A New Possible Arrangement for Cruise Passengers to Arrive in Venice

In a controversial move, the Venice port has approved the anchoring of a large cruise vessel outside the lagoon to transport passengers to Venice for a days-long visit. The cruise vessel; NORWEGIAN GEM dropped anchor off the Venice Lido and transported around 1500 passengers to Venice's St. Mark Square for one day. The small vessels used to ferry the passengers were provided by the Venice Ports Authority.

In the usual arrangement, cruise vessels dock at ports close to Venice, such as Ravenna or Trieste, from where passengers take a 2-hour bus ride to Venice. The ban on cruise ships weighing more than 25,000 tons calling on the port of Venice was placed in July 2021. This came after years of protest as the entry of large cruise vessels is detrimental to the lagoon's biodiversity and poses a risk to Venice's historic floating structures. Simone Venturini, the tourism counselor, has stated that he is hoping this would not become a precedent for other cruise lines to follow up on as this attracts tourists who do not stay in the hotels in Venice and hence promotes "hit and run tourism."

Although the governors had no say in the matter, and there have been many sharp criticisms of the move, this could be the norm moving forward. In 2019, 19 million people visited the city, and 80% of this number did not stay beyond one day. To capitalize on this phenomenon, Venice might implement a fee for all visitors to the city starting January 16th, 2023. If brought into effect, each visitor will have to pay a fee of 3-10 euros depending upon how crowded the city is on a particular date.

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