Tender Issues Cause NCL Cruise Ships to Skip Venice

Norwegian Cruise Line is dropping Venice as a port of call, impacting this summer’s Norwegian Pearl and Norwegian Dawn itineraries.

An aerial view of a large cruise ship in the ocean during Venice Port Calls.
(Photo via NCL)

According to a memo to agency members of NCL’s President’s Club, the line will instead call at Ravenna, which is two hours away from Venice, or will make itinerary adjustments with amended calls in Croatia.

The cruise line says, “The tender operation and overall experience falls short of the standard we aim to deliver.” This is a requirement for large ships of over 25,000 gross tins, which are banned from entering Venice’s lagoon.

NCL Pearl will call at Ravenna

An NCL cruise ship encountering tender issues during Venice port calls while traveling in the ocean.
(Photo via NCL)

The adjustments impact guests booked on two ships this summer. Most of Norwegian Pearl’s sailings starting from May 2024 will call instead at Ravenna. Rijeka, Croatia, will replace the scheduled stops on June 14 and October 4.

On Norwegian Dawn’s 2024 cruises, Venice calls are replaced with Zadar, Croatia, which also sees a scheduled stop in Messina, Sicily, dropped in favor of Catania in Sicily. For 2025, stops in Venice will become a day at sea pending confirmation of a new port of call.

“We recognise Venice is one of the world’s greatest destinations and acknowledge the inconvenience and frustration this may cause,” NCL added. Other cruise lines have shifted calls to ports such as Ravenna and Marghera. The latter is being developed into a viable mainland alternative for large cruise ships.

Cruise ship ban imposed since 2021

A clock tower is in the middle of a square in NCL's Venice Port Calls.
(Photo via NCL)

A cruise ship ban in the center of Venice had been debated for many years. All previous attempts failed until a cruise ship slammed into a Venice pier in 2019, injuring five people. This ramped up pressure for action again, and a ban came into force in 2021.

Venice is also rolling out a tourist fee for day trip visitors starting this spring. The €5 fee can be paid in advance and is valid only for specific popular holiday dates to discourage overcrowding on the busiest days.

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