A strength debate has been concluded in Rome on Thursday, by the Italian Government itself. From November 2014, in exactly one year, the vessels overhauling 96,000 tons will not be able to sail on the Canale della Guidecca while transiting between the cruise terminal and the Adriatic Sea. Quotas are expected for the vessels with a weight of 40,000 tons or more.
This decision was hoped from a while by the environmental organisms which work for saving the Lagoon City. The two passes making the link between Venice and the Adriatic will be fitted in a few with a protecting system against the impressive floods occurring regularly in the area, and on the future against the global rising sea : nowadays, the transit of huge cruise units near the St-Mark's Square is said not more acceptable.
However, it is an old cruise tradition which is in question here. As a maritime and very touristic city, Venice is attracting cruise ships forever. These berth in a special place : along the west city, in vicinity of the Santa-Lucia station and at the end of the Canale della Guidecca. It was still a perfect situation on 1997, when the cruise terminal has been refitted and expanded to welcome 300 (or more) meters long ships. During arriving and departing, the guests get a superb overview on the whole city. This is particularly interesting for headend operations : the passengers must only leave the station to find their ship (and vice-versa). Even if they do not have enough time to walk in the city, the maritime transit offers them a nice panorama. Finally, on 2012, the port received about two millions passengers, what makes it the first Adriatic cruise port and one of the main Mediterranean ports (with Barcelona and Civitavecchia). Three, four, five cruise ships are often calling together, and leave one after one each evening.
But the cruise industry lost its perfect image by the general public. The loss of Costa Concordia is always a very important memory of everybody, particularly in Italy. We can remark that the new rules announced aim at first the large units : a 96,000 tons ship is sized as MSC Magnifica and a 40,000 tons ships is a bit larger than Fred Olsen's Balmoral (see below). In Europe, several documents are broadcast by the main medias (including the French TV) and denounce with more or less violence the danger of large ships on the lagoon. This menace, both atmospheric and maritime, is well-controlled by the many rules already in usage, which make the cruise vessels to be the least polluting ships of the global merchant fleet. Despite that, the risk is increasing more and more, because of the cruise development and of the arrival of always larger ships. If Royal Caribbean, as everybody expect id, send to Europe one of the Oasis-class vessels, it is sure that this last would make several stops in Venice - despite its 220,000 tons.
For the moment, the cruise berths place are not in question : the cruise ships will just have to follow the channel initially devoted to freight ships, which goes away from Venice and leaves the lagoon by the south entrance. This means a longer transit without the interest to cross Venice, but it may be the best compromise between the tourism operations and the ecological needs (it could inspire other area whose ecosystem is frail). Venice will definitely not be the only city not accessible to large ships : however, it is the first to renounce after having welcome loads of they. The first step toward a more reasonable and ecological cruise berthing industry.