Αssociated Press reports from Venice in Italy that the first cruise ship leaving the port since the pandemic is set to depart Saturday amid protests by activists demanding that the ship be rerouted out the fragile lagoon, especially Giudecca Canal through the city’s historic center.
They argue the enormous vessels — weighing over 90,000 tons and carrying thousands of passengers at a time — pose environmental and safety risks to the canal and the city. Another protest is also planned Saturday by pro-cruise activists whose jobs depend on having thousands of visitors flowing through one of Italy’s top tourist destinations.
Italian Prime Minister Mario Draghi’s government pledged this winter to get cruise ships out of the Venice lagoon, but it will likely take years to reach that goal. The government says it is organizing bids for a viable alternative outside the lagoon, which should be posted any day now.
Still, even an interim alternative route to the Giudecca Canal won’t be ready until next year, Italy’s Ministry for Infrastructure and Sustainable Mobility told The Associated Press in an email.
“Meanwhile, in 2022, as a temporary solution, a certain number of ships can dock in Marghera, relieving the traffic through Venice,’’ the ministry noted.
Marghera, an industrial port west of Venice that is still within the lagoon, will require lengthening existing piers to accommodate big vessels as well as dredging a canal on the approach, cruise industry officials say. Because Marghera is an industrial site, that also means testing the sediment to be dredged for harmful pollutants.
Venice has become one of the world’s most significant cruise destinations over the last two decades, serving as a lucrative turnaround point for 667 cruise ships in 2019 carrying nearly 700,000 passengers, according to the cruise industry trade association, Cruise Lines International.
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Original article: Cruise ships restart in Venice while activists protest against their risks.