In the coming months, some larger cruise ships may be redirected to terminals away from the city center.

Huge cruise liners, which bring thousands of visitors to the city every day, have long been a hot-button issue.

After years of debate, Venice is once again toying with the issue of rerouting large cruise ships from its city center, according to Italian transport minister Danilo Toninelli. “We’ve been talking about big ships for 15 years and nothing has been done,” said Toninelli on Wednesday at a meeting to discuss alternative berthing options, as reported by CNN. “These floating palaces will start to go elsewhere.”

Potentially beginning as early as September, as part of a working group’s alternative solution, some ships will be rerouted to dock at the Fusina and Lombardia terminals on mainland Venice, away from the city’s core islands. (There are no specifics yet on just which ships will be redirected.) By 2020, Toninelli’s goal is to have one-third of all ships channeled away from the city center. 

The idea of redirecting certain cruise ships from Venice’s core is not new: In 2017, the government revealed a plan to divert ships to the neighboring town of Marghera but said it would take four years to develop a suitable port. And the latest rerouting news is far from final: In a statement, Cruise Lines International Association (CLIA) wrote, “There is currently no ban in place preventing cruise ships from visiting Venice. Discussions concerning the future of cruise ships using the Giudecca Canal have been ongoing for several years and those discussions continue today without any conclusion.”

“There’s a lot of chaos surrounding the issue in general,” said Nicola Ussardi, a member of the No Big Ships activist group, as reported by the Guardian. “But these are just declarations, nothing official.”

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From April to October, cruise ships deliver 32,000 visitors to Venice each day, according to CNN, leading to protests about overtourism from locals. Critics also say the large ships cause pollution and endanger the city’s famed lagoons. An earlier incident this summer also led to revived calls for a ban: In June, the MSC Opera cruise ship collided with a dock and riverboat, injuring five people onboard, after being unable to stop. 

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