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Recently, I had the opportunity to visit Venice, Italy, to take the deposition of a Norwegian Cruise Line nurse in a maritime medical malpractice case and to inspect a Norwegian cruise ship in another passenger cruise ship accident claim. I can report that Venice may be one of the world’s most romantic and beautiful cities. Founded in the 5th century, Venice is spread over 118 tiny islands and has been a major maritime destination since the 10th century. The whole city is an architectural and engineering masterpiece, and virtually every building contains work by the world’s greatest artists.

Since 1987 Venice has been inscribed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site, which is probably why it is a favorite port of call for the competitive cruise line industry, battling not just each other to bring bigger ships with more passengers into Venice’s cruise ship terminal, but also the city itself as it fights to preserve the authenticity of its charming canals, architecture, and local culture.

Despite the city’s efforts, as cruise ships continue to increase in size, it is not uncommon for a modern mega ship to disgorge 4-5,000 passengers in a few hours—throngs that can quickly swarm and overwhelm the narrow pedestrian streets and bridges linking the tiny islands. Bargain-hungry cruise passengers, who may have only a few hours to shop and sightsee, prefer fast-food alternatives to leisurely Italian-style meals, causing kebab shops and—heaven forbid—pizza-by-the-slice stands to pop up, trying to meet the demand. The exceptions to the rule are gelatarias offering homemade and handmade artisanal ice cream.  

These developments certainly have not made the locals happy. There already is a rule against eating fast food in St. Mark’s Square, amongst the orchestras serenading patrons who dine and drink in the famous cafes, such as the historic Cafe Florian.

These giant mega cruise ships themselves may be doing even more damage to Venice’s fragile environment than the throngs of passengers, by clogging the canals. Recently, The Guardian quoted environmental scientist Jane da Mosto: “Cruise ships bring incompatibly large numbers of visitors, but vested interests conspire to keep the terminal where it is, in the heart of historic Venice . . . . Water is not Venice’s enemy; it is its soul. The passage of every single ship causes erosion of the mudflats and sediment loss.”

Venice, a city of 54,500 residents, often doubles in size every day with tourists. Local activists have proposed selling tickets to visit Venice as a means of limiting the daily number of tourists. Others have suggested that key spots, such as St. Mark’s Square, be available only to ticket-holders.   

All these problems and more endanger not only Venice’s UNESCO certification but also its very existence. The immense effects the cruise industry is having on both the fragile infrastructure and the marine environment of Venice threaten Venice’s very existence. UNESCO recently made recommendations to Venice, which included limiting the size of cruise ships it would allow into the lagoon.((UNESCO Decision : 38 COM 7B.27, Venice and its lagoon (Italy) (C 394). ))

While I don’t want to discourage cruise ships from porting and disembarking thousands of passengers at once in Venice, I do think serious changes must take place to limit the size of the ships and the number of passengers and tourists who can visit the city at any given time. Until something changes, the major cruise lines—Royal Caribbean, Celebrity, Norwegian, Azamara, Cunard, MSC, Costa, Viking Cruises, Seabourn, Holland America, and others—will continue to bring thousands of passengers a year to Venice.  

Seeking a Personal Injury Lawyer For Your Cruise Ship Accident Claim

If you are injured on a cruise to or from Venice, Italy—for example by slipping and falling on a wet deck, tripping on an unmarked threshold, or tumbling down a steep staircase—the cruise line may be responsible for your medical expenses, pain and suffering, loss of enjoyment of your cruise, and transportation costs. Most major cruise lines—such as Royal Caribbean, Celebrity, and Norwegian—have very specific requirements as to when, how, where, and by whom any personal injury claim against them can be initiated.

For instance, most cruise lines require that lawsuits be filed within one year of the date of the incident, in Federal court in Miami, Florida, and only after certain written pre-suit notices have been sent. Successfully holding a cruise line accountable for your injuries is complex and difficult, and requires a specialized understanding of the Federal rules of civil procedure, evidence, maritime, and personal injury law. It is very important to note that not all accidents that occur on a cruise ship, in port, on an excursion, in a tender boat, down a gangway, or in the cruise ship terminal are necessarily the fault of the cruise line. Understanding the difference and how to investigate and prove the case requires years of experience and knowledge.

Our Miami personal injury law firm has over 30 years of combined international maritime personal injury experience in representing people from around the world who have been hurt on a cruise. If you have been injured on your cruise, call us at 305-441-0440 or toll free at 1-866-597-4529, email at [email protected], or SKYPE us to today and speak with an experienced cruise ship accident attorney. We are passionate about holding the cruise lines accountable for putting their profits over passenger safety. Call us today—we are ready to help.