The idea that not allowing cruise ships into the lagoon will damage the Venetian economy is predicated on the false premise that it’s helping in the first place to let them in. The backbone of the Venice we know and love is found in the small merchants, boutique hotels, and fine restaurants that hordes of cruise ship tourists don’t patronize in the slightest. Buying fake Carnival masks made in China at tourist trap shops around the corner from San Marco is not what’s going to save Venice.
Sometimes the situation facing a person, a city, a community doesn’t really need to be described in words, as one can tell just by looking when something is plainly wrong. This is one of those situations, as merely watching this behemoth churn through a narrow dredged canal near Venice shows you just how silly it is for La Serenissima to tie her fortunes to these floating monstrosities. You don’t have to be an oceanographer to realize why a city sinking into the sea shouldn’t have its fragile foundations attacked by the turbulence these beasts generate.
To hear hoteliers and restauranteurs tell it, it’d be one thing if the upshot having a series of city-sized ships slinking through the canals was netting them an influx of customers who make their businesses more profitable, but that isn’t happening–cruise ship folks generally don’t have a professional guide like Doug Sassi showing them where to find the authentic Venice away from the tourist traps. They don’t stay over night for multiple nights if they stay at all, they don’t venture past Piazza San Marco and the Rialto, they don’t spend money with local businesses other than the occasional tourist trap trinket shop selling fake Carnivale masks, and they don’t really take in the real Venice in a sustainable way. There needs to be an alternative to driving sustainable business here.