April 24, 2024

Venice Pulls the Plug on Cruise Ships

Large ships such as NCL’s Jade are no longer allowed inside Venice.

The fabled city of Venice, famous for its romantic canals and graceful gondolas, is facing several challenges. Situated on a cluster of islets within a lagoon in the Gulf Venice, the city that began as a medieval fishing village is slowly sinking. The islets upon which Venice is built consist of sand, silt and hard clay, which tend to compact over time. In winter, when high tides, heavy rain and strong winds all combine to bring exceptionally high water levels into the Venice Lagoon, the canals spill their banks and flood the pedestrian streets and plazas of Venice. Adding to these winter woes is the city’s summer inundation of tourists.

In recent decades, Venice has been struggling with over-tourism and, in an effort to cope with the situation, the city has introduced a fee-paying entry system for day-trippers (people who don’t stay overnight). In addition, new measures have been introduced to divert the majority of cruise ships away from the city centre to other terminals within the Venice Lagoon. Porto Marghera and Fusina Terminal are directly opposite Venice, while the small fishing port of Chioggia is located at the south end of the Venice Lagoon.

Before the ban, large cruise ships transited the Giudecca Canal.

Some cruise lines have chosen to bypass Venice and pull into other ports in the region, such as Trieste (located a two-hour train ride east of Venice on the Adriatic coast) or Porto Corsini near Ravenna (located a two-hour drive south of Venice).

Large and medium-sized ships no longer dock right in Venice (at the Marritima terminals) and instead dock on the mainland side of the Venice Lagoon, near the 4-km causeway that connects the mainland with Venice. However, many of the cruise lines still check in their passengers at a Marritima terminal and they are then taken by bus to their ship. Porto Marghera (part of the industrial port on the mainland) accommodates large ships. Fusina Terminal accommodates the small luxury ships. Train service connects Porto Marghera to Piazzale Roma at the western entrance to the Grand Canal. Passengers at Fusina Terminal are ferried across the lagoon to Venice. Small boutique ships (under 25,000 gross tons) and river vessels can still dock in Venice at the Marittima basin and at the San Basilio pier on the Giudecca Canal.

Venice can still be enjoyed from the water on a variety of water taxis and public water buses.

The thrill of arriving in Venice on a cruise ship, gliding past St. Mark’s Square and the entrance to the Grand Canal, is now a thing of the past. However, for those passengers planning a pre-cruise stay in Venice, a water taxi ride from the airport to your hotel will more than make up for it. This experience is described in a previous blog, posted September 29, 2016, called An Unforgettable Taxi Ride.

Avatar photo About Anne Vipond

Anne Vipond is the author of several guidebooks to cruising destinations around the world. She draws on an extensive sailing background to impart her enthusiasm for cruise travel. From her home port of Vancouver, she travels by cruise ship to a wide range of destinations to keep her books current and useful for her cruise readers. Her cruising articles have been published in magazines and newspapers throughout North America and over seas.