Venice gets a summer without cruise ships.

By Meena Thiruvengadam
August 13, 2020
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When Italian cruise ships begin sailing again this weekend, one stop they won’t be making is Venice.

Prior to the coronavirus outbreak, Venice was a popular cruise stop — its cobblestone streets swelled with approximately 32,000 passengers each day between April and October. But when the MSC Grandiosa sets sail on Sunday, it will depart from Genoa and head to Malta, stopping in Rome, Naples, and Palermo along the way.

Another MSC route between Italy and Greece will also skip Venice. Meanwhile, Italian company Costa Cruises is sailing from Trieste (about an hour-and-a-half train ride from Venice) to Greece, and from Genoa to Malta, without stopping in Venice.

The Italian government has cleared cruises to restart on Aug. 15, but is requiring operators to use European routes and ban tourists from outside the EU’s list of approved countries, according to The Local.

Credit: Getty Images

Some Venice residents are thrilled not to be receiving cruise ships this summer. Activists who lobbied against cruise ships in Venice are planning a community celebration of a summer without cruise ships, according to The Guardian.

Former mayor Paolo Costa told The New York Times that he viewed the COVID-19 tourism slowdown as a chance to reimagine both local tourism and the Venetian economy’s reliance on tourists. Venice was once a key trade port, but its economy has since become heavily reliant on the millions of tourists who visit each year.

Before coronavirus, the city known for its canals had been struggling under the weight of overtourism. In an effort to manage crowds, it already implemented an $11 entrance fee for day trippers.

In 2019, Venice began pushing the largest cruise ships out of the city’s center, instead making them dock at ports outside of the city’s core. By then, one cruise ship, the MSC Opera, had already crashed into a dock in the center of Venice, sending onlookers scrambling.