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The Venice Cruise Controversy

Venice-Wolfgang MoroderOne of the cruise stories that just refuses to go away is Venice. Here’s a recent headline from The Daily Telegraph, in London:

“Giant cruise ships ‘crushing the life out of Venice.’”

This is a story that’s been going on for years, and there’s no end in sight. What it boils down to is this: Cruise ships that dwarf some of the waterways of Venice, notably the Guidecca Canal, are being blamed for erosion that environmentalists claim will destroy this jewel of Italy. Business interests, including the most recently elected mayor of Venice, argue that tourism is vital to the city’s economy and cruise ships (probably) deliver more tourists (and jobs) than any other mode of transportation.

One side says “the city will die” if it continues. The other side says it must continue and Venice will never die.

What triggered the most recent headline is a photo exhibition — 30 images of cruise ships that make St. Mark’s Square look like a local playground…and they do. The images are on display until January 6th in, of course, St. Mark’s Square.

A little history…

In 2013, the port of Venice banned large cruise ships — 2,200 passengers or more. The ban was overturned by a regional tribunal. In 2014, the Italian government stepped in and restored the ban, to take effect in 2015. Twelve days into the year, Venice’s regional court of appeal overturned the ban.

Clearly, Italians can’t make up their minds, so here’s a novel idea for them.

Have a referendum. Limit votes to the people of Venice, the ones affected by the death/life of their city. Yes or no. Let the people speak. Let the decision be in their hands, not the politicians in northern Italy or down south in Rome. 

Give them the facts, give them the propaganda, give them the pros and the cons…and let them decide. 

Once and for all.

– Photo by Wolfgang Moroder

In the news…

• Royal Caribbean orders Quantum Class ship No. 5 to arrive in 2020
• Rough seas, high winds delay Nieuw Amsterdam by a day in Barcelona

Today at portsandbows.com: Crystal cruising into river market

Norwegian Jade
7 nights
January 2, 2016
Houston (return): Cozumel, Belize, Roatan
Inside: $469
Cost per day: $67

Eighth Cruise Wonder, Anyone?

A writer for Conde Nast Traveler, Ondine Cohane, has produced the “Seven Cruise Wonders of the World.” It’s a clever idea and, like all such lists, highly subjective.

Picking up on it, Princess Cruises now has a contest for cruisers to add No. 8. The top prize is to sail away to one of the wonders (the eighth?) on a Princess ship.

What would your pick be?

Before deciding, here is Ms Cohane’s criteria for what qualifies as a cruise wonder, followed by her list of seven:

“The particular sense of arrival when approaching them by ship, the experience of anticipation and excitement when closing in on each treasure, and the sense of discovery that only an arrival by ship can really create.”

1. Fiordland National Park, New Zealand
2. Panama Canal
3. Shiretoko Peninsula, Japan
4. Glacier Bay National Park, Alaska
5. Christ the Redeemer (statue), Brazil
6. Trunk Bay, St. John, Virgin Islands
7. Hagia Sophia, Istanbul

So, about Number Eight?

Obviously, you draw on your experiences from cruising, not from pictures, We’ve seen two of her wonders (Glacier Bay, Panama Canal) and wouldn’t object to their inclusions. Using her criteria and our experiences, three candidates come to mind for the eighth wonder…

VancouverVancouver: Approaching the Lions Gate Bridge and sailing under it, both times in early morning as the sun crested over the North Shore Mountains.

Venice: As beautiful and intriguing an arrival by ship as we’ve ever seen, and the city lives up to the anticipation.

New York: Crossing under the Verrazano Bridge to be faced with the Statue of Liberty, that icon of freedom.

Over to you…

In the news…

• Royal Caribbean pushing 30 per cent discounts on all cruise ships
• First LGBT cruise line, Anteros, to announce itineraries in April 2016
• SplashGolf in interactive water environment installed on Norwegian Epic

Today at portsandbows.com: Day by day on Fathom's Cuba cruise

Royal Caribbean Liberty of the Seas
7 nights
December 13, 2015
Galveston (return): Falmouth, Grand Cayman, Cozumel
Inside: $512
Cost per day: $73

‘Wheels Up’ The War Cry In Venice

Okay, Venice, do you want it like this…or like this? Do you want lots of tourists and all their trappings, which by the way includes some wear and tear on your environment…or do you want more protection and fewer tourists, dollars and — by extension — jobs?

