Cruise Ship Incident

Once again there has been a Cruise Ship incident. A ship went out of control in the Giudecca Canal right outside Saint Mark’s Square. This time it was the Costa Deliziosa run by the cruise company Costa Crociere and it happened yesterday the 7th of July 2019. Terror struck once again as the 294 meters long and 32 meters beam vessel wasn’t able to make the turn as it was supposed to. The right turn between Riva degli Schiavoni and the island of San Giorgio Maggiore is extremely narrow. It’s a little more than 300 meters wide and the bend is almost 90°. 

Bad weather could have caused the Cruise Ship Incident

The weather was at the time very bad with heavy rain, hail and strong wind. According to the port authorities, it could have been these extreme conditions that made the passage develope into a situation of panic. There were three tugs connected to the ship, two at the bow and one at the stern. The two tugs at the bow did all they could to try to pull the ship away from the dock, but even with their powerful engines, it was a question of just a few feet that avoided a collision with an anchored Yacht. Even further ahead at Giardini, where two local Vaporettos were landing and leaving the platform for the pedestrians, there was a moment of panic. And on land at the Riva dei sette Martiri people couldn’t decide if they should start running or if the ship would pass without crashing into the quay. 

The foundation of Venice is wood poles stuck into the mud. If a ship like this hit the ground, it could tear down half of Castello. We’re talking about a ship of around 93.000 gross tonnage.

The responsibility

Now, just like so many times before, an investigation will be opened to try to understand the reason why this incident could happen and if there is anyone who can be held responsible and maybe even prosecuted, something that strangely enough isn’t at all certain. There are so many circumstances to consider and it could very well be determined that the weather was causing it, or a technical problem or something else.

The truth is that the problem for starters is that a boat that practically is bigger than the city itself is allowed to pass in the middle of Gondolas, Vaporettos and medieval palaces and houses. 

In the second video of the cruise ship incident, you can see how the two tugs are overloading their engines to try to keep the ship clear of the Fondamenta. You see the black smoke pouring out of the funnels of the two tugs coloring the grey sky in black. This time they managed to keep the Costa Deliziosa out on the Canal. 

Well, do something about it then!

There are various projects to resolve this situation. One idea is to build a canal from Venice to Porto Marghera in a straight line northeast. That way the cruise ships can anchor at the cruise terminal in Venice without passing through the central parts of the city. There could also be a ban for ships that are too big. They should stop at Porto Marghera and from there, the passengers could be shuttled to Venice by bus or by boat. Mayor Brugnaro is in favor of this idea since he is the owner of the land to the north of where the cruise ships would moor. There are already big plans for a huge hotel and tourist complex to the south of the Venice bridge. 

The problem with this solution is that a canal that big, that deep and that close to Venice would cause a lot of damage to the sea life as well as to the flow of water going in and out of the lagoon. On the other side of the scale, we have the increasing high tides and dredging big canals back and forth in the shallow waters doesn’t help to say the least. 

The alternative

Another way would be to build a new cruise port on the east side of Lido, maybe at Malamocco. From there the passengers visiting Venice have to be shuttled by boat. The Ships would avoid having to go into the lagoon with the tricky navigation that comes with that option. If you’d want to stay on the ship, Malamocco is a whole lot nicer than Porto Marghera to make strolls or just sit on the balcony sipping a prosecco. 

The backside of this idea is that it will cost more money. Building a Cruise Terminal isn’t cheap and then the people of Malamocco could have some objections. Having thousands of cruise ships passengers running up and down the sleeping village would change the life for many. But it could also mean a boom for local business, restaurants and all kinds of other entertainment. 

What the Mayor should do though, is to start doing something… Anything. Because sooner or later there will be a major accident if we just keep on like this. In June it went well, yesterday it went well… But luck is to an uncertain factor to build security upon.

cruise ship incident
Malamocco

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