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The 2024 cruise season in Venice is expected to see a higher number of passengers  as the ‘distributed port’ model with moorings in Marghera remain in operation. The arrival of MSC Sinfonia on 24 March will officially open the 2024 cruise season  which was presented today at the Venice Passenger Terminal (VTP) headquarters during a press conference attended by all relevant stakeholders  and authorities  including Fabrizio Spagna (President of VTP), Fulvio Lino di Blasio (President of the North Adriatic Sea Port Authority) Captain Marco Parascandolo (Venice Harbourmaster) and the Deputy Mayor of Venice, Andrea Tomaello.


Venice is expected to welcome 540,000 cruise passengers in 2024, approximately 9% more than in 2023 when cruises brought 497,000 passengers to the port of Venice. With  cruise lines scheduling 242 calls this year and Venice serving as homeport for 95%  of them, passengers wanting to visit Venice will have more opportunities  to do so, with positive effects on local businesses, which is crucial for boosting sustainable cruise tourism.


There will be 20 cruise lines  taking passengers to Venice in 2024, with 39 ships calling at the “distributed port” facilities in the Porto Marghera area (Liguria and Lombardy quays), at the two Fusina quays as well as at San Basilio and Marittima (that will welcome ships up to 25 thousand tons of tonnage as required by Italy’s Legislative Decree 103/21). 90% of arrivals belong to the premium and luxury segment, confirming Venice’s ability to attract this “new” type of tourism and passengers who can add value to tourism in the city and to the local cruise supply chain, especially when Venice serves as homeport.


On the river cruise front, 2024 results are expected to be in line with the previous year. Two companies will be operating in the lagoon  this year, making over 70 calls  and serving around 13,000 passengers.


Behind these figures are  investments in the amount of approximately 6.3 million euros made by VTP during 2023 and planned for 2024 for the construction of a terminal in Fusina and ancillary works at its berths, the purchase of equipment for enhanced safety and security services, the updating of hardware and software systems for ship and passenger management and in general for necessary improvements to existing terminals.


In particular, VTP will invest 4.9 million euros in the new 3,000 square meters Fusina terminal, which will have docking space for 2 ships using Venice as homeport and the capacity to handle 400 passengers per hour in an air-conditioned facility equipped with seats and specific areas for authorities and law enforcement officers, as well as an outdoor area for taxi, bus and car rental with driver.


In the short and medium term, the North Adriatic Sea Port Authority intends to continue its plan of investments and actions aimed at increasing the sustainability of the cruise sector. In fact, 2023 saw the  launch of multiple initiatives, including those aimed at improving both nautical accessibility –the “Channeling the green deal for Venice” project was brought to successful conclusion – and environmental sustainability, with the implementation  of the acoustic and atmospheric monitoring system and the signing  of the Blue Flag Voluntary Agreement. New projects will take shape in 2024: investments in the amount of 90 million euros are planned for the electrification of the quays – including those of Marittima and Fusina – as well as for operational and infrastructural projects to support the growth of the sector. Added to these are the ‘commissioner works’ which, as of 2023, can count of the allocation of 21 million euros to boost the cruise sector: 6 million euros have already been spent to complete construction works at the “Liguria” and “Lombardy” quays and 15 million euros are earmarked  for design activities, studies and environmental investigations relating to the maintenance  of the Malamocco-Marghera and the Vittorio Emanuele III canals as well as to preparatory interventions for moorings at the new Canale Nord Terminal.


Fulvio Lino Di Blasio, President of the North Adriatic Sea Port Authority, stated: “The 2023 figures are the result of incessant work carried out by the Commissioner office  and the Port Authority to ensure cruise lines have a variety of mooring options available pending the completion of the new terminal in Porto Marghera in 2026. A number of interventions  were also aimed at improving nautical accessibility, in compliance with the general principle of safeguarding the Lagoon. 2024 will see a substantial confirmation of these figures: Venice will remain among the top 15 cruise ports in Italy, with a  calls to passengers ratio that testifies to a concrete change of pace towards a more sustainable cruise industry, also thanks to a strong presence of small to medium-sized ships, often belonging to the luxury segment. These results stem from the “sustainability-first approach”  adopted by the Port Authority whereby any intervention must be accompanied by a preliminary assessment based on scientific data. To streamline procedures, it was decided that works coordinated by the Special Commissioner should be validated through a national environmental impact assessment (VIA) rather than through the longer incidence assessment procedure (VInCA)  commonly used by local government. Our ultimate goal  is to create value, not only for the cruise industry but also for suppliers  in the Veneto region, who benefit from the financial advantages of having Venice serving as homeport, and for citizens who should reap the advantages of tourism rather than suffering disadvantage“.


Fabrizio Spagna, Chairman and CEO of Venezia Terminal Passeggeri S.p.A., stated: “We  keep working on a new “distributed” cruise model compatible with the city and freight traffic. We partner with local, regional and national authorities to ensure compliance with current regulations and promote responsible management of cruise tourism. Also thanks to a substantial investment plan, Venezia Terminal Passeggeri is preparing suitable structures and facilities to enable cruise lines and passengers to benefit from  easy and safe docking, so that Venice can still serve as homeport  making use of a distributed system of  moorings. In this regard,  construction is underway at the Fusina terminal, which is expected to come into operation in August: Home Port operations will then be handled on site, with a significant improvement in the travel experience for passengers. We are rewriting the present and future of cruises in Venice, in an attempt to balance the different needs at stake, so that the arrival of ships and passengers can contribute positively to the economic growth of the city.”


Andrea Tomaello, Deputy Mayor of Venice, stated: “Today’s data are good news also and above all for the 20 thousand employees and companies in the port sector, accounting for 4% of employment in Venice’s metropolitan city area. After a decree by the Draghi-led government had cancelled the cruise  business in Venice without providing alternatives,  the sector was able to restart and achieve growth again. Today’s excellent news, however, is the confirmation that Venice will keep serving as homeport, thus ensuring the arrival of quality tourists who will be in town for several days enjoying the services and the tourist and commercial offer that we can provide. This is precisely the type of tourism that  the City  Administration wants to attract. We must work to give certainty to workers and operators: the investment in Fusina is very good in this sense, as it provides stability for the future. However we must look at the port of Venice as a whole and determine what we can and want to do for the coming years while safeguarding the city and the lagoon“.


Captain Marco Parascandolo from the Venice Harbourmaster’s office, concluded: “The Harbourmaster’ office acts as a link between the shipping companies and all the entities working in the port and plays a fundamental role in ensuring safe navigation by constantly monitoring traffic along the 20-km-long Canale dei Petroli, also with the help of the Vessel Traffic Service system. In recent years we have worked hard to allow cruise ships to pass through and reach moorings and berths in Marghera, reconciling their needs with those of cargo ships. That wouldn’t be possible without the help of the operators involved in the technical and nautical services of pilotage, towing and mooring, who assist us in the delicate phase of access and departure to and from the port“.