That’s what “no wheeled suitcases” is going to mean.

Starting in May, just in time for the next Mediterranean cruise season, tourists who use baggage with “hard” wheels will be fined more than $600. Baggage with “inflatable” wheels will be okay, so now tourists will need to carry mini-pumps in their suitcases, or spare tires.

This comes on the heels of decision to ban cruise ships bigger than 96,000 gross tonnes from the lagoon in Venice, which ranks high in port popularity among cruisers. Cruise ships St. Mark'sare not the only carriers of Venice’s 20 million or so tourists every year, but their frequency in the city of canals make them a major contributor…and the ban is an attempt to have them use a part of the environment that's less fragile than the lagoon That argument makes a little more sense than the suitcase one. 

Think about the hard-wheeled luggage ban. 

Most tourist couples will have four pieces of luggage. Since there are no cars on the streets of Venice, that means struggling along the cobblestone surfaces, up and over the many bridges, the way we used to before somebody invented wheels for suitcases. Or it means hiring a local to transport your bags every step of the way, a risky way to balance jobs lost by having fewer tourists. 

This is to prevent deterioration of the cobblestones and the bridges, but only the deterioration caused by tourists — the new law won’t apply to locals.

Oh yes, and there’s another reason for the ban on wheeled suitcases. Noise pollution. An Italian newspaper reported that residents and shopkeepers alike were suffering “serious discomfort” from the constant clatter of wheeled luggage.

The way Venice is going, they may have to worry about another “noise.”

The silence could be deafening..

Today at portsandbows.com: Sir Richard Branson's cruise plans

Carnival Ecstasy
4 nights
September 14, 2015
Miami (return): Key WestCozumel 
Inside: $179
Cost per day: $44

When Fear Reaches Cruise Ports 

It’s a toss-up where the most feared four-letter word in the world these days is “ISIS” or “ebola.” Both strike fear in the hearts of just about everybody, and both have ominous potential to get worse.

While both are having an effect on cruising, it’s not a big one.


There are no cruise ships going to Syria or Iraq, but you can be sure the security will become even more intense on all cruise ships, which can be targeted by militants just the way airplanes are.

The “other” threat, ebola, has moved four cruise lines — Holland America, Fred.Olsen, Seabourn and Regent Seven Seas — to change port calls scheduled for Senegal, which borders on the part of West Africa stricken with the disease.

But think about this:

What happens if the spread of ebola reaches (or erupts) in Southampton? Or Venice? Or Miami? Will travelers stay away from cities where ebola is present, or regions where terrorists attempt a strike?

Today at portsandbows.com: The latest in cruise news

Celebrity Summit
7 nights
March 28, 2015
San Juan (return): St. Croix, St. Kitts, Roseau, Grenada, St. Thomas
Inside: $549
Cost per day: $78

The Ebb And Flow Of Cruising Venetian Waters


If you've been reading this blog for a while, then you've been reading about Venice, one of the most beautiful and inspirational ports we've ever visited. 

How big cruise ships were causing erosion of the precious little soil there is in the city of canals. 

How protesters have taken to the airwaves and the courts and even the water to keep the big ships out. 

How later this year the ships will become persona non grata (also banished) from the canal that is bordered by St. Mark's Square.

Check this:

"Giant cruise ships are set to return to Venice’s historic waterways, just months after they were banned."

This is not an April Fool's Joke.

That story, in London's Daily Mail, reports that the administrative court of Venice accepted an appeal by lobbyists and suspended the ban "because of the absence of any practical alternative navigation routes."


They need a court to tell them there was no alternative water route into and out of "downtown" Venice for large ships but by the Giudecca Canal? In the end, like so many other things, this decision is all about money. The port, which charges cruise lines huge fees, convinced the court that the ban would cost Venice too many euros.

Somewhere down the road, a compromise is likely to be found but since it couldn't happen in time to keep the ships, it's for another day…another year.

Meanwhile, the protesters will continue to be vocal in shouting: "Viva Venezia!"

Today at portsandbows.com: Celebrity's seasonal split a shift

Holland America Eurodam
12 nights
April 29, 2014
Inside: $999
Cost per day: $83

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