The Veneto Region Administrative Tribunal has overturned an Italian Coast Guard ruling to limit or ban cruise ships over a certain size from sailing through Venice’s Giudecca Channel and past St Mark’s Square to reach the city’s cruise terminal.
Previously enforced in 2013 and overturned by the Veneto Regional Administrative Tribunal in March 2014, the cruise ship restrictions were reinstated by the Italian government in August 2014.
The inter-ministerial decree planned to prohibit cruise ships greater than 96,000gt from sailing through the Giudecca Canal and St Mark’s basin after January 2015. The restrictions also aimed to achieve an annual 20% reduction in the number of ships weighing more than 40,000gt sailing in the same waters.
Despite last year’s campaigns by locals and environmentalists who alleged that the exhaust fumes and vibrations created by cruise ships were damaging to Venice, the ban was lifted on 9 January following appeals by the Venice Passenger Terminal, the manager of Venice’s cruise terminals, and other interested parties.
However, as the Cruise Lines International Association cruise members have been voluntarily complying with these restrictions, it is unlikely that the decision will have an immediate impact on large ship transits in the area.
The ruling has made the government’s work to find an alternative route for reaching Venice’s cruise terminal more urgent.
Cruise operators and authorities are still waiting for the completion of the delayed Contorta-Sant’Angelo Channel excavation project, which would provide an alternative and safer route for cruise ships to reach the city’s Stazione Marittima cruise terminals. This has been identified as the only viable option to mitigate environmental concerns, while enabling Venice to maintain its position as a national and international cruise hub and safeguard the economic benefits generated by the cruise industry. A decision is likely to be reached in March.