smashes Passenger Corridor at Port

MSC Preziosa VeniceThe Italian publication Medi Telegraph reports that the MSC cruise ship, Preziosa, collided with a large passenger walkway at the port of Venice.

The newspapers in Italy, such as La Nuova, refer to the pedestrian corridors at the maritime station as "fingers" which provide access to the upper decks of the cruise ship..

Despite the presence of two tugs and a pilot on board the ship, the Preziosa, smashed into and destroyed one of the fingers. No one at the pier or on the cruise ship were injured.

The collision, which damaged the starboard bow of the ship, occurred on the day of the reopening of the San Marco Basin to the mega-ships. The incident will add to the debate whether gigantic cruise ship should be permitted to sail in the basin so close to the beautiful buildings of the old city.

You can see photos of the ship and the pedestrian "fingers" in the La Nuevo newspaper.

Venice Bans Monster Cruise Ships

The Gazzetta del Sud newspaper reports that government officials in Rome, Italy ordered a halt to large cruise ships passing through the Venice lagoon, effective November 2014. The outright ban on cruise ships applies to those ships over 96,000 tons. (The Costa Concordia is 114,500 tons).

The legislation comes after years of debate and highly charged emotions regarding the effect of increasingly larger cruise ships on the historic old city. 

According to the newspaper, environmentalists warn that the lagoon surrounding Venice, an UNESCO Venice - Large Cruise Ship Banheritage site, is at risk due to its fragile ecosystem. Experts warn that the thousand-year-old wooden piles that prop up the city underwater would crumble like toothpicks under the weight of a 114,500-ton cruise ship like the Costa Concordia cruise ship.

In September, there were protests against the cruise industry which were widely reported in Italy, although the news did not gather much attention in the U.S. You can see photographs of the giant ships here. The Miami-based cruise industry took a rather arrogant approach to the local protesters and largely disregarded them as a radically based nuisance.   

The Italian government also announced a limit on smaller cruise vessels which will become effective in January. Cruise ships more than 40,000 tons must be reduced to 20% of their current volume in Venetian waters. 

The new law was enacted with heavy references to the Costa Concordia disaster last year.

Cruise traffic will eventually be rerouted so that any maritime accident would not approach the best-known and most vulnerable parts of the city and would reduce the disruption of the fragile foundation of the city.

Read some of our prior articles about Venice and the threat of larger cruise ships:

Cruise Ships Swamp Venice

Carnival Sunshine Buzzes Venice & Rekindles Controversy

Monster Cruise Ships Menace Venice

Are Cruise Ships Ruining Venice Or Just Memories From My Youth?

Have a thought about Venice and cruise ships? Please leave a comment below or join the discussion on our Facebook page.  

 

Webcam credit: ismar.cnr.it 

Cruise Ships Swamp Venice

Newspapers are reporting that today the residents of Venice will protest the procession of over a dozen cruise ships which will sail through St Mark's Basin. The Guardian states that a canal-bank protest is scheduled "over an invasion of up to 13 cruise ships in the space of 24 hours which  . . . will turn St Mark's Basin into a motorway."

The protest will raise awareness of the negative effect of the cruise industry on Venice and its citizens. 

The newspaper quotes 75 year-old Italian singer, Adriano Celentano, who took out a page in the Venice Italy Cruise Ship Conjestioncountry's biggest-selling daily newspaper to proclaim: 

"Tomorrow will not be a nice day for our city, even if the sun is out . . . With the ignoble procession of 13 ships in the Venice lagoon comes the Eternal Funeral of the world's beauties." 

The newspaper also quoted Silvio Testa, spokesperson for the No Grandi Navi committee: 

"We want to say 'enough' to this situation . . . St Mark's Basin is like a motorway. Soon we'll have to put traffic lights up."

A month ago, a Carnival cruise ship, the Carnival Sunshine, was alleged to have come within 20 meters of the shore in Venice. Carnival denied the incident, claiming photographs distorted the distance between the ship and shore.  You can watch a video of the incident below. Seems congested to me . . .

