First post-COVID cruise ship leaves Venice amid protest.
The first cruise ship to leave Venice since coronavirus restrictions were eased set sail on Saturday, June 5, but some local residents protested over the return to normal and were very unhappy about the passage of giant liners through the historic lagoon city.
Hundreds of Venetians rallied on land and small boats displaying flags saying “No big ships” surrounded and followed the 92,000-tonne MSC Orchestra as it departed Venice port en route for Croatia and Greece.
“We are here because we are against this passage but also against a model of tourism that is destroying the city, pushing out residents, destroying the planet, the cities, and polluting,” said Marta Sottoriva, a 29-year old teacher and Venice resident.
However, port authorities, workers and the city government welcomed the departure of the Orchestra, operated by MSC Cruises, seeing it as a symbol of business kicking off after the health crisis that hit hard at the cruise industry and the wider travel sector.
“We are happy to be back… to restart the engines. We care a lot about Venice and we’ve been asking for a stable and manageable solution for ships for many years,” said Francesco Galietti, national director for the trade group Cruise Lines International Association (CLIA).
Many residents have been urging the Italian government for years to ban large cruise ships and other big vessels from passing through the lagoon and docking not far from the famed St. Mark’s Square.
Campaigners worry about safety and the environment, including pollution and underwater erosion in a city already in peril from rising sea waters.
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