Venice’s decision to gradually ban large cruise ships from entering the crowded grand canal through its historic city center is a move travel agents would have liked to see made a long time ago.
This was the consensus of the Italy travel experts TravelPulse chatted with on Friday morning in the aftermath of Venice’s announcement to slowly ban ships from the heavily-populated tourism area just months after a cruise liner smashed into a riverboat and dock, and a week after city officials asked other European cruise destinations to join in its effort to curb cruise ship visits.
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“My first thoughts when seeing that were, ‘it’s about time,’ and really a no-brainer since there are ports not too far away that will not impact the city so badly,” said Stef Katz, owner of The Travel Superhero in Lake Mary, Florida.
Steve Zellers, owner of Zellers Elite Travel Services in Orlando, supports the decision mainly because it will bring back some of the charm that he felt Venice lost due to the larger ships.
“I think the situation with the large ships docking in Venice has been an ongoing problem and something was bound to happen sooner or later,” said Zellers. “Having the large ships dock there takes away the uniqueness that makes Venice, Venice.”
The Italian government announced that it will begin to gradually reroute the ships away from the city center starting next month.
“In as much as I want my clients to go to Venice, I agree with the ban,” said Terry Bahri, owner and CEO of TerryB Luxury Travel in Los Angeles. “The large ships damage the fragile foundations of the city and they are so awful to see in the beautiful skyline. Many of the cities are losing their sense of place due to overcrowding and overtourism.”
By next year, at least one-third of the ships visiting Venice are expected to call at ports closer to the Italian mainland, but still inside the lagoon, including the Fusina and Lombardia terminals.
“Venice is an extremely beautiful city, with cobblestone paths and beautiful skies,” said Paul Stroncek, owner of Final Destination Cruises & Resorts in Fort Lauderdale, Florida. “If suitcases rolling on the paths irked the locals with annoying skips and hops of the wheels, while their infrastructure is unable to accommodate, we must appreciate the residents’ perseverance to protect their homeland.”
Italy’s minister of transport Danilo Toninelli said the ultimate goal was “to avoid witnessing more invasions of the Giudecca by these floating palaces, with the scandals and risks that they bring,” via the Financial Times.
“There’s justification in all senses: protect the city’s infrastructure, reduce noise pollution, and preserve views of the skyline,” said Stroncek.
But Monica Millin, an advisor with Travel Professionals International in Vancouver, Canada, is still skeptical that the ban will ultimately take place.
“Unfortunately, the Italian bureaucracy will kill Venice,” said Millin. “The banning of the cruise ships is just a proposal. We all know how long things take to get done in Italy.”