Venice: Update on Cruise Ship Restrictions

In Venice, the VTP has appealed the ruling limiting cruise traffic to an administrative court.

According to Roberto Perocchio, managing director, VTP, the ruling is in conflict with a previous ruling by the ministries of the environment and transportation, which stated that cruise traffic restrictions for the channel past the San Marco Square can only enter into force once an alternative channel has been completed.

The Contorta-Sant'Angelo channel is slated to be dredged and expanded so the biggest cruise ships can continue to call at the cruise terminals without sailing through the center of Venice. Perocchio said the project has been finalized and urgency efforts are underway, which will allow it to be fast-tracked and completed for the 2016 season.

The channel is four kilometers long.

The recent ruling called for a 20 percent reduction in calls by passenger vessels over 40,000 tons. However, by moving the ferry traffic to Marghera, cruise ship traffic will only see a 12.5 percent reduction in 2014, Perocchio said.

This means that only 19 calls had to be cancelled of which nine were cancelled by MSC Cruises, coinciding with a refurbishment project. Thus, no turnarounds have been cancelled, only a small number of transit calls, mostly by Pullmantur and Thomson.

The ruling also bans ships over 96,000 tons to sail through Venice from Nov. 2014. However, this has since been postponed to January 1, 2015.

Perocchio suggested the limitation has been imposed arbitrarily and has an emotional component linked to the Concordia accident. He said there is no technical reason for the restrictions as Venice can accept ships up to 340 meters in length and well above 96,000 tons.

As for the MOSE water barriers being installed, Perocchio said they will be operational in 2018 and only at very high tide, which usually occurs from December to February, a period during which Venice has very little cruise traffic.

For now, VTP hopes for an extension of the restrictions until the new channel is ready, after which the big ships will enter the port from the west and only ships less than 40,000 tons will be able to sail in through channel past San Marco.

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