Venice: Cruise Ships Are Killing Us
Tourism surging, residents worry about Costa Concordia disaster
By Mark Russell, Newser Staff
Posted Feb 5, 2012 6:18 AM CST
The MSC Magnifica cruise liner ship passes near St Mark's square in Venice's basin on January 23, 2011. United Nations cultural body UNESCO urged the Italian government the same day to restrict the access...   (Getty Images)

(Newser) – Fragile, waterlogged Venice has long been unhappy with the onslaught of ever-larger cruise ships that inundate its picturesque port. But the wreck of the Costa Concordia has sent fears soaring, and many in the city are calling for regulations to cut down on the 650 cruise ships that come to Venice each year and keep them further from the venerable city, reports the AP. Cruise ship tourism has increased from 280,000 passengers in 1997 to 1.8 million last year, and with the European cruise industry expected to double by 2020, that number will continue to soar.

"Venice is too often on its knees in front of the gods of economy and tourism, and we have been paying the consequences for years," says a local craftsman who is trying to get rid of the cruise ships. "The city has been emptied of its residents, and it's a victim of pollution from this unsustainable traffic." Cruise ships are responsible for about 30% of Venice's air pollution, and many residents complain that their wakes damage the city's foundations. City officials say the muddy bottom of local waters and deep canal trenches required by the cruise ships make Concordia-style disasters very unlikely, but many think long-term changes are still necessary. Venice "is designed to have ships, and we will always have ships around Venice, but not these kind of ships," says a UNESCO official.

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Feb 5, 2012 9:58 AM CST
Venice has been a seafaring city for hundreds of years, but these super sized cruise ships are ruining everything that is magical about it. Not only are they huge, looming presences that destroy the vistas, they are crammed full of people who are looking for the quick experience and souvenir. Venice is aging, fragile and damaged... the cruise ships are making it much worse, much faster. Similar problems are occurring around the world where huge ships disgorge their pollutants and thousands of annoying passengers into fragile, picturesque towns that quickly change, adapt and soon are ruined as an authentic destination, quickly colonized by fast food and tee shirt shops. I've seen the results in Key West, in Venice, in Dominica, in Mexico... and of course, Italy has seen the Concordia.
Feb 5, 2012 9:11 AM CST
One does not simply walk into Venice.