Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Loving Venice to Death

Imagine a parking lot of diesel cars idling outside your apartment on the Riva all day
The monsters have returned in full force.

No, I'm not talking about tourists, but about cruise ships. A recent article in the New York Times lays out some of the serious concerns over the number of cruise ships now passing through the Giudecca Canal and the Basin of San Marco and their potentially disastrous effects on the city, its foundations, and structures. Here is the link:


The massive stern of a cruise ship dwarfs the home (center) of the famous seafaring Cabots.
Additional information on cruise ships in Venice (among many other things) can be found in the excellent publication The Venice Report: Demography, Tourism, Financing, and Change of Use of Buildings (Cambridge Univ. Press, 2009). A must-read, as they say, for anyone interested in the challenges facing the city today. Among the most interesting statistics reported there:

The average stay of a cruise ship in Venice was 22 hours at the time the study was being prepared--but I strongly suspect that that amount of time has decreased to allow for more ships to pass through the ports. In other words, like the vast majority of visitors to Venice, the tourists off cruise ships are day-trippers.

In fact, of the 16.5 million total visitors per year who visit the city, 12.5 million are in town for just a few hours.

And according to the Venice Report, the average total expenditure in Venice of those here for a few hours is 19 euros.

19 euros.

To return specifically to those who visit on cruise ships, just over half of those 1.6 million whom the Times says visited last year bother to disembark at all. 60% according to the Venice Report.

Such statistics, along with information included in the Times piece, makes me wonder who exactly, aside from the infamously irresponsible cruise lines themselves (eg, http://www.foe.org/getting-grip-cruise-ship-pollution), is profiting from this huge and perilous increase in cruise traffic?

As various American cities have been plagued by drive-by shootings, so Venice is plagued by cruise-by tourism.

It's perfectly understandable that so many people around the world would wish to see Venice at least once before they die, but it would be awfully nice if they'd do so in a way that does not contribute to the death of the city itself.
Venetians have much more reason to fear cruise ships than cruise ships have to fear Venetians


  1. Is that monster on the Riva (or its twin) still there? Ugh.


  2. I haven't seen one this large in that place since taking this picture. I get the feeling we may be due for one again soon, though.

    For the beginning of the Biennale that same site, complete with a chain-link fence around the quay-side and 24-hour armed security, was occupied by a truly massive yacht (the world's largest), called Luna, owned by the Russian "businessman" Roman Abramovich. Among his many business ventures are, as he has admitted himself, theft, bribery, fraud, and an "aluminum war" in which his battle for control of that industry resulted in the murder of over 100 plant managers, metal traders and journalists... He also own the Chelsea football club and important works by Francis Bacon, among others.

    Hard not to think, "There goes the neighborhood" when a boat that like shows up.