Venice has appealed to top European cruise ship destinations, from Amsterdam to Barcelona, Dubrovnik and Marseille, to unite in tackling the dangers and environmental impact of hulking liners, port authorities said yesterday. The rallying cry for new rules to force companies to adapt their ships to the historical port cities that host them follows a collision between a cruiser and tourist boat in Venice that forced tourists to run for their lives.
"I have written to all European cities that share our experience with cruise tourism, and that find themselves having to balance economic development with environmental sustainability," Pino Musolino, chairman of the northern Adriatic Sea port authority, said in statement. He called on them to "join forces" to oblige companies to "launch ships compatible with our structures and the environment." Venice and its lagoon are already on UNESCO's list of World Heritage Sites but Italia Nostra says unbridled tourism, a steady exodus of longtime residents and environmental decay pose a huge threat to the city's survival.
According to UNESCO's website, the danger list is meant to "encourage corrective action." Cruise ships in Venice have been a source of controversy for years. Critics say that giant tourist vessels are an eyesore and an environmental threat, and contribute to tourist overcrowding. The June 2 collision between MSC Cruises' massive 2,679-passenger Opera and the moored River Countess, which had 110 people on board, re-ignited calls for banning giant ships. The accident conjured up memories of the 2012 accident involving the Costa Concordia, which overturned after hitting rocks near the island of Giglio, killing 32 people.