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Cruising in Venice: Port changes for 2024

The Italian government has banned all but the smallest cruise ships from central Venice. Most large ships now arrive and depart at Marghera (an industrial district) and other locations on the Italian mainland. However, you may be able to check in at a terminal in Venice's city center as before.

LA BELLA VITA with Marghera industrial port

ABOVE: A small ship, La Bella Vita of European Waterways, cruises in the Venetian Lagoon with Marghera's industrial waterfront as a backdrop.

The Italian government announced in 2021 that all cruise ships (except small boutique ships and river vessels) were being banned from central Venice, including the existing cruise port.

The government's claimed long-term goal is to create a new artificial harbor and cruise port on the Adriatic at some unstated--and possibly imaginary--time in the future, with ships using the mainland industrial and petrochemical port of Marghera and the nearby car-passenger ferry terminal at Fusina (where work has begun on pier extensions and a new passenger terminal).

Fun fact, if you're entertained by government boondoggles: The Italian authorities have reportedly budgeted a staggering €158 million to shift most cruise operations from Venice to the Venetian mainland. See: Venice Cruise Ports (with maps).

What's happening in 2024:

So what does this mean for you if you were hoping to cruise from Venice on a medium-size or large passenger ship? That depends on whether your cruise ship meets the requirements for mooring in the city center.

  • The ban applies to ships that are are larger than 25,000 GRT,  are greater than 180 meters in length, are taller than 35 meters, or have "a production exceeding 0.1% of sulfur." If your ship exceeds those limits, it will need to moor on the mainland.

    Some cruise lines have simply uprooted their operations altogether: For example, Royal Caribbean has relocated its "Venice" departures and arrivals to Ravenna, which is more than two hours from Venice by bus. Other lines have moved ships to Chioggia or Trieste. Some cruise lines' published itineraries reflect this, with port descriptions such as "Venice (Chioggia)" or "Venice (Ravenna)." See Venice Cruise Ports (with maps) for more details.

  • If your ship is smaller and more "green," or if it's a river vessel, it will be able to cruise from the Marittima or San Basilio/Santa Marta terminals in central Venice (as in the past).

Where to check in for your Venice cruise:

  • In many cases, large-ship passengers check in at the Marittima cruise basin, just as before. The only difference is that, after you've checked in, you're bused to a pier on the mainland where your ship will be waiting for you. This means you can continue to stay at cruise hotels in central Venice and use the inexpensive People Mover to reach the Marittima cruise basin.

  • But don't take our word for it! The situation is very fluid, so read your cruise documentation carefully and check with your cruise line if you aren't sure where to check in.

Also see:
All Venice cruise articles
Venice cruise ports (with maps)
17 hotels near Venice's cruise piers

About the author:

Durant Imboden photo.Durant Imboden has written about Venice, Italy since 1996. He covered Venice and European travel at for 4-1/2 years before launching Europe for Visitors (including Venice for Visitors) with Cheryl Imboden in 2001.

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