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Venice locals plan party to celebrate cancelled cruises amid pandemic

Activists celebrate ‘liberation’ of Italian city

Helen Coffey
Thursday 13 August 2020 16:32 BST
A general view of Grand Canal, which is almost deserted, seen from the Rialto Bridge, during Italy's coronavirus lockdown
A general view of Grand Canal, which is almost deserted, seen from the Rialto Bridge, during Italy's coronavirus lockdown (REUTERS)

Locals in Venice are planning a party to celebrate the announcement that two cruise lines will not be stopping off in the city for the rest of 2020.

Italian lines MSC Crociere and Costa Crociere both confirmed they would drop Venice from their itineraries in favour of Trieste or Genoa when cruising restarts, reports The Guardian.

The two cities are thought to offer a safer alternative when it comes to managing passenger flow under the new coronavirus regulations.

Most other cruise lines have halted operations in the wake of the pandemic, with many not anticipating a return to service until 2021.

The news was welcomed by activists from No Grandi Navi (No Big Ships), which has long protested against the disruption caused by the hundreds of liners that dock in the city each year, dropping off more than a million passengers in total.

The group said in response to the move: “We said it, we promised it, and this is how it will be: no ship will enter the lagoon for the entire season.”

A celebratory bash is planned for Friday night on San Giorgio island.

Protesters argue that the many large liners that stop off in Venice cause pollution and damage the lagoon, as well as further aggravating the problem of overtourism.

The situation was exacerbated even further when, in June 2019, an MSC cruise ship crashed into a dock and a small tourist boat on one of Venice’s busiest canals, injuring four people.

In response, Italian transport minister Danilo Toninelli proposed that giant cruise ships be diverted from Venice’s centre, docking instead at other nearby ports – although all of them still within the Venetian lagoon.

However, concrete steps have yet to be taken.

The Foreign Office is currently advising UK travellers against all cruise ship travel indefinitely, barring river cruises.

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