With the Saga of Venice Continuing, Stakes are the Future of Cruise Ships

Giovanni Dall'Orto photo

Much is written and spoken about the controversy of cruise ships in Venice. In case you're wondering why it's such a big deal, there are three ports at the heart of European cruising and one of them is Venice…the others would be Southampton and Barcelona. Many Mediterranean cruises touch two of the three and, while there's no official count that we've seen, it's conceivable they are 1-2-3 of port stops of Europe. Think of it as the Miami, Fort Lauderdale and New York on this side of the pond.

Get the picture?

So Venice is in cruise-ship turmoil, because one faction doesn't want them at all and another thinks they are critical to Venice tourism. Last week, the "antis" staged a protest on Venice's busiest day for cruise ships (12 of them) by jumping in the water of the Guidecca Canal and generally tying up traffic for over an hour. The "pros" responded by trying to find a way to appease the "antis."

Along the way, there were many conflicting viewpoints.

In response to the protest, the pros claim the antis' claims of environmental impact are false, or at least exaggerated. They deny that cruise ships cause erosion yet they are working to find alternative and appropriate routes into St. Marks Squarethe city, and say that sulphur emissions have already been minimized. They claim that one-third of the hotel industry is dependent on cruise passengers, and that one in six shops and 5,000 families survive because of it.

The antis, or the other side, have argued at various times about how cruise ships make Venice waters unsafe and a candidate for another Concordia, how the ships must go as far away as possible as soon as possible, and how the city is crushed by tourists who "disembark, buy a souvenir and leave."

We've been to Venice twice. There is no city on earth like it. Nobody wants to see it undermined by erosion or unsafe conditions. Sailing into Venice on a cruise ship is a unique experience that every cruiser should enjoy. It seems the pros want to find a solution. The antis don't seem to think there is one and sometimes show an astounding lack of credibility.

Take the shot about "buy a souvenir." We don't buy a lot of souvenirs any more. Yet because we cruised into Venice, we used the water taxis, stayed three nights in a hotel, visited Murano where all that glass is made, rented a car for nine days to drive around Italy, rode a train along the Cinque Terre and stayed in half a dozen hotels.

Does it really matter if we bought only one souvenir?

Celebrity Millennium
14 nights
May 10, 2014
Tokyo, Aomori, Sapporo, Petropavlovsk, Vancouver
Inside: $799
Cost per day: $57
www.celebritycruises.com

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