NCL Cruise VeniceYesterday, as I flipped through my feed on tweetdeck, I noticed an idyllic image (left) of Venice. The stock photo show a few small boats and gondolas on the Grand Canal, with the text:

Cruise to Venice. It’s a place where people float down man-made waterways or stroll down picturesque alleyways. There’s no more extraordinary place to find yourself, or lose yourself. Stay in Venice before your next Mediterranean cruise!

The photo is linked to NCL’s efforts to market cruises to or from Venice. You can see the same image on NCL’s website.

The last time I wrote about Venice and NCL it involved George Clooney’s romantic wedding procession in Venice, Italy which was disrupted when the 93,000-ton, 2,400-passenger Norwegian NCL Norwegian Jade VeniceJade cruised by on the Giudecca Canal. NCL cluelessly congratulated Mr. Clooney on twitter after crashing his party.

Putting movie stars and celebrities aside, the reality of Venice is now the sight of huge cruise ships operated by NCL and other Miami-based cruise lines towering over the city and downloading hordes of day visitors buying trinkets.  Many of the hundreds of cruise ships coming to Venice each year are over 1,000 feet long, displace 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.

This is an issue which I have written about for the past decade.

Will the Juggernauts of the Seas Ruin Venice?

Photo credit: @NCL_eu; Norwegian Cruise Line via Travel Pulse; Getty Images via Mail Online / Monster Cruise Ships Menace Venice.

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NCL Cruises Venice

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. 

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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 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  

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

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.

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 

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.

 

//www.youtube.com/embed/7xIp6WsdvNY?rel=0

Photo Credit: Pazzoperilmare Blog 

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."  

 

http://www.youreporter.it/player/ext/video.phtml?vkey=5a27abefcfd7095d304eb2f14b1a1b3c

 

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

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 . . .