The first cruise ship to leave Venice since COVID-19 curbs were eased set sail on Saturday, but some local residents protested over the return to normal and voiced their resentment about the passage of giant liners through the city.
Hundreds of people, rallied on land and small boats brandishing flags saying “No big ships”, surrounded and followed the MSC Orchestra as it departed Venice port for Greece and Croatia.
Marta Sottoriva, a 29-year old teacher who resides in Venice resident, said: “We are here because we are against this passage but also against a model of tourism that is destroying the city, pushing out residents, destroying the planet, the cities, and polluting.”
Nonetheless, the departure of the Orchestra was welcomed by port authorities, workers and the city government, considering it as a symbol of business kicking off after the pandemic hit hard the cruise industry and the wider travel sector.
Francesco Galietti, national director for the trade group Cruise Lines International Association (CLIA), said: “We are happy to be back… to restart the engines. We care a lot about Venice and we’ve been asking for a stable and manageable solution for ships for many years.”
Campaigners, who have been calling on cabinets for years to prohibit large cruise ships from passing through the lagoon, worry about safety and the environment, including underwater erosion in a city already in danger from rising sea waters.