On Sunday morning, June 2, a cruise ship crashed into a Venice dock and small tourist boat as onlookers on land fled in terror. The crash further irritated Venetians who already oppose the massive cruise ships docking in the city. Since the event, citizens have banded together in protest in the hope of banning the ships once and for all.
Cruise Ship Terror
Around 8:30 a.m., the MSC Opera headed straight for the San Basilio Terminal on the busy Giudecca Canal. The ship, which accommodates around 2,600 people, reported having engine trouble as it neared the dock. Two tugboats attempted to lead the large ship to safety, but they were unable to prevent the crash. The cruise ship collided with a moored tourist boat and then with the crowded dock. Video footage on Twitter shows onlookers running away from the dock in an attempt to escape the horn-blaring ship. At least five people were injured in the crash.
Protests immediately broke out across Venice following news of the crash, and locals called for renewed efforts to prevent large cruise ships from entering the Giudecca Canal. These protests aren’t new: There has long been talk about banning cruise ships in the area, and this incident has only added fuel to the fire.
Safety isn’t the protestors’ only concern: Opponents of the cruise ships argue that the massive tourism the ships bring — Venice hosts nearly 2 million visitors each year — negatively affects the quality of life in and the character of the city.
We Are Here Venice advocates for a ban on cruise ships due to the pollution the ships cause.
“The survival of Venice is dependent on its lagoon system, but this is being seriously eroded by ship traffic,” one of the organization’s stickers reads.
The British street artist Banksy crashed the Venice Biennale art exhibition to showcase his opinion of the ships. A video on Banksy’s Instagram page shows people viewing his artwork, which depicts cruise ships and tourism taking over Venice.
The crash has also sparked conversation among political leaders.
“Once again it is shown that big ships cannot cross the Giudecca Canal,” said Luigi Brugnaro, the mayor of Venice.
As government officials determine whether or not to change the city’s cruise-ship policy, some questions remain: Have the protests really prompted an overall change in the way the city of Venice views cruise lines and their patrons? How would a decision to ban cruise ships affect Venice’s booming tourist industry?