VENICE — The delicate balance between preserving the beauty of a place and allowing a fruitful tourist business is particularly tricky when it comes to the question of cruise ships in Venice. 

The Italian government has announced that beginning in 2015, large cruise ships (those weighing more than 96,000 tons) will be banned from St. Mark’s basin and the Giudecca Canal. The new regulations will also include new restrictions on mid-sized ships of at least 40,000 tons.

Flooding in St. Mark's Square — Photo: kikmoyoo

This follows long-running protests from activists who claim that the corrosive smog and vibrations from the traffic are damaging the singularly scenic lagoon city. Currently, the largest ships can pass within 300 meters of St. Mark's Square.

Photo: marcberryreid

Last week, however, a project that could find a way to salvage the cruise business in the city was proposed by former vice mayor of the city, Cesare De Piccoli. Working in collaboration with Duferco steel, the "Venis Cruise 2.0" project proposes a new terminal, designed with floating and removable docks in front of the MOSE flood gates, which are meant to protect Venice from its increasing problem of flooding.

Up to five ships would be able to moor there and passengers and goods would then be transported to Venice via water. This plan would take two years to build, at an estimated cost of 128 million euros.

Gondolas in 1960 — Photo: Navnetmitt

"The implementation of the new infrastructure," says Duferco's Antonio Gozzi, "is a long-term response to keep Venice in its primary role in the European cruise industry, preserving the Maritime Station, and maybe increasing jobs in the area."

Looking further into the details, the pontoon that the cruise ships would moor on will be located in front of the MOSE bulkheads, 22 meters from the northern Cavallino dam. Accessibility to the terminal is safe — even when the bulkheads are raised during high tides. 

A narrow barrier island protects the Lagoon of Venice from storm waves in the northern Adriatic, and breakwaters protect inlets to the lagoon — Photo: NASA

The new terminal would consist of a single wharf, 940 meters wide and 34 meters long, and a connecting structure will ensure emergency services are connected with the mainland. Other vessels and boats will be able to pass through a drawbridge in the central part of the structure itself.  

Hebergeur d'image

A rendering of the proposed pontoon — Source: Venis Cruise 2.0

The project must be approved by the Italian government, which no doubt will consider how to keep the visitors coming to Venice, and how to keep Venice...Venice.

On the Giudecca Canal — Photo: DancesWithLight