You can read my article about my personal feelings about cruise ships and Venice here.  

An Italian blog listed the following cruise ships will sail into Venice today: Azamara Journey, Azamara Quest, MSC Divina, Queen Victoria, Royal Clipper, Norwegian Spirit, Norwegian Jade, Queen Elizabeth, Seabourn Odissey, Ruby Princess, Splendour of the Seas, and the Harmony G.

Follow the discussion about cruise ships and Venice on our Facebook page.  

See images of the MSC Divina leaving Venice today.

 

Photo Credit: Pazzoperilmare Blog 

Carnival Sunshine Buzzes Venice & Rekindles Controversy

Venice Carnival Sunshine Cruise ShipA reader of this blog from Italy just sent me several articles regarding what many are describing as a near miss between a Carnival cruise ship and the Riva Sette Martiri, close to the Piazza San Marco (the principal public square of Venice, Italy).

An Italian newspaper reports that the Carnival Sunshine was sailing in the basin near Venice when its stern swung perilously close to the Riva Sette Martiri. Onlookers estimated the distance to be approximately 20 meters from the historic site.

A local commissioner complained that around 11 AM on July 27th, the Carnival ship, weighing over 102 thousand tons, 272 meters long, 35 meters wide and 62 meters high, almost struck one of the piers near Venice's Piazza San Marco. 

The impression was that is was either error in the operation of the cruise ship, or that the ship was conducting a "flyby" (also referred to as a "bow") for the thrill of the passengers. 

The newspaper article contains several first hand accounts that the Carnival ship was "tailing" out of the channel and close to the shore. One person said It's not the first time that happened." 

Venice Carnival Cruise Ship Carnival responded by stating that this was a "false story." The cruise line was quoted stating that the news is "completely false." Carnival claims that its cruise ship was over 72 meters from the shore and was following the planned route and was well within the permissible limits. Carnival also stated that the ship was under the command of a local port pilot. The distance from the shore was tested both by Carnival and the Italian Coast Guard based on the data of the VDR (voyage data recorder) of the ship.

Its hard to tell from the video below exactly how close the cruise ship came to shore. My thought is that whether it's 20 meters or 70 meters, either way that's too close to the shore of this beautiful city.

But whatever happened, it's sure to rekindle the debate whether monster cruise ships have any business in these waters.

Italians are naturally sensitive to the prospect of a massive ship causing damage to its historical treasures. The Costa Concordia disaster is still in everyone's minds.  Even more recent was the Jolly Nero incident. A large container ship cashed into a pier at a port in the Italian city of Genoa, causing numerous deaths and catastrophic damage.

There has been a great deal of controversy whether huge cruise ships like this should be permitted to sail into the basin by Venice. Environmentalists argue that cruise ships are overwhelming Venice with tourists and causing significant air pollution and eroding the foundations of the historical city. 

My personal thoughts about the issue are expressed in an article Are Cruise Ships Ruining Venice Or Just Memories From My Youth? 

Update / Correction: I erroneously referred to the basin by Venice as the "'Grand Canal."  The cruise ship was not in the Grand Canal, rather it was in the Guidecca canal,

The Daily Mail has an article about the incident with additional video and photos.  

Another newspaper, the Independent, published an article Cruise Ship Has Alleged Close Call in Venice.  It quotes Carnival saying that the captain was at the helm, not a port pilot.

July 29 2013 Update: Some newspapers in the U.K. are suggesting that the Carnival cruise ship was saluting CEO Micky Arison who was on a yacht nearby. Arison defends the maneuver on Twitter, tweeting: "To all my Venetian friends. Capt, Pilot, & Coast Guard with GPS evidence agree that the ship made a normal & safe transit thru the lagoon."

