Caribbean Cruises

First post-COVID-19 cruise ship leaves port of Venice amid protest

The first cruise line to leave the port of Venice since the easing of coronavirus restrictions set out on Saturday, as locals protested demanding an end to ships passing through the lagoon city.

The departure of the MSC Orchestra, en route for Croatia and Greece, raises the long-standing issue of banning large vessels from docking not far from the city’s famed St. Mark’s square.

“We are here because we are against this passage, but also against a model of tourism that is destroying the city, pushing out residents, destroying the planet, the cities, and polluting,” said Marta Sottoriva, a 29-year old teacher and Venice resident.

Hundreds of people rallied and small boats waving “No big ships” flags surrounded and followed the ship as it left.

Residents have been urging governments for years to ban large ships from the lagoon over safety and environmental concerns, including pollution and underwater erosion.

In April, Italy’s government ruled that cruise ships and container vessels must not enter Venice’s historic centre but rather dock in different locations.

The ban will take effect once terminals outside the lagoon will be completed, but a tender for their construction has not been launched yet. Part of the traffic might be diverted to the nearby port of Marghera starting next year.

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