Celebrities like Michael Douglas, Cate Blanchett call for big cruise ship ban in historic Venice

Luxury liners cruising through the heart of Venice may be a thing of the past.

Luxury liners cruising through the heart of Venice may be a thing of the past.  (iStock)

Some of the world’s best known celebrities, including Michael Douglas, Cate Blanchett, Susan Sarandon and Michael Caine, have signed a petition calling for a ban on mega-cruise ships from entering parts of historic Venice.

Over 60 international luminaries from the world of art, architecture and film are alleging that huge luxury liners sailing through the fragile channels are damaging historic treasures like St. Mark’s Square and the Guidecca Canal, reports The Telegraph.

The document was sent to Matteo Renzi, Italy’s prime minister and Dario Franceschini, the heritage minister.

The petition reads:

Dear Prime Minister, dear Minister,

Having prevailed against flood, pestilence, and war for more than thirteen centuries, Venice, the Queen of the Adriatic, and unparalleled UNESCO Word Heritage site, now, in a moment of relative tranquility, finds herself mortally threatened by the daily transit of gargantuan ocean liners, indifferent to the probable risk of catastrophe.

Since the flood of 1966, Italy and countless Italian and international supporters have contributed to the defense of the world's most fragile city, eternally subject to destruction.

The absolute lack of respect presented by the outlandish spectacle of the ongoing obstruction and potentially destruction, of one of humanity’s pre-eminent monuments is not only dumbfounding but both morally and culturally unacceptable.

We urgently request an immediate and irrevocable halt to the traffic of the Big Ships in front of San Marco and along the Giudecca Canal putting an end to this senseless devastation.

Proponents of the ban are worried that a Concordia-like disaster could occur within Venetian city limits, causing irreparable damage to storied attractions that are hundreds of years old, according to The Telegraph.

Last year, a proposal brought before the Italian government banning luxury liners of more than 96,000 tons due to their impact on the shallow lagoon was overturned. With more 600 cruise ships docking in Venice annually, bringing in an estimated 536 million in revenue in 2012, the European Cruise Council believes these ships are much needed source of local employment and money for the city.

In solidarity with preservationists, the Council did issue a statement claiming they would work to find an alternative passage through Venice as a part of a “sustainable solution” for future cruise travel. 

Starting this November, the association has agreed not to bring ships larger than 96,000 through the Venetian lagoon.