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Venice moves into cruise control

By James Masters, CNN
updated 8:48 AM EST, Fri November 22, 2013
Venice is one of the most popular and picturesque places for cruise passengers to visit. The Italian city is renowned for its architecture, waterways and artistic splendor. Venice is one of the most popular and picturesque places for cruise passengers to visit. The Italian city is renowned for its architecture, waterways and artistic splendor.
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STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • Venice will limit the number of cruise ships allowed to sail into Italian city's port
  • Reduction of 20% on number of ships weighing more than 40,000 tonnes from January
  • From November 2014, liners over 96,000 tonnes banned from sailing in Giudecca canal
  • Protestors had dived into the water and swam towards cruise ships to delay them last month.

(CNN) -- Imagine lying in the back of a gondola, watching life pass by in one of the world's most picturesque cities.

The grand architecture allied to the ornate palaces and grand statues which adorn Venice's enchanted waterways leave tourists awestruck.

Then there is St Mark's Square -- the money shot which every tourist wants to capture as they sail towards the iconic Basilica of San Marco.

So imagine the frustration when that photo -- that one moment you've been waiting for -- includes the huge funnel of a cruise ship the size of a floating city.

But now these floating metropolises, complete with their several restaurants, theaters, cinemas and range of swimming pools, will have to find a new place to park up with the local government moving to strike a balance between tourism and protecting the city's image.

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The city has imposed new restrictions on cruise liners entering the city -- with those weighing over 96,000 tonnes banned from sailing down the world famous Giudecca canal from November 2014.

And from January traffic will be cut by 20% -- from 2012 levels -- on ships weighing more than 40,000 tonnes which enter the Giudecca canal linking the main part of Venice to the island of Giudecca.

"I don't think anybody knows the impact it will have at moment," Carolyn Spencer Brown editor-in-chief of Cruise Critic -- a website devoted to the cruise industry -- told CNN.

"From the perspective of our readers, there has been a lot of confusion but the bottom line is that the cruise ships are still stopping in Venice.

"Venice is the bucket list city of all time and everyone should have the opportunity to see it.

"The only big change is where the boats sail in and out -- it's a beautiful experience.

"I don't think it will stop people going or spoil the experience. It's still a great place to embark or disembark from because you can always book a hotel and get a bus into town."

The restrictions mean that some tourists will now be unable to take in the breathtaking view of St Mark's Square while on board the ship.

One of the world's most popular tourist destinations, Venice draws hundreds and thousands of sightseers each and every year intent on exploring its intricate series of canals and waterways.

But anger has been growing among Venetians over the number of cruise ships sailing to the port and infringing on the city's picturesque landscape.

In September protestors jumped into the water and managed to delay several ships from sailing up the Giudecca canal while others clashed with riot police on the banks.

The new regulations will mean that only five cruise liners will be able to sit in the port at any one time, while they will be unable to move between sunrise and sunset.

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"Finally the trend towards gigantic ships in the lagoon has been turned around," the mayor of Venice, Giorgio Orsoni, said in a statement to the media.

"We've had enough of these mega cruise ships just meters away from San Marco, from now on there will be clear limits on the size of ships that can enter Venice."

While liners can currently move to within 300 meters of St Mark's Square and experience the view in all its glory, the cruise industry has been supportive of the new regulations.

In a statement given to CNN by CLIA, the Cruise Lines International Association Europe, the organization stated its commitment to finding a "sustainable and long-term solution" for the city of Venice.

It read: "CLIA views the outcome of the meeting that took place last week in Rome as a positive on-going commitment of the representatives of the Italian Institutions to find a sustainable and long term solution for the city of Venice.

"This goal is shared by the cruise industry. We are in the process of determining the impact of the decision, and any estimation or evaluation at this time is premature.

"Venice is consistently rated as the number one European cruise destination for our industry and we look forward to further strengthening our role as a key contributor to the economic vitality of Venice."

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