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Protestors Take To Canals | Controversial Cruise Ships Return To Venice

VENICE: The first cruise ship since the pandemic began has made its way through the heart of Venice, escorted by triumphant water-spouting tugboats and elated port workers.

However, hundreds of people staged protests on land and in a small armada of wooden boats waving “no big boats” flags as the cruise ship travelled down the Giudecca Canal.

The battle for Venice’s future was stark as the MSC Orchestra set sail with some 1,000 passengers.

The voyage heralded the return of cruise ships to the historic city of canals after more than 18 months, but the vessel reignited an anti-cruise movement that for more than a decade has opposed the passage of the enormous ships through the fragile lagoon due to environmental and safety concerns.

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Italian premier Mario Draghi’s government pledged this spring to get cruise ships out of the Venice lagoon, but reaching that goal will take time.

Even an interim solution rerouting larger ships away from the Giudecca Canal is not likely before next year. Ridding the lagoon of the ships, which can be more than 250 metres in length and weigh over 90,000 tons, could take years.

Venice has become one of the world’s most important cruise destinations over the last two decades, and in 2019 served as a lucrative turnaround point for 667 cruise ships embarking nearly 700,000 passengers and carrying a total of 1.6 million, according to the association Cruise Lines International.

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