A cruise blogger, John Honeywell, who was on the Carnival Sunshine at the time of the alleged flyby, confirmed that Arison's yacht, Sirona III, was moored in the basin and that Arison was standing at the stern of the yacht when the cruise ship came by. Honeywell was an invited guest and was part of a group of U.S. and U.K. travel writers.  He later wrote a piece defending his cruise line host, calling the articles about the incident "ludicrous" and "complete nonsense."  

 

 

Here We Go Again: Norovirus Sickens 100 Passengers on Crown Princess Sailing to Galveston

Princess Cruises Crown Princess NorovirusA Galveston television station reports that a Princess Cruises' ship, sailing from Venice, Italy with a final destination in Galveston, has stricken nearly one cruise passengers with the dreaded norovirus.

KHOU states that the 20-day cruise turned out to be the "trip from hell" for dozens of passengers who fell ill. Ninety six passengers and six crew members on the Crown Princess became ill with the highly contagious norovirus.

With passengers stricken with nausea, vomiting and diarrhea, a spokesperson for Princess Cruises responded that the cruise line took "extra precautions" with sanitation such as disinfecting "high-touch surfaces like railings, door handles and elevator buttons, encouraging passengers to use correct hand washing procedures and enhancing this with the use of hand sanitizing gels placed throughout the ship." 

Like all other of the many cruise norovirus cases, there will be no effort to scientifically determine the cause of the outbreak and try and track it down to either hand-to-hand contact from a passenger or crew member or from contaminated food or water.  Yes the enhanced cleaning is appropriate but Crown Princess Cruise Ship Noro Viruswon't do too much good if the nasty bug is in the food and/or water.  

The Crown Princess cruise ship left Venice on December 2, 2012 and is scheduled to arrive in Galveston on Saturday.

The Crown Princess experienced several bouts of norovirus earlier this year resulting in hundreds sick and one cruise to be cut short.

The first outbreak struck on the ship's January 28, 2012 cruise cruise and again on the February 4, 2012 cruise with several hundred passengers and crew members becoming ill. After the second outbreak Princess brought the ship back to Fort Lauderdale two days early for an “enhanced cleansing protocol.”

The Crown Princess also had some nasty noro outbreaks in December 2011 which you can read about here and here.

Anyone with info about this latest outbreak please leave a comment below. Or please leave a comment on our facebook page about this story.

Crown Princess Web Cam GalvestonDecember 22, 2012 Update: I am informed that there was a "red alert" for disease outbreak aboard the Crown Princess throughout the Atlantic crossing.  The cruise ship is now in Galveston (as you can see from the ship's bridge cam) and the CDC will board.  If you were on the cruise, how do you think the cruise line handled the outbreak?  Is around 100 sick passengers an accurate number of guests affected by the norovirus?  

Don't forget to read: "Why Do the Cruise Lines Always Blame the Passengers When Norovirus Breaks Out?"

 

Photo credit:

Top: AP via Fox News

Middle: WPTV

Bottom: Princess Cruises

Carnival Breeze to Cross Picket Line in Venice

Venice Italy - Transport Workers StrikeTravel Agent Central published an interesting article today mentioning that a nationwide strike in Italy is scheduled for today by the Italian Public Transport Workers.

The article was written by one of the employees of Travel agent Central who is cruising on Carnival's new cruise ship, the Carnival Breeze, which sailed into Venice this morning.

Carnival's Cruise Director John Heald apparently informed the passengers over the ship’s public address system of the strike and said that the water taxis and water buses (vaporetto) in Venice will not be operating. Heald told the cruise guests not to worry, noting that Carnival was working on alternative transportation including arranging for boats to shuttle from the cruise dock over to St. Mark’s Square and back. 

I think that I'd walk from the dock to St. Marks. Yes it's a hike, but crossing a picket line is not how I would want to spend my vacation . . . 

Monster Cruise Ships Menace Venice

The UK's Mail Online newspaper has some interesting photographs today regarding the ongoing protests by environmental groups in Italy who are trying to protect the beautiful city of Venice from the effects of water pollution, air emissions and erosion of historical building by traffic from huge cruise ships.

