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Italy Bans Cruise Ships From Entering Venice

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Cruise enthusiasts the world over rejoiced last month when ships sailed from American ports for the first time in months, following strict restrictions put into place by the CDC that prohibited them from sailing due to fears of Covid-19 spreading on board. However, whilst America may have its cruises back, one of the world's most historic locations has said goodbye to cruises for good.

The historic Italian city of Venice, known for its canals and water taxis, has seen a ban on cruises from entering its famous waters – and unlike most restrictions seen in 2021, it's not due to Covid-19. Here's everything you need to know about this story, plus a reminder of the current restrictions that travelers face if they plan on heading to Italy.

Venice Cruise Statistics

Venice is one of the most popular cities in Italy, with around 20 million tourists visiting the city in a typical year. As well as being popular with travelers who enter via land and air, it’s also popular with those who arrive on the water. More than 1.6 cruise passengers moved through the port of Venice in 2019, a figure which rose on consecutive years from 2017 to 2019. In a typical year, more than 400 cruise ships sail through the tight waterways that helped put the city on the map.

Large Cruise Ships Banned – Information For Travelers

Italy has banned large cruise ships from entering Venetian waters from August 1st, in a swift decision that has been welcomed by residents of the city. Whilst the port in the city is at the edge of town, arriving there requires cruise ships to sail past the UNESCO World Heritage site of St Mark's Square. That famous landmark played a significant part in the decision, as UNESCO threatened to list it as endangered if cruise ships weren’t banned from docking.

The ban will see cruise ships that are either heavier than 25,000 tonnes, longer than 180 meters, taller than 35 meters or use more than a certain amount of fuel when maneuvering banned from entering the lagoon, which could also see large yachts restricted from entry. The city is also planning to build five temporary docks at the nearby cargo port of Marghera.

Channel in venice with boats

Whilst the ban on cruise ships may come as a surprise to casual observers, the suggestion of such a ban is hardly a new concept. Residents and environmentalists have called for such action to be taken for decades, claiming that their presence in the city is not only damaging the fragile, water-based buildings but that they have also permanently negatively changed the ecosystem of Venice.

venice (2)

A statement by the Cruise Lines International Association addressing the decision read:

“The cruise industry has been supportive of a new approach for many years, so this is a major step forward. Also, the government’s decision to appoint a special commissioner to fast-track the process is a welcome development. We now look forward to progress being made towards the provision of alternative docking arrangements in time for the 2022 season.”

Cruise Ship Venice

Vaccinated American and Canadian travelers are free to visit Italy without having to quarantine, though they will need to provide proof of vaccination or a recent negative test result. Unvaccinated travelers must provide a PCR test taken within 72 hours, and must quarantine for a period of 10 days.

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Wednesday 14th of July 2021

Good news! I hope Amsterdam will soon follow, although they'll probably focus on blocking tourists from coffeeshops first ;-).


Wednesday 14th of July 2021

i see this as a big win for the locals as well as tourists from the ground but i'm curious what the economic impact will be balancing between lost revenue vs saving on maintenance from the cruise flocks

Stephen White

Monday 19th of July 2021

@AYL, No lost revenue. Unfortunately, articles like this give the false impression that all cruise ships are banned from Venice. NOT TRUE. Cruise ships will be docking in nearby Marghera (approx 7 miles from the historic center, and technically within the comune of Venice), so passengers will still be able to visit the historic sites of Venice, spend their money, eat and drink, etc. What's changed is that ships won't be docking in Venice proper. It's a change but not a disastrous one.