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

Apr 2, 2021

This post contains references to products from one or more of our advertisers. We may receive compensation when you click on links to those products. Terms apply to the offers listed on this page. For an explanation of our Advertising Policy, visit this page.

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.

For more TPG news delivered each morning to your inbox, sign up for our free daily newsletter.

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.

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 photo by Reed Kaestner/Getty Images

Delta SkyMiles® Platinum American Express Card

Earn 90,000 bonus miles and 10,000 Medallion® Qualification Miles (MQMs) after you spend $3,000 in purchases on your new card in the first three months of card membership. Offer ends 11/10/2021.

With Status Boost™, earn 10,000 Medallion Qualification Miles (MQMs) after you spend $25,000 in purchases on your Card in a calendar year, up to two times per year getting you closer to Medallion Status. Earn 3X Miles on Delta purchases and purchases made directly with hotels, 2X Miles at restaurants and at U.S. supermarkets and earn 1X Mile on all other eligible purchases. Terms Apply.

Apply Now
More Things to Know
  • Limited Time Offer: Earn 90,000 Bonus Miles and 10,000 Medallion® Qualification Miles (MQMs) after you spend $3,000 in purchases on your new Card in your first 3 months. Offer expires 11/10/2021.
  • Earn up to 20,000 Medallion® Qualification Miles (MQMs) with Status Boost® per year. After you spend $25,000 in purchases on your Card in a calendar year, you can earn 10,000 MQMs two times per year, getting you closer to Medallion® Status. MQMs are used to determine Medallion® Status and are different than miles you earn toward flights.
  • Earn 3X Miles on Delta purchases and purchases made directly with hotels.
  • Earn 2X Miles at restaurants worldwide, including takeout and delivery and at U.S. supermarkets.
  • Earn 1X Miles on all other eligible purchases.
  • Receive a Domestic Main Cabin round-trip companion certificate each year upon renewal of your Card. *Payment of the government imposed taxes and fees of no more than $75 for roundtrip domestic flights (for itineraries with up to four flight segments) is required. Baggage charges and other restrictions apply. See terms and conditions for details.
  • Enjoy your first checked bag free on Delta flights.
  • Fee Credit for Global Entry or TSA Pre✓®.
  • Enjoy an exclusive rate of $39 per person per visit to enter the Delta Sky Club® for you and up to two guests when traveling on a Delta flight.
  • No Foreign Transaction Fees.
  • $250 Annual Fee.
  • Terms Apply.
  • See Rates & Fees
Regular APR
15.74%-24.74% Variable
Annual Fee
Balance Transfer Fee
Recommended Credit
Terms and restrictions apply. See rates & fees.

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

Disclaimer: The responses below are not provided or commissioned by the bank advertiser. Responses have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by the bank advertiser. It is not the bank advertiser’s responsibility to ensure all posts and/or questions are answered.