Saturday, 26 July 2014

Celebrities sign petition to rid Venice of giant cruise ships

One of the large cruise ships which lovers of Venice want to see banished
As the rusting hulk of Costa Concordia is finally sent on its way from Giglio accompanied by a flotilla of tugs and salvage vessels, it was almost inevitable that Venice would launch another headline-grabbing protest against cruise ships.

The city’s plans to banish large vessels from St Mark’s Basin and the Guidecca Canal were thwarted earlier this year by a regional court – and by the absence of an alternative channel through the lagoon to the cruise terminal.

Now an assorted collection of Venice supporters – from the Aga Khan to Miami Vice’s Don Johnson – have signed a letter addressed to Italy’s Prime Minister, Matteo Renzi, calling for a “decisive confrontation” to end what they call “this outrageous spectacle.”

Among the 63 names are Sir Michael Caine, Julie Christie – whose cult 1973 film Don’t Look Now was set in Venice – architect Norman Foster, and Jane Fonda, Cate Blanchett and Michael Douglas.

The petition says: “Having prevailed against flood, pestilence, and war for more than 13 centuries, Venice, the Queen of the Adriatic, and unparalleled UNESCO Word Heritage site, finds herself mortally threatened by the daily transit of gargantuan ocean liners, indifferent to the probable risk of catastrophe.”

The Cruise Lines International Association (CLIA) responded by saying it fully supported restrictions on large ships in the Lagoon until a new route is found.

“We very much agree that a sustainable solution for Venice requires a new, alternative passage … and look forward to seeing work commence on a new route soon.”

They also pointed out that the 600 ships that dock in the city each year bring important benefits to the city and in 2013 generated 10,000 jobs – approximately one in six of all jobs in Venice.

Concordia meanwhile, which ran aground and capsized with the loss of 32 lives in January 2012, is finally on its way from the island of Giglio to Genoa to be scrapped.
 
The one-man NO CRUISE SHIPS protest in the Norwegian port of Flåm
n There was another anti-cruise ship protest this week, 1,000 miles north of Venice.  A friend visiting the Norwegian port of Flåm – a popular stop because of the spectacular Flåmsbana railway line – was confronted by a makeshift “No cruise ships” message painted on silage bales lined up in a field. There were also a number of signs proclaiming “No Grandi Navi” scattered around the village.


There are no A-list celebrities rushing to sign petitions here though. It would appear that one farmer, Anders Fretheim, is behind the protest and there is no evidence that his views have any popular support among the town’s 350 residents.