Norwegian Cruise Line Removes Iconic Port From Itinerary

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Norwegian Cruise Line has reached out to guests booked on the May 12, 2023 sailing of Norwegian Gem that the ship will not be calling to Venice, Italy as planned, but will instead remain overnight in Trieste.

This can be very disappointing to guests who had looked forward to visiting the iconic city, and little explanation is given as to why the change has been made.

Norwegian Gem Not Visiting Venice

Norwegian Gem will no longer be visiting Venice, Italy on its upcoming 10-night sailing, departing from Trieste on Friday, May 12. Venice was to have been the very first port of call on the voyage, but the cruise line has emailed guests about the relatively last-minute change.

“While we try to maintain original itineraries as much as possible, unfortunately, at times there are circumstances outside our control that require us to make adjustments,” the email stated. “As such, due to port availability, we will no longer be calling to Venice, Italy and instead will overnight in Trieste, Italy.”

Speculation is rampant about why the change has been made, but the cruise line is offering no further details.

Venice has become adamant in recent years about preserving its ecosystem and avoiding the potential damage from large cruise ships. Large vessels have been banned from Venice since 2021, and local protests are common when ships do dock at nearby port facilities.

Norwegian Gem Cruise Ship
Photo Credit: Darryl Brooks / Shutterstock

In July 2022, Norwegian Gem used small tender boats to ferry guests from Trieste to Venice, directly to the famous St. Mark’s Square. One-way, the tender trip is approximately 90 minutes, but can be a rough journey depending on weather conditions.

The length of the trip, cost of fuel for operating tenders, docking fees, and other operational challenges may also have made the strategy untenable.

Now that Norwegian Gem will not be calling on Venice directly, guests have no options for exploring the city through the cruise line.

“Shore excursions booked through NCL for Venice, Italy will be automatically canceled, and a full monetary refund of the fair paid will be issued to your onboard account,” the email explained.

While the ship will remain docked in Trieste overnight and into May 13, 2023, all guests must embark the cruise on May 12 as per customs regulations.

Cruise Ships Docked in Venice
Cruise Ships Docked in Venice (Photo Credit: Oleg Senkov / Shutterstock)

The final all-aboard time prior to setting sail on May 13 has not yet been determined, but will be communicated to guests as they embark the ship on May 12.

No other ports of call during the sailing have been impacted, and guests can still look forward to an amazing exploration of stunning destinations such as Rijeka and Split in Croatia; Kotor, Montenegro; and Corfu, Santorini, Athens, and Mykonos in Greece.

Visiting Venice

Trieste and Venice are relatively close, just 100 miles (160 kilometers) driving distance. While Norwegian Cruise Line is not offering shore tours to the city from Trieste, it is possible that guests may choose to arrange independent excursions through private tour operators.

If travelers do arrange their own tours, it is critical to be clear about arrival and departure times to minimize any risk of missing Norwegian Gem when the ship departs Trieste.

Many other cruise lines have replaced Venice with nearby Italian ports of call, such as Ravenna or Monfalcone, which are used as homeports. Where possible, shore tours may be made available to guests who wish to visit Venice, but such arrangements can be tricky depending on the time available.

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