Protests are taking place in Venice as cruise ships resume service from the city.
The first cruise ship to pass through the heart of Venice since the pandemic began has arrived, escorted by jubilant water-spouting tugboats and happy port personnel.
Hundreds of people staged demonstrations on land and in a tiny armada of wooden boats as the cruise liner sailed down the Giudecca Canal, waving “no big boats” flags.
As the MSC Orchestra took sail with 1,000 passengers, the battle for Venice’s destiny was raging.
The journey marked the return of cruise ships to the historic city of canals after an 18-month hiatus, but it also sparked an anti-cruise movement that has resisted the passage of the massive ships through the fragile lagoon for more than a decade due to environmental and safety concerns.
The administration of Italian Prime Minister Mario Draghi committed this spring to remove cruise ships from the Venice lagoon, but achieving that aim will take time.
Even a temporary remedy rerouting larger ships away from the Giudecca Canal is unlikely to be implemented by the end of the year. It could take years to clear the lagoon of the ships, which can be more than 250 meters long and weigh more than 90,000 tons.
According to the Cruise Lines International association, Venice has become one of the world’s most important cruise destinations in the last two decades, serving as a lucrative turnaround point for 667 cruise ships embarking nearly 700,000 passengers and carrying a total of 1.6 million passengers in 2019. (Clia).
Passengers boarding the 16-deck MSC Orchestra on Saturday for a week-long cruise that included stops in southern Italy, the Greek islands, and Dubrovnik, Croatia, were greeted at the port with posters reading “welcome back cruises.”
Antonella Frigo, a local from Vicenza, had her departure date rescheduled several times owing to the epidemic and was looking forward to finally going on vacation. However, she sympathized with protestors who want the massive ships to be taken out of Venice’s historic center.
“I’ve always thought they should be moved, but I’m afraid I have to leave Venice because I’m from the area,” she says. After being dropped off at the, Ms Frigo stated. (This is a brief piece.)