Earlier this week we addressed this issue in our article Italian Environmentalists Urge Sofia Loren to Stop "Monster of the Sea" from Attacking Venice.  

Over the past 25 years, the number of cruise passengers cruising into Venice increased from 280,000 to 1,800,000 last year.

Over 650 gigantic cruise ships sail into Venice every year now.  Unlike the quaint gondolas historically associated with the city, cruise ships today are 1,000 feet long, weigh 140,000 tons and have drafts well over 25 feet. They pose a substantial risk to this fragile Italian city which is struggling against mass tourism and the deterioration of the city's underwater foundations. 

Here is my view of the problem last year: Are Cruise Ships Ruining Venice Or Just Memories From My Youth

Take a look at the spectacle below.  Do you trust the titans of the cruise industry with the survival of historical sites like this?  Do you trust the Micky Arisons of the world to be the curators of Venice?  

Cruise Ships - Venice - MSC Divina

Cruise Ships - Venice - MSC Divina

Photo credit: Getty Images via Mail Online 

Italian Environmentalists Urge Sofia Loren to Stop "Monster of the Sea" from Attacking Venice

Italians concerned with the negative effects of air and water pollution have appealed to actress Sophia Loren to stop a cruise ship named in her honor from visiting Venice. 

An environmental organization, the "No Big Ships Venice Committee," wrote an open letter to the star asking for her support in keeping the MCS Divina and its passengers and crew of 4,500 from entering the fragile lagoon which surround the historic city.  Ms. Loren christened the Divina last month. 

In addition to air emissions and water discharges, the environmental group is concerned that the heavy Ruby Princess Invades Venice cruise traffic is eroding and cracking the foundations of historic buildings.  The group is asking the famous movie star to renounce her role as godmother of the ship in an effort to protect Venice. 

Italia Nostra (Our Italy), the country's leading conservation group, is also involved in trying to keeping large cruise ships out of the Venice lagoon.

Since 1987, the number of cruise passengers cruising through Venice has risen from 280,000 to 1,800,000 last year.

The huge cruise ships on steroids are grossly out-of-scale when juxtaposed next to the historic buildings in Venice.  Last year I wrote a couple of articles about the spectacle of monster ships invading Venice: Will the Juggernauts of the Seas Ruin Venice? and Are Cruise Ships Ruining Venice Or Just Memories From My Youth?

 

Photo Credit:  EcoTraveller / Mostly Dans

 

June 3, 2012 Update:

A number of readers brought to my attention, ironically enough, that the Carnival Breeze is making its inaugural cruise out of Venice this weekend.  Carnival's CEO Micky Arison is even posting photos online via Twitter.  The first photo is of the Breeze arriving in Venice and the second photo posted by Arison has the caption "What a beautiful night shot of Carnival Breeze."     

I suppose that's debatable.  I for one would prefer to see the gondolas of Venice without a gigantic cruise ship plowing though the waters behind them.  And I would hate to look out my balcony window and see the freakish sight of a Miami cruise-based cruise ship lighting up the night sky of Venice while blowing emissions all over the place.

Will the Juggernauts of the Seas Ruin Venice?

The Telegraph in the U.K. has an interesting article this weekend - "Cruise Ships Could Be Shut Out of Venice Over Erosion Fears."

The article points out that environmentalists and heritage groups have long complained that mammoth cruise ships plow through the shallow Venetian lagoon and damage the fragile canal banks, wooden piles and mud banks on which the city rests.

The article shows a photograph of Royal Caribbean's Voyager of the Seas looming over the beautiful canals and bridges of Venice.

Venice Italy - Cruise Ships

 

The mayor of Venice, Giorgio Orsoni, plans to meet the head of the city's port authority, Paolo Costa, this week to discuss the problem.  He is quoted stating that "the problem of these juggernauts of the sea needs to be confronted." 

