Norwegian Cruise Line Ditches Major Port Due to Tender Concerns

Unforeseen restrictions and lack of sufficient tender service forces Norwegian Cruise Line ship to remove Venice calls.

In response to Venice’s cruising restrictions, Norwegian Pearl is charting a new course this summer, weaving through alternative ports and offering passengers a modified adventure.

Itinerary Alteration for Norwegian Pearl

Norwegian Cruise Line has announced a significant change to the upcoming June 14, 2024, sailing of Norwegian Pearl due to the standards of the local tender service falling short. It comes as the famous city previously banned large cruise ships, including sailing past the historic St Mark’s Square downtown via the lagoon.

“Large cruise ships calling to Venice are required to anchor outside of the lagoon and utilize tender boats to access the Port of Venice,” said Norwegian Cruise Line in a letter to passengers and travel partners.

While we have made every effort to maintain these calls to Venice, the tender operation and overall experience this provides our guests has fallen short of the standard we aim to deliver. As a result, we have modified Norwegian Pearl’s itinerary.”

The initial 10-day itinerary for Norwegian Pearl promised a classic tour starting and concluding in historic Venice (Trieste), with the journey navigating through the scenic ports of Koper, Slovenia; Zadar and Split, Croatia; Kotor, Montenegro; and Corfu, Santorini Island, and Mykonos, Greece.

Norwegian Pearl Cruise Ship
Photo Credit: StudioPortoSabbia / Shutterstock

Adjusting sails to the new regulation, the updated route now includes an inaugural call to Rijeka, Croatia, and an earlier visit to Koper, Slovenia, reshuffling the order of destinations to accommodate the new sailing times and days.

Read Also: Norwegian Cruise Ship Tenders Guests Into Venice to Dodge Ban

The change also affects the ship’s additional 10-day “Greek Isles: Santorini, Mykonos & Croatia” cruises from Venice (Trieste) on July 3, July 31, August 28, September 25, and October 23. 

Venice’s Ban on Large Cruise Ships

Venice’s Grand Canal and the romance of its storied waters have long been the pinnacle of cruise ship itineraries. However, in a landmark decision announced in 2021, the Italian government banned large cruise ships from central Venice. This prohibition extends to all vessels not classified as small boutique ships or river vessels, effectively excluding them from the existing cruise port.

Ships larger than 25,000 gross tons, over 180 meters in length, taller than 35 meters, or having sulfur emissions surpassing 0.1% are required to anchor on the mainland, such as the industrial port of Marghera and the car-passenger ferry terminal at Fusina, which is currently expanding with pier extensions and a new passenger terminal.

NCL Cruise Ship in Venice
Photo Credit: volkova natalia / Shutterstock

Norwegian Pearl, a jewel of the Norwegian Cruise Line fleet, boasts a gross tonnage of 92,530 and is over 294 meters in length. This classifies it as a large ship that cannot enter Venice’s waters.

Cruise lines have adapted in various ways. Royal Caribbean, for instance, has relocated its Venice departures to Ravenna, over two hours away by bus. Others have opted for alternative nearby ports like Chioggia or Trieste, such as Norwegian Cruise Line.

The cruise line stated, “We recognize that Venice is one of the world’s greatest destinations, cherished by both our guests and crew, and as such acknowledge the inconvenience and the frustration this disruption may cause.”

Adding to the efforts to curb over-tourism, Venice has also announced a cap on tour group sizes. Beginning this summer, groups will be limited to 25 individuals within the historic center and on the Murano, Burano, and Torcello islands. Subject to city council approval, this regulation is set to be enforced starting June 1, 2024.

The government’s vision for the future includes the creation of a new artificial harbor and cruise port on the Adriatic, though the timeframe remains undefined.

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