Venice's cruise liner ban divides the city

Giant cruise ships will be banned from Venice’s lagoon as of August 1st.

The government’s decision to defend the city’s ecosystem and heritage ends years of political hesitation…

finally satisfying activists like Tommaso Cacciari – a member of campaign group ‘No Grandi Navi’ (No big ships).

"I'm very proud, for us it's a big victory, not a small victory. Everyone knew we were disproportionately smaller than big cruise companies, it was so obvious that many compared us to David against Goliath. Us ordinary citizens with our little boats, simple and self-organised, against these giant ships that are not only giant in terms of size but also in power and money."

The ban will prohibit ships weighing more than 25,000 tons from passing through the shallow Giudecca canal, past Piazza San Marco - the city's most famous landmark.

That’s where an MSC cruise ship collided with a dock and tourist boat as it approached the passenger terminal in 2019 - injuring four people.

Campaigners see the ban as a win for safety and the environment…

but the battle may not be over.

For workers in the cruise ship and tourism industry, the government’s ban came as a blow.

Antonio Velleca has worked for a baggage handling cooperative for over 15 years.

"It was a huge blow. I felt awful, I felt I had lost a lot of certainty in my life. We had only just resumed work on June 5 after 19 months of inactivity and 19 months without work for any person who is used to working - I've worked here for 15 years - it's unimaginable."

"Taking such a big decision, without taking things gradually, without planning, is absurd. In our opinion it is evil and a crime against the workers."

Rome has passed legislation numerous times in the past to limit liners’ access to Venice, but an alternative docking point is not yet ready.

The government wants to fast-track a docking station at the industrial port of nearby Marghera,

but there are no signs that this will be completed soon.

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