A giant cruise ship endorsed by Sophia Loren swept into Venice sparking protests over spoilt views and air pollution

  • Controversial visit on Saturday by biggest ever liner to enter Venice saw protesters waving ‘No Big Ship’ banners
  • Since the Costa Concordia
    wreck environmentalists have stepped up efforts to have large
    cruise ships banned from the lagoon city

By
Lawrence Conway

04:35 EST, 5 June 2012

|

11:29 EST, 5 June 2012

A visit by the biggest cruise liner to ever enter the Italian lagoon city of Venice sparked anger among campaigners who claimed the ship blocked views and polluted the air.

The 140,000 tonne MSC Divinia swept past St Mark’s Square on Saturday while protestors on the shoreline waved banners which read ‘No Big Ships’. 

The liner which can carry more than 4,500 people is named in honour of screen legend Sophia Loren and was christened by the Italian star last month in Marseille.

Looming presence: The huge MSC Divina dwarfs the historic domes of Venice during its controversial visit to the lagoon city on Saturday

Looming presence: The huge MSC Divina dwarfs the historic domes of Venice during its controversial visit to the lagoon city on Saturday

The protesters, who belong to the No Big Ships Venice Committee have written an open letter to Ms Loren calling on her to ditch her endorsement of the monster ship.

The group wrote: ‘We can’t believe that you want your name, which is a legend in Italy and the world, to be associated with a ship that contributes to the destruction of Venice, part of humanity’s heritage.

‘We are asking you to give up your role as godmother of the ship. Venice and the world would see that as a divine gesture. Venice belongs to the world. Help us save it.’

Looming presence: The huge MSC Divina dwarfs buildings as it leaves Venice after just its stop which sparked protests in the lagoon city

Looming presence: The huge MSC Divina dwarfs buildings as it leaves Venice after just its stop which sparked protests in the lagoon city

Historic: Protesters from the No Big Ships Venice Committee are angry the 140,000 tonne ship was able to enter Venice claiming it is far too big

Historic: Protesters from the No Big Ships Venice Committee are angry the 140,000 tonne ship was able to enter Venice claiming it is far too big

Contrast: The 333m long MSC Divina passes in front a gondola station in St Mark's Square on Saturday amid claims it is far to big to enter Venice without damaging the fragile lagoon city

Contrast: The 333m long MSC Divina passes in front a gondola station in St Mark’s Square on Saturday amid claims it is far to big to enter Venice without damaging the fragile lagoon city

Since the wreck of the Costa Concordia in January, environmentalists have stepped up their efforts to have large cruise ships banned from the lagoon which surrounds the historic centre of the canal city.

The Concordia capsized off the coast of the Tuscan island of Giglio after it hit rocks. At least 30 people were killed and two are still unaccounted for. 

Open letter: Italian actress Sophia Loren (pictured in 2010) is being called on to reverse her endorsement for the MSC Divinia

Open letter: Italian actress Sophia Loren (pictured in 2010) is being called on to reverse her endorsement for the MSC Divinia

That disaster put the spotlight on the Venice lagoon, one of Italy’s most delicate maritime area.

Big cruise ships enter the city to drop off passengers conveniently close to the historic centre and the Grand Canal.

The letter to Ms Loren said the big ships pollute the air and their vibrations and the lapping waves caused by the wakes of their passage hurt the foundations of historic palaces and churches.

The letter said: ‘Venice and its lagoon are both world heritage sites and risk an environmental disaster every day because of the passage of these monsters of the sea.’

Italia Nostra (Our Italy), the country’s leading conservation group has also long been opposing the entry of large cruise ships into the lagoon. 

The Divina has a first-class suite named after Loren which is decorated with large pictures of the Oscar-winning actress at various stages of her film career.

The liner, which is 330m long and features 1,739 cabins, has a top traveling speed of 23.7 knots.

