Large cruise ship ban lifted in Venice

Venice, Italy has overturned a ban on cruise ships over 96,000 gross tonnage from sailing through the city's Giudecca channel and passing St. Mark's Square.

Over the summer, celebrities like Michael Douglas and Cate Blanchett rallied in support of the ban citing the destruction and potential for flooding of the historic landmarks. The decree also placed a limit on the passage of five ships per day weighing over 40,000 gt.

The Veneto Region Administrative Tribunal was urged by numerous tourism groups and the Venice Passenger Terminal (VTP) to overturn the ban, but stated that any restriction on cruise ship travel would only be enacted after sufficient alternate routes for ships had been established, reports SeaTrade Insider.

Members of the Cruise Lines International Association (CLIA) have been voluntarily complying with the ban since the fall so the new decision will not go into effect immediately. After several delays, cruise companies have been awaiting the completion of the Contorta Sant'Angelo Channel project which allow for safer cruise ship passage through central Venice. Authorities will also conduct a thorough audit of public and private interests related to the ban.

Last year, the number of cruise ships sailing through Venice was capped at 708, compared to 809 in 2012.

"We are expecting no cruise ships over 96,000 gt this year, resulting in a predicted [loss] of just under 300,000 passengers," Sandro Trevisano, president of VTP stated, noting that the ban is a hindrance to the city's thriving tourism industry.

"We are hoping this decision will induce the government to pass measures to support the return of cruise ships to Venice, however the Contorta Sant' Angelo Channel project would require 18 months for completion, putting our 2016 cruise business also at risk."