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A much-talked-about incident in which the MSC Opera cruise ship collided with a smaller ship in Venice's lagoon , concerns about sustainability and outcry from residents sick of cruise vessels have prompted Venice's recent decision to redirect ships away from the confines of the main lagoon. The Italian transport minister announced that larger ships will be rerouted towards Fusina and Lombardia terminals. Cruise ships might funnel thousands of people to destinations, but the companies don't operate in a vacuum.
Griffiths, of industry organization CLIA, points out that itineraries are planned two years in advance and organized in collaboration with destination officials. The organization is the voice of the industry, and wields significant power.
Griffiths acknowledges this, and says the association is keen to evolve with the times. As for the economy question, he says the idea that cruise ships don't bring money to a destination is a "misunderstanding. On top of that, we use local people to deliver excursions.
It may not be seen in the local pizzeria or the local bar. But actually we're still investing very heavily in the destinations we visit.
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Tourism trade is integral in many of the cities that are feeling the brunt of overtourism. Opponents would argue it's not all about money, though.
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What about the impact of the crowds? It's not just locals who notice crowds flocking in droves to Barcelona's Sagrada Familia or traipsing across Dubrovnik's Old Town walls. Visitors feel the effects too. Sue Bryant, cruise editor at the UK's Sunday Times newspaper and longtime cruise devotee, tells CNN Travel the increase in crowds in busy ports has impacted her enjoyment during recent excursions. But the responsibility's not just on officials and cruise companies, she says, pointing out that travelers can try to be more thoughtful and imaginative.
Ditto Venice; try to avoid San Marco in the middle of the day, when it's a nightmare. Wander round after dark instead, or during the day, take a boat trip out into the lagoon. Bryant also suggests considering a smaller ship and making an effort to spend money locally, staying on for a few days before or after your cruise or picking a cruise that runs in the off season. Cruise ship passengers tend to disembark all at once, which can cause overcrowding.
Passengers can do their own research to attempt to avoid being part of hordes of visitors trying to do the same thing at once. The website Avoid-Crowds.
Punch in a date and location and the site rates how big crowds will be on a scale of 1 to It also tracks public holidays in the destination, in addition to which cruise ships are in port that day. The site says its aim is to help the travel industry and local governments by mitigating the effects of overtourism.
European cities aren't the only destinations being transformed by cruising. Cruise tourism in the Caribbean brings in vital revenue for many smaller ports and island nations, but the region is also heavily impacted by the booming industry. Before his current role, Major worked as a cruise industry trade reporter and he also did a stint at CLIA, so he's seen the industry from both sides. Major says communication with communities and cruise companies is key. He also points towards cruise operators including MSC and Royal Caribbean -- which are building their own ports in the Caribbean to redistribute traffic.
As well as dealing with overcrowding, there's definitely some truth, adds Major, to the criticism that some passengers don't get off the boat and spend money in the port. US cruises that just navigate around Florida aren't nearly as popular, he adds.
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Are there people who are not going to get off? Sure there are. But most of the people want to go to the destination.