Venice squeezes cruise ships; Port calls subject to change

(1:40 p.m. EDT) – The intermittent relationship between Venice and the cruise industry has been going on for years, although this time around it looks like the two are headed for divorce.

The Venetians, long opposed to cruise ships sailing the city’s iconic lagoon, got their wish on August 1, when the Italian government again banned large cruise ships from passing through the region.

Unlike previous bans which were announced with great fanfare by the Italian government only to be quietly dropped later, this one seems to hold up. UNESCO had warned that it was on the verge of placing the historic city on water on its list of endangered heritage cities rather than its tourism policies.

Venice was added to the list of UNESCO World Heritage Sites in 1987.

For cruise passengers traveling on large ships, the new ban means ships will be banned from calling directly in Venice. They will no longer be able to dock at the Venice cruise terminal and will instead have to dock in industrial ports like Marghera.

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Marghera, however, cannot accommodate all the ships scheduled for Venice. Last year, Royal Caribbean Cruises announced that it would begin deploying Rhapsody of the Seas from Ravenna, Italy, about 143 kilometers south, instead of calling in Venice.

A spokesperson for Royal Caribbean confirmed to Cruise Critic in an email that it will continue to use Ravenna as a port of recovery.

Cruise lines are slowly starting to let customers know about changes to their itineraries. The move means cruise passengers will have to think about transportation options, as Venice is still the main airport in the region.

Cruise Critic members who booked cruises aboard Azamara Quest this fall saw their port of embarkation change from Venice to Trieste, about a two-hour drive away.

“Hopefully this would not be the case, but our embarkation port has been changed to Trieste”, writing laurieb. “Boarding the Quest on October 19; the cruise before us was also changed. “

“I checked Trenitalia.com regarding times and prices,” wrote Dr H. “At best, Trieste is a 2 hour journey to Santa Lucia, and often up to 3 hours, and costs around 20 euros round trip in 2nd class.”

“For those who have experienced Venice several times, Trieste is an interesting new port”, writes Mrs. Miggins. “We visited several years ago. The Miramare was lovely. Wonderful main square overlooking the sea.”

The ban does not apply to river cruise ships in Venice. Uniworld has an itinerary on its new ship La Venezia which spends several days in Venice before traveling to the Po.

Cruise Critic has contacted multiple lines for comment and will update this story with more information as it becomes available.

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