I did a post earlier this week on how the proposed restriction on the largest ships sailing into Venice – those over 96000 tons – was being reinstated after being suspended by a regional court. That post elicited a long and well-argued comment from a reader. I was going to just approve it as a comment, but then I felt that it was worth highlighting in a post of its own. So here, with her agreement, is the comment from Lizzie Salthouse who is a resident of Venice:
An interesting post, thanks but I would like to offer the other side to the argument if I may.
The Concordia disaster is only one factor in the opposition to cruise ships within the lagoon which has been going on for years. And its not so much the risk of a cruise ship crashing into an underwater reef (and you’re right, there aren’t any in Venice), its more that the implications of an accident, whatever the cause, in the UNESCO heritage city of Venice would be catastrophic not just for the city and its environment but also for the tourist trade on which it relies. Its worth noting that UNESCO is reportedly against cruise ships within the lagoon.
- Other factors include the damage done by waves created by the big ships (which are getting bigger every year) which damage the lagoon shorefronts and stone buildings,
- sediment displacement which damages the sea floor,
- increased flooding risk to the historic city caused by deepening the canals to allow cruise ships into the lagoon
- environmental damage via pollution & greenhouse gas emissions
- ecosystem destruction to make way for the cruise ships (assuming the proposed new route goes ahead it will destroy mud flats currently used by wading birds & other coastal flora and fauna)
- alleged political corruption
Plus if you’ve ever spent any time in Venice you will have seen the behemoth cruise ships towering over the tiny Venetian houses along the Giudecca as the ships tip toe along a canal that is a key transport route for local boats. Some of the large ships are 3 times the height of the buildings, many of which are of international importance.
Cruise ships do not have the inviolable right to sail past St Marks and need to take responsibility for the risk they pose and the damage that they’re doing to the very city they’re coming to see. Tourists themselves also have a responsibility not to damage or degrade the places they visit and ensure that the transport methods and tour companies that they use are not exploiting their hosts or the environment. Cruise ships regularly dock at other cities via out of town ports and transport passengers into town by coach ( or in this case, boat ). This would offer a safe solution and would also create jobs for the Venice economy.
For more information watch this video – “Big Cruise Ships – whats at stake”, or take a look at Comitato Nograndinavi’s Facebook page which offers much more detail in Italian and English.
Note : Also I’m not sure that the alternative route suggested is really the answer but we’ll have to wait for the review report later this year.
Thanks to Lizzie for taking the time to write so eloquently. She has her own blog, dreamdiscoveritalia. Lots of interesting content, if (like me) you love Italy.