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Big cruise ships may say goodbye to the classic Venice sail-away: Here's why

April 02, 2021
3 min read
Big cruise ships may say goodbye to the classic Venice sail-away: Here's why
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If you love the idea of sailing the Guidecca Canal, past St. Mark's Square, to dock in Venice, you may need to adjust your expectations. In the decade-long debate over whether Venice should "ban" large cruise ships from its historic city center, the issue once again bubbled to the surface in Italy. The issue at hand: what type of cruise ships can dock at Venice's Marittima.

If the measure is put into place, large cruise ships would need to dock elsewhere in Venice Lagoon and approach the city via a different route -- possibly eliminating that gorgeous sail-by of Piazza San Marco.

However, all is not lost for those that want the quintessential "old world" experience. Simply look to smaller ships, such as those operated by Silversea or the soon-to-launch Ritz-Carlton Yacht Collection. Due to their smaller size, they'll still find a home at Marittima.

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Cruise ships in recent years have become the poster child for overcrowding in Venice, despite only accounting for a small percentage of the more than 25 million tourists that visit the city each year. In recent years, there have been fewer than 2 million cruise passenger movements in Venice a year, and the number has been on the decline, according to the cruise industry's main trade group, the Cruise Lines International Association.

In 2013, the Italian government banned vessels of more than 96,000 gross tons from crossing the Giudecca Canal, a major artery connecting the city’s network of waterways to Piazza San Marco (St. Mark’s Square). But the ruling was overturned. A similar initiative in 2017 also failed.

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The most recent ruling bans vessels of more than 40,000 tons. Ships will instead dock in Marghera, a mainland industrial port located 15 minutes by car from the historic center. The solution is temporary, while officials figure out a long-term plan to create an alternate route.

The more than 25 million tourists per year that visit Venice are a heavy burden on its 14th-century buildings, which are built on shallow and unstable mudbanks.

Modern cruise ships traversing the Guidecca Canal tower over the buildings. They have been involved in several accidents in recent years and, critics say, cause erosion of the city's fragile foundations.

On March 25, Italy’s minister of ecological transition Roberto Cingolani; minister of culture Dario Franceschini; minister of tourism Massimo Garavaglia; and minister of sustainable infrastructures and mobility Enrico Giovannini came together to make a public statement to “protect a historical cultural heritage not only of Italy but of the whole world.”

It’s unclear whether the latest plan will work or what will make this time different, but it's a move many — including members of the cruise industry — support.

“We welcome the announcement regarding access routes to Venice as we have consistently advocated moving large ships away from the Giudecca canal," Ukko Metsola, director general of CLIA Europe said in a statement sent to TPG. "We recognize that agreeing and implementing new access routes into Venice is a long-term project and will require the adoption of legislative measures. We note therefore that there will be temporary measures required during an interim period. We will continue to work in close collaboration with the Italian authorities and relevant stakeholders as these recommendations are developed into concrete policy actions.”

Featured image by Getty Images
Editorial disclaimer: Opinions expressed here are the author’s alone, not those of any bank, credit card issuer, airline or hotel chain, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any of these entities.

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Best for the well-traveled foodie
TPG Editor‘s Rating
Card Rating is based on the opinion of TPG‘s editors and is not influenced by the card issuer.
4 / 5
Go to review

Rewards Rate

4XEarn 4X Membership Rewards® Points at Restaurants, plus takeout and delivery in the U.S.
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    Earn 60,000 Membership Rewards® points after you spend $4,000 on eligible purchases with your new Card within the first 6 months of Card Membership.

    60,000 bonus points
  • Annual Fee

    $250
  • Recommended Credit
    Credit ranges are a variation of FICO© Score 8, one of many types of credit scores lenders may use when considering your credit card application.

    670-850
    Excellent/Good

Why We Chose It

There's a lot to love about the Amex Gold card. It's been a fan favorite during the pandemic because of its fantastic rewards rate on restaurants (that includes takeout and delivery in the U.S.!) and U.S. supermarkets. If you're hitting the skies soon, you'll also earn bonus points on travel. Paired with up to $120 in Uber Cash (for U.S. Uber rides or Uber Eats orders) and up to $120 in annual dining statement credits at eligible partners, there's no reason that the foodie shouldn't add this card to their wallet. Enrollment required.

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  • Not as useful for those living outside the U.S.
  • Some may have trouble using Uber/food credits
  • Few travel perks and protections
  • Earn 60,000 Membership Rewards® points after you spend $4,000 on eligible purchases with your new Card within the first 6 months of Card Membership.
  • Earn 4X Membership Rewards® Points at Restaurants, plus takeout and delivery in the U.S., and earn 4X Membership Rewards® points at U.S. supermarkets (on up to $25,000 per calendar year in purchases, then 1X).
  • Earn 3X Membership Rewards® points on flights booked directly with airlines or on amextravel.com.
  • $120 Uber Cash on Gold: Add your Gold Card to your Uber account and each month automatically get $10 in Uber Cash for Uber Eats orders or Uber rides in the U.S., totaling up to $120 per year.
  • $120 Dining Credit: Satisfy your cravings and earn up to $10 in statement credits monthly when you pay with the American Express® Gold Card at Grubhub, The Cheesecake Factory, Goldbelly, Wine.com, Milk Bar and select Shake Shack locations. Enrollment required.
  • Choose the color that suits your style. Gold or Rose Gold.
  • No Foreign Transaction Fees.
  • Annual Fee is $250.
  • Terms Apply.
  • See Rates & Fees