Italy government

Italian government seeks alternative cruise berths in Venice

The vote took place on a proposal by President Mario Draghi; Enrico Giovannini, Minister for Sustainable Infrastructure and Mobility and Minister for Culture Dario Franceschini following their call to temporarily divert large cruise ships from Venice to Marghera during a meeting on March 25.

The decision was tweeted by Franceschini, who said it would respond to a request from UNESCO.

A fair decision, awaited for years: the [Italian] The Council of Ministers approves a decree-law which establishes that the final landing places of large ships in Venice must be planned and carried out outside the lagoon, as requested by UNESCO,” Franceschini tweeted last night.

The approved decree law calls for “urgent provisions for the regulation of cruise and container ship traffic” in the lagoon.

The government said: “In order to reconcile the needs for the protection of the artistic, cultural and environmental heritage of Venice with those related to cruise activities and freight traffic, the decree allows the Port Authority of the North Adriatic Sea, to request the submission of technical and economic feasibility studies aimed at collecting proposals and projects for the construction of berths for cruise ships over 40,000 GT.’

According to a press release published by Giovannini, the launch of ideas and solutions will take place within 60 days of the entry into force of the decree-law.

CLIA welcomes move

Francesco Galietti, CLIA director for Italy, said Thursday evening that the cruise lines welcomed the government decree, “because we have always supported the plans to decongest traffic from Venice and withdraw large ships from the Canal de la Giudecca”.

Support to port authorities

Cinzia Zincone, extraordinary commissioner of the Port Authority of the North Adriatic Sea (AdSP MAS) said that she guaranteed the collaboration in the launch of the call for proposals for technical and economic feasibility and projects for the creation of mooring outside the lagoon.

“The decree, in its practical definition, must represent an expected step towards a shared solution, also with the Port Authority of Venice, the Veneto Region and the Metro of the City of Venice, and a definitive solution for the routing of ships cruising in Venice.”

She added: “It is clear that the proposals will have to meet strict criteria of safety, environmental compatibility and safeguarding the essence of Venice as a cruise home port, an essential element to give certainty to the market. cruises and guarantee the economy and employment. relevance of the sector for the city and the territory.

Regarding the temporary solutions, in the short and medium term, Zincone said “we are clear that these solutions cannot compromise the commercial and industrial activity of the port of Marghera but must rather, as much as possible, aim the recovery – environmental, productivity and employment – of currently disused surfaces.

Solutions sought for years

Discussions about different routes to reach the Stazione Maritima cruise terminals have been ongoing for eight years.

A fAfter the Costa Concordia disaster, the Italian Clini-Passera decree prohibited a percentage of ships over 40,000 gt of using the Giudecca Canal in January 2014.

This was later changed for vessels over 96,000gt, then canceled in 2015 following an appeal from the Venice Passenger Terminal and other parties, due to a lack of access alternatives to waterways.

CLIA voluntarily maintained at 96,000 gt limit

However, members of the Cruise Lines International Association voluntarily maintained the 96,000 gt limit and also began using low sulfur fuel in the Venice Lagoon pending a new policy.

Meanwhile, cruise ships under 96,000gt have passed through St. Mark’s Square to reach the port, although the last cruise ship to pass through St. Mark’s Square was in November 2019 due to the temporary shutdown of global cruise operations since last spring.

Larger ships entering Venice must pass through the Malamocco-Marhera Canal and dock at the industrial port of Marghera with passengers and baggage transferred to Stazione Marittima by rail or road.

Strategy planned in two phases

In December 2020, a ministerial meeting agreed on a two-phase strategy to safeguard Venice’s future. The first phase envisaged a temporary solution (short-medium term) with larger cruise ships docking at commercial terminals in the port area of ​​Marghera (to be followed by a dedicated albeit still temporary cruise landing being prepared and to be ready for 2022), and the second phase of a structural and definitive solution centered on the launch of the ideas competition for an out-of-lagoon solution.

The plan was first to reach Marghera and from there Stazione Marritima by dredging the Contorta Sant’Angelo canal which was later switched to the Vittorio Emanuele canal, but since none of the solutions came off the drawing board, the large cruise ships must dock in Marghera.

Meanwhile, last February, the Port Authority of the North Adriatic Sea (which includes Venice) launched a tender for a preliminary feasibility and economic study for the construction of a new cruise terminal in Marghera.

It is unclear if the current size restriction of 96,000 GT will continue to apply while alternatives are under consideration or if the reduction to 40,000 GT applies with immediate effect.

Additional reporting by Mary Bond