On board the luxurious new ship there are lifts for passengers, an infinity pool, restaurants, casino and disco.

Silvio Testa, the campaign group’s spokesman, said to The Independent his biggest concern was pollution from the huge vessel.

He said: ‘This thing produces the same amount of pollution in an hour as 15,000 cars.

‘Not only that – the pollution contains 15 times as much sulpher as car fumes. That’s why we want this huge vessel banned from the lagoon.’

Following the Concordia disaster the Italian government banned the close approach of vessels weighing more than 40,000 tonnes.

But liner companies taking passengers to Venice are able to get around the ban because alternative routes in and out of the main port do not exist.

Historic: The huge MSC Divina swept passed St Mark's Square as it brought tourists on the cruise liner into Venice's famous lagoon on Saturday

Historic: The huge MSC Divina swept passed St Mark’s Square as it brought tourists on the cruise liner into Venice’s famous lagoon on Saturday

Historic: Venice between two river mouths features a large lagoon at its entrance and is vulnerable to large ships sending currents of water from the lagoon into its many canals, it is claimed

Historic: Venice between two river mouths features a large lagoon at its entrance and is vulnerable to large ships sending currents of water from the lagoon into its many canals, it is claimed

Here’s what other readers have said. Why not add your thoughts,
or debate this issue live on our message boards.

The comments below have not been moderated.

Venice is bascially underwater. By having a massive cruise ship come in to dock just doesn’t make sense. I see flooding…..

It’s not much fun living by the lagoon when one of these ships docks. They are so big, I can’t see the sky out of my apartment when they stopp nearby. For the amount of people on board, I am always struck by how few actually get off to see the city on their own. The last thing the city needs is another large group of tourists clogging up the overcrowded streets, being herded about by someone with an umbrella, and then have most of them return to the ship to eat and drink.

Abramovich’s dinghy.

– TRAV, GLASGOW, 06/6/2012 14:24 completely agree, I didn’t like the idea of cruising but just got back from one a few days ago with 4500 people onboard! Its definitely a more efficient way of seeing so many different countries and places you wouldn’t otherwise have the time/money to see separately. For me, being on a cruise was just like being in a city. When I’m in London or out walking in a town I don’t think ‘OH MY GOSH, ALL THESE PEOPLE, MUST RUN AWAY AND LIVE ALONE EKKKKKKK LET ME OUT’. 4500 people don’t literally stand in one room together..they can stay in their rooms/have private areas to swim/sunbathe onboard the cruise/are off doing different things. Of course there are other people around, just like if you visited Barcelona or Paris, full of people! Don’t knock it till you try it!!

If each passenger disembarks and buys only a bottle of water…there is profit!!!!!!
Send them here, we need them.

At £22 for 2 cups of coffee in St Mark’s Square I would think the venetians would welcome crujise ships by the score, and the ships are not an eyesore as they are birthed far away from the Grand Canal and St Marks

Gross..

As its so large, why does it not drop anchor further out at sea and send tenders into Venice

As long as you keep Capitano Francesco Schettino away from the ship’s bridge and blondes, everything will be just fine!!

OMG, I didn’t realise there were so many people against cruising.
Some mention they are expensive and only for oap’s (sterotyping or what)
I earn an average wage and am of average age (43 to be exact)
I save up yearly to go on a cruise and Ive seen some really run down cities (Guatemala,Panama for example)
The revenue that these so called floating hotels brings is invaluable to the economy of these area’s.
A ship also needs permission from the said country to dock so it’s not as though the Italian authorities are ready to block the docking of these ships.
I always thought cruising was kinda snobby till I tried it, now i’m hooked and believe me a scouser living in Glasgow (no insult meant to either party!!!) i’m certaintly no snob. I just work hard save hard and am proud to say that because of cruising, I’ve seen places I would never even thought of visiting and have helped their economies.
Oh by the way, I have never cruised the med as yet, usually do the Pacific and Caribbean..

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