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Larger cruise ships banned from Venetian Lagoon starting August

Larger cruise vessels were prohibited from entering the Venetian Lagoon on August 1
Italy is banning larger ships from Venice to protect waterways deemed of cultural value.

Historic Venice off-limits

The Council of Ministers on Tuesday issued an urgent decree banning ships over 25,000gt from passing through the San Marco Basin, the San Marco Canal and the Giudecca Canal from Aug. 1 to 'protect the environmental, artistic and cultural heritage of Venice, declared a World Heritage Site by UNESCO.’ 

Vessels impacted are those with a hull length at waterline exceeding 180 mtr; air draft over 35 mtr, with the exception of ships with mixed sail-engine propulsion; and fuel that produces polluting emissions, with sulfur content equal to or greater than 0.1%.

Compensation for cruise lines

The decree establishes compensation for cruise operators, companies holding contracts for the procurement of local activities and workers in navigation and logistics departments related to ship transits in urban waterways, among others.

An ad hoc fund has been set up in budget planning by the Ministry of Sustainable Infrastructure and Mobility.

Protection of waterways declared a national monument

On the proposal of the Council President Mario Draghi, Minister of Sustainable Infrastructure and Mobility Enrico Giovannini and Minister of Culture Dario Franceschini, and in agreement with  Minister of Tourism Massimo Garavaglia, the ban is included in a decree that contains provisions to ensure the integrity of waterways declared a national monument.

‘The intervention has become urgent, at least as regards the San Marco Basin and the Giudecca Canal, on the eve of the 44th session of the UNESCO World Heritage Committee, which will discuss, among other things, the state of conservation of ... the historic city of Venice and its lagoon,’ said Franceschini, who has publicly petitioned for the move.

‘The government wanted strongly to accelerate a decision already adopted — with the call for tenders for the construction of external landings — to avoid the real risk of the city being included in the list of endangered UNESCO World Heritage sites,’ he added. 

Seeking a long-term solution

As part of the decision, Giovannini indicated funding will be provided for an alternative, albeit temporary, landing solution in the lagoon in the Marghera port area, in advance of a long-term solution located outside of the lagoon.

To adapt the Marghera area to accommodate large ships, no more than five landing areas will be built at a cost of 157m. The president of the Port System Authority of the Northern Adriatic Sea has been appointed to oversee the design, assignment and execution of the works. ‘A competition for ideas, published on June 29 by the port system authority of the Northern Adriatic Sea will make it possible to identify the best structural solution for landings outside the lagoon,’ continued Giovannini, ‘to reconcile the needs for the protection of the heritage and the economic and social development of the entire area.’

No further details have been provided on the dedicated cruise landings in the Marghera port area, but Giovannini asserted that ‘the first landings will be made in Marghera from next year.’

The Port System Authority of the Northern Adriatic Sea has already identified at least one potential temporary site, with preparations underway for its completion in 2022. No plans have been announced for immediate solutions from until then.

Potential alternatives

Nearby ports that could provide alternatives for cruise lines operating larger vessels include Trieste and Ravenna.

An international tender for ideas on a long-term solution was launched months ago.