Decisions made for Venice cruise ships, channel routes and offshore platform.


A meeting was held on 7 November 2017 in Rome of the ‘Comitatone’ committee charged with managing Venice and its lagoon. This committee includes representatives of the national government and local administrators, including the Mayor of Venice.


After years of debate about different scenarios for cruise ships navigating the Venetian Lagoon, it was decided that within three or four years a new cruise ship terminal will be constructed in the mainland industrial zones near the town of Marghera. It is hoped that this new terminal will be able to accommodate the largest, new generation cruise ships of 200,000 tons. However, any cruise ship over 55,000 tons will have to dock here and will not be able to pass through St Mark’s Basin in the centre of Venice. Instead, these vessels will enter the Malamocco inlet between the lagoon and the sea and will navigate through the Petrol Channel (see link at end of this blog for map) to the new terminal. Previously, this channel was predominantly used for oil tankers navigating to and from the oil refinery in the Marghera industrial area. Alessandro Ferro, the Mayor of Chioggia (near Venice), voted on the Comitatone committee against the proposals for bigger cruise ships to navigate through the channel, stating “they must widen the petrol channel”.
It may also be possible for medium sized vessels to navigate from the new cruise ship terminal at Marghera or the Petrol Channel to the Maritime Station Port in central Venice through the Vittorio Emanuele III Channel. This would require dredging the currently unused Vittorio Emanuele Channel III from its current 6 metre depth to 9 metres. This decision will depend on an Environmental Impact Assessment already ordered.
Smaller cruise ships and other vessels below 55,000 tons will be able to continue navigating through the centre of Venice and St. Mark’s Basin, entering and leaving the lagoon through the Lido inlet. They will continue to be able to dock at the Maritime Station Port and other docking points in the centre of the city, which was considered important to protect local jobs at these locations.
Inevitably, the new cruise ship terminal and transporting passengers between it and Venice by boat or road will lead to new jobs for these operations and in the construction of the new terminal.
In addition, it was positive that the committee gave the go-ahead for the offshore platform for commercial and container traffic where larger vessels can transfer their goods onto small vessels before they enter the lagoon. This was previously explained in this blog post;
Environmentalists and local campaigners reacted angrily to the latest decisions about Venice and its lagoon. “The worst possible project has been chosen”, commented Luciano Mazzolin of the campaigning committee “No Big Ships in Venice”.  This committee had called for all cruise ships to be banished from the Venetian Lagoon, especially since the Costa Concordia cruise ship crash in January 2012 near Tuscany, as discussed in this previous blog post;

As we have previously argued in many articles on this blog, our preferred solution would have been to construct a cruise ship terminal outside the lagoon connected to a new subway train system for the lagoon, city and airport. Nevertheless, the recent Comitatone decisions have the merit of developing tourism and cruise ship business in Venice with minimal disruption of the lagoon environment. Moreover, docking larger cruise ships at the new terminal should take them away from docking close to residential properties, which has been very disruptive for some local residents. So, while the latest decisions do not correspond to our previous proposals, they do have some advantages. However, given the experience of numerous changed decisions, plus delayed and failed projects in Venice, it remains to be seen whether these decisions will be implemented.

Map of Venice and its channels:

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