Joint statement: Cruise Ships v. World Heritage
Venice – Dubrovnik 3rd June 2019
On June2nd, a cruise ship caused an accident when the crew lost control of the ship and it smashed into a dock and a tourist river boat in the very historical center of Venice (Giudecca canal).
A few years ago, a cruise ship of the same company (MSC) at anchor in front of the Old City damaged the pipelines between Dubrovnik and the island of Lokrum, trying to avoid a near collision accident caused by strong wind. The ship’s anchor tore up phone lines, electricity and water pipes causing a 30,000 Euro a day loss on the island. Regrettably, the Dubrovnik city authorities’ response to the accident consisted in concentrating the cruise ship anchoring in the Bay of Gruž, which is a densely inhabited area, physically too narrow to accommodate large cruise ships, and on top of all recently inscribed as a buffer-zone to the UNESCO site of the Old City of Dubrovnik.
These incidents prove that, on top of their environmental impact, giant cruise ships represent an immediate threat to our communities.
The cities of Dubrovnik and Venice, which are particularly suffering from mismanagement of mass tourism, need urgent action in order to preserve their way of life, inhabitants, ecosystem and cultural heritage.
Until this very day, not even their World Heritage UNESCO status has been able to secure the adoption and implementation of Management Plans that would take into account the carrying capacity for each site.
As members of the Civil Society Network of Mediterranean Historical Cities, which also includes the UNESCO protected cities and islands of Corfu, Paphos (Cyprus), Crete and Rhodes, we urge all parties responsible to finally make a decision to keep giant cruise ships at a safe distance from the delicate ecosystem of Venetian Lagoon and from the historical centres of Dubrovnik and other cities and islands recognized as UNESCO World Heritage Sites.
Signed by (the list is being updated):
Udruga Grad Dubrovnik
San Giacomo Association Corfu
ex-Artis Cultural Association Paphos (Cyprus)
Rhodes International Culture & Heritage Society (RICHeS) Rhodes
Regno di Candia Crete
ANNEX: the Dubrovnik – Lokrum precedent
August 16, 2004
Saturday two large ships with 2600 people on board… were drifting towards a hotel.
Ships looked like toys bopping in the harbour.
The wind caused the ship (MSC Armonia) to shift from where it was anchored… until there was a 20m gap between the two large ships… distance should have been minimum of 150m.
The anchors got tangled up and they both had to limp out to the open sea where they managed to untangle and come back to port.
Could have been another Titanic… only seconds from a very large disaster.
The ships tore up phone lines, electricity and water pipes at the Lokrum resort in peak season, possible loss of 30,000 euro a day.
The accident summarized by another open source:
16 August 2004:
The strong wind moved the ship MSC Armonia (251 meters length, 2200 guests), from the place where she anchored and towards the Villa Dubrovnik hotel. At one moment, according to witnesses, the distance from the hotel’s terrace to the ship was only 15 meters. Hotel guests were in a state of panic watching the mega cruise liner approaching the hotel. During the attempt to escape from possibility of running aground or hitting the hotel Villa Dubrovnik, Armonia’s anchor pulled the anchor of Club Med 2 (440 guests on board). Both ships then sailed out to the open sea and after the risky manoeuvre they dropped anchor. The incident has left the island of Lokrum without power, water supply, and phone lines as cables and pipes were destroyed during the manoeuvring inside the bay. City authorities said that due to the damage, tourist season for this small island, just a ten minute pleasant boat trip distance from the Port of Dubrovnik, is over. Daily income loss of 30,000 euros has been estimated. Port authorities have authorized the ships to leave the Port of Dubrovnik only after both cruise companies have deposited 100,000 euro as compensation for the damage caused.