There has been a significant increase in the number of cruise ships visiting Venice, from 200 in 2000 to 510 in 2007.   The newspaper reports that last year 1,600,000 tourists arrived in Venice by cruise ship

Mayor Orsoni suggested that cruise ships could be transferred to Porto Marghera, on the mainland, in order to minimize the environmental and aesthetic impact on Venice.

This is not the first time that a major newspaper has addressed this issue.  In May, the New York Times ran across an interesting article "Venice Tourist Ships Rattle Windows and Nerves" by Elisabetta Povoledo.

I visited Venice by backpack when I was in college and commented on my impression of the effects of the cruise industry on Venice over the past 35 year in my article Are Cruise Ships Ruining Venice Or Just Memories From My Youth?  You can see a couple of photos I took when I was in college and stayed in Venice for a few days. 

The photo below is from the New York Times article.

Venice - Cruise Ships   

 

Photo credit:

Top:  Alamy via the  Telegraph

Bottom:  Manuel Silvestri/Reuters

Are Cruise Ships Ruining Venice Or Just Memories From My Youth?

Last week  I was reading the New York Times on line when I ran across an interesting article "Venice Tourist Ships Rattle Windows and Nerves" by Elisabetta Povoledo. 

The article raises the question of the environmental impact of massive cruise ships sailing into the passenger terminal at the end of the Giudecca Canal, to unload over one and one-half million cruise Venice - Cruise Shipspassengers into Venice a year. 

I have warm memories of the first, and only, time that I visited Venice.  It was the summer of 1977, after my freshman year at college.  I originally traveled to Europe with my freshman roommate at Duke and two buddies from prep school.  After two weeks in Belgium and Holland, where we spent more time in the beer halls than in museums, we got on each other's nerves.  We strapped on our backpacks and went our separate ways. 

I had bought a $200 "Eurail pass" that let me hop on trains all over over Europe.  It even covered a couple of cruises (where we slept on the open decks) on old tubs from Brindisi, Italy to the island of Corfu and then on to Greece and back. 

Before I headed south, I spent a week in Venice by myself. 

I loved it. 

For $8 a night, I rented a single room in an Italian's family upstairs apartment.  I spent my  time visiting St. Mark's Cathedral, walking around the narrow winding streets, and eating incredible Italian ice cream.  I stopped at all of the little bridges over the canals which criss-crossed the city and leaned over the rails to watch couples and families ride on gondolas navigating below me.   

Venice - Cruise Ships PollutionI took a few photos (above and right) which have been in an old photo album for the last three decades.

I have lasting images and feelings from my experiences in Venice.   I felt at ease in this incredibly tranquil city, especially in the evenings when I would sit in the plazas drinking wine or espresso and wonder what my future would bring.          

Now 34 years later, I am looking at the photo (below) in the New York Times' article of a massive cruise ship looming over Venice.  What  a stark contrast to my fond memories of the quiet and quaint city with the gondola drivers pushing their poles along the little canals.  

Are those monster cruise ships really sailing by the Riva dei Sette Martiri, a quay near St. Mark’s Square? 

There seems something disrespectful about arriving in Venice aboard a cruise ship taller and wider than anything that could have been imagined when the city was built 500 years ago. 

What happened to the tranquility of the beautiful, delicately scaled maze of canals and plazas where the poets, artists and travelers inter-mingled in the uniqueness of this old city?  Are the mega cruise ships and their one and one-half million cruise tourists ruining the charm of Venice?  Has the world forever changed, leaving only the memories from my youth?      

September 30, 2016 Update: Forbes: Venice Is Fed Up With Cruise Ships And Angry Protesters Are Blocking Them 

August 2, 2017 Update: New York Times Venice, Invaded by Tourists, Risks Becoming ‘Disneyland on the Sea'

Venice - Cruise Ships

Photos top and middle:  Jim Walker

Photo bottom:  Manuel Silvestri / Reuters