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food / travel

Venice And Cruise Ships, Saving An Awkward Romance

Docked in Venice, MSC Divina carries 4,000 passengers
Docked in Venice, MSC Divina carries 4,000 passengers
Teodoro Chiarelli

VENICE — The delicate balance between preserving the beauty of a place and allowing a fruitful tourist business is particularly tricky when it comes to the question of cruise ships in Venice.

The Italian government has announced that beginning in 2015, large cruise ships (those weighing more than 96,000 tons) will be banned from St. Mark’s basin and the Giudecca Canal. The new regulations will also include new restrictions on mid-sized ships of at least 40,000 tons.

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Flooding in St. Mark's Square — Photo: kikmoyoo

This follows long-running protests from activists who claim that the corrosive smog and vibrations from the traffic are damaging the singularly scenic lagoon city. Currently, the largest ships can pass within 300 meters of St. Mark's Square.

Last week, however, a project that could find a way to salvage the cruise business in the city was proposed by former vice mayor of the city, Cesare De Piccoli. Working in collaboration with Duferco steel, the "Venis Cruise 2.0" project proposes a new terminal, designed with floating and removable docks in front of the MOSE flood gates, which are meant to protect Venice from its increasing problem of flooding.

Up to five ships would be able to moor there and passengers and goods would then be transported to Venice via water. This plan would take two years to build, at an estimated cost of 128 million euros.

[rebelmouse-image 27088262 alt="""" original_size="640x414" expand=1]

Gondolas in 1960 — Photo: Navnetmitt

"The implementation of the new infrastructure," says Duferco's Antonio Gozzi, "is a long-term response to keep Venice in its primary role in the European cruise industry, preserving the Maritime Station, and maybe increasing jobs in the area."

Looking further into the details, the pontoon that the cruise ships would moor on will be located in front of the MOSE bulkheads, 22 meters from the northern Cavallino dam. Accessibility to the terminal is safe — even when the bulkheads are raised during high tides.

[rebelmouse-image 27088263 alt="""" original_size="1440x960" expand=1]

A narrow barrier island protects the Lagoon of Venice from storm waves in the northern Adriatic, and breakwaters protect inlets to the lagoon — Photo: NASA

The new terminal would consist of a single wharf, 940 meters wide and 34 meters long, and a connecting structure will ensure emergency services are connected with the mainland. Other vessels and boats will be able to pass through a drawbridge in the central part of the structure itself.

A rendering of the proposed pontoon — Source: Venis Cruise 2.0

The project must be approved by the Italian government, which no doubt will consider how to keep the visitors coming to Venice, and how to keep Venice...Venice.

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Why Crimea Is Proving So Hard For Russia To Defend

Ukraine has stepped up attacks on the occupied Crimean peninsula, claiming Monday that a missile Friday killed the head of Russia's Black Sea fleet at the headquarters in Sevastopol. And Russia is doing all within its power to deny how vulnerable it has become.

Photograph of the Russian Black Sea Fleet headquarters in smoke after a Ukrainian missile strike.​

September 22, 2023, Sevastopol, Crimea, Russia: Smoke rises over the Russian Black Sea Fleet headquarters after a Ukrainian missile strike.

Kyrylo Danylchenko

Russian authorities are making a concerted effort to downplay and even deny the recent missile strikes in Russia-occupied Crimea.

Stay up-to-date with the latest on the Russia-Ukraine war, with our exclusive international coverage.

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Media coverage in Russia of these events has been intentionally subdued, with top military spokesperson Igor Konashenkov offering no response to an attack on Russian Black Sea Fleet headquarters in the Crimean city of Sevastopol, or the alleged downing last week of Russian Su-24 aircraft by Ukrainian Air Defense.

The response from this and other strikes on the Crimean peninsula and surrounding waters of the Black Sea has alternated between complete silence and propagating falsehoods. One notable example of the latter was the claim that the Russian headquarters building of the Black Sea fleet that was hit Friday was empty and that the multiple explosions were mere routine training exercises.

Ukraine claimed on Monday that the attack killed Admiral Viktor Sokolov, the commander of Russia's Black Sea Fleet. "After the strike on the headquarters of the Russian Black Sea Fleet, 34 officers died, including the commander of the Russian Black Sea Fleet. Another 105 occupiers were wounded. The headquarters building cannot be restored," the Ukrainian special forces said via Telegram on Monday.

Responding to reports of multiple missiles strikes this month on Crimea, Russian authorities say that all the missiles were intercepted by a submarine and a structure called "VDK Minsk", which itself was severely damaged following a Ukrainian airstrike on Sept. 13. The Russians likewise dismissed reports of a fire at the headquarters of the Black Sea Fleet, attributing it to a mundane explosion caused by swamp gas.

Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov has refrained from commenting on the military situation in Crimea and elsewhere, continuing to repeat that everything is “proceeding as planned.”

Why is Crimea such a touchy topic? And why is it proving to be so hard to defend?

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