7/17/2013 02:05:00 PM

Cruise Ships Threatening Venice Canals, Architecture, Experts Say

Photo by Libby via Flickr
Venice is a prime stop on the European cruise circuit, but historians, scientists and locals complain that the massive ships are damaging the city and its waterways, NPR reports. Cruise tourism in the Italian city ballooned dramatically from just 100,000 passengers in 1999 to 1.8 million in 2011. Ships, which can be twice the height of the Doge’s Palace and twice as long as the Piazza San Marco, cause vibrations that shake windows and lead to cracks in old buildings, history professor Matteo Casini says. Opposition to large cruise ships increased after the Costa Concordia ran aground off the Tuscan coast more than a year ago, prompting a government ban on large ships sailing too close to the coast. However, the rule was delayed for Venice and its canals until an alternative solution could be found. Frustrated locals last month organized a three-day protest using small vessels to block off the canal, flying signs saying “No Big Ships.” The Italian government is taking notice, meeting with Venice officials and the Port Authority to try to find a solution to the issue. What do you think? Should large cruise ships be allowed to sail in and out of Venice?