You’ve probably heard in recent years the efforts to ban cruise ships in Venice, Italy.

This is true! No more cruise ships will be allowed to dock in Venice, for now.

While there has been an effort to create a larger cruise passenger terminal outside of the main city in Marghera, Italy (primarily for MSC cruises), the ability for all cruise lines including NCL, to dock in the city center (aka Lagoon) will remain restricted.

NCL makes changes to all itineraries that include Venice, Italy – Much to the disappointment of passengers.

Norwegian Cruise Line has tried to keep Venice on the itinerary for smaller ships but has now said it’s just not feasible anymore.

In response to these restrictions that prevent large cruise ships from entering the Venice Lagoon and docking at the traditional piers, vessels of considerable size destined for Venice, Italy, are now mandated to anchor outside the lagoon. Consequently, guests are required to use tender boats to reach the Port of Venice.

In all fairness, after the ban on large cruise ships, NCL tried to keep Venice on the schedule, but passengers stated it took over 2 hours to get tender boats back and forth. People clearly weren’t happy about that.

Despite Norwegian Cruise Lines’ efforts to preserve the scheduled visits to Venice, the tender operation and the ensuing experience for passengers have not aligned with the service standards NCL has tried to provide.

Unfortunately, as a direct consequence of the long tender boat lines and complications for larger ships, adjustments have been made to the itineraries for 2024 and 2025 that include Venice as a destination.

Venice Off the Itinerary: Alternative Ports and Sea Days for Norwegian Cruise Line in 2024/2025 1

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Adapting to Venice’s Cruise Ship Restrictions: What It Means for Your Next Cruise on Norwegian Pearl and Norwegian Dawn

The 2024 and 2025 itineraries for the Norwegian Pearl and Norwegian Dawn have been updated. For the year 2024, these alterations entail replacing scheduled stops in Venice with visits to alternative ports such as Ravenna, Italy; Rijeka and Zadar, Croatia; or Koper, Slovenia, depending on port availability. For 2025, the itineraries have been adjusted to substitute the Venice stops with an additional day at sea.

Detailed information on the affected sailing dates

  • Norwegian Pearl Embarkation Dates:
    • 2024: Includes dates from May 27 through August 9.
    • 2025: Encompasses dates from August 19 through October 23.
  • Norwegian Dawn Embarkation Dates:
    • 2024: October 7.
    • 2025: April 10 and April 22.

What to do if Your Cruise Has Changed

For detailed insights regarding the itinerary changes, including alterations to the order of ports and timing of arrivals, passengers are advised to consult the “Itinerary Changes” section on their reservations or within the NCL app.

Norwegian Cruise Line has proactively sent notification letters to cruisers affected by these updates.

If Venice was the sole purpose you chose one of these cruises, it’s possible you may be able to get a full refund or transfer your cruise to a different itinerary. But remember, an Itinerary change isn’t usually a reason alone to get a full refund, so it may be at the discretion of NCL on bookings that have nonrefundable deposits.

A few things to consider

You might be thinking “That’s fine, I’ll visit Venice from Ravenna“. The reality is, it’s just too far. People have been able to make the trip to and from Ravenna but it means hours on a bus or train EACH way leaving very little time to explore the city. So as a cruiser, you’re better off planning your trip to include Venice before or after the cruise.

It’s also worth noting that Ravenna, Italy is actually lovely to visit so the changes that would include Ravenna aren’t all bad. However, the other ports aren’t a good substitution to Venice in our opinion.

Why are cruise ships banned from Venice now?

If you’ve ever been to Venice before and witnessed one of these massive ships sail through the lagoon, you’ll understand why they’re not looked kindly upon by the locals and the government. They’re simply massive and there are real concerns about the tide and wake impact on the low lying streets as huge ships pass. Additionally, local governments and residents of Venice have said the pollution impact with both noise and air is not worth allowing the ships to continue to dock.

While this is all disappointing, being a real fan of Venice myself, I understand the restrictions and thing it’s the right choice.

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