Fury of Venetians after 110,000-ton cruise ship passed 'dangerously close to shore to perform salute to company shareholder'
- Carnival Sunshine appears to pass within 20m of city's fragile shoreline
- Liner is owned by the same parent company of the Costa Concordia
- Ship botched its manoeuvre, witnesses claim, squeezing other boats
Ventians have reacted with fury after a cruise ship allegedly passed within yards of the city's historic banks while performing ‘a salute’ to a major company shareholder.
Film footage of the Carnival Sunshine, which is owned by the same parent company as the notorious Costa Concordia, appears to show the 110,000-ton liner passing within 20 metres of the city's fragile shoreline.
The ship botched its manoeuvre, squeezing a vaporetto water taxi and other boats between the ship and the bank, witnesses claimed.
People in Venice have reacted with fury to footage showing a cruise ship which appears to pass within yards of the city's fragile shoreline - and show a water taxi, circled, squeezed between the liner and the bank
At the time of the incident an 150ft super yacht belonging to former Carnival CEO and major shareholder Mickey Arison was moored on the same part of the shoreline, the local newspaper Nuova Venezia reported, fuelling rumours that the manoeuvre was an in fact a sail-by salute.
The incident raises the spectre of the Costa Concordia cruise ship, which sank after hitting rocks off the coast of Tuscany during just such a salute to the island of Giglio last year.
Writer Roberto Ferrucci, who filmed the exercise, told the Italian news agency ANSA: ‘I was sitting at the café reading on the bank, as I often do, when I saw the ship tailing.
Rather than moving towards the centre of the channel it almost brushed the shore causing a vaporetto to get caught dangerously between the ship and the bank. It was shocking.’
Carnival have denied any wrongdoing saying it was ‘a safe transit’.
Witnesses claimed that the Carnival Sunshine botched its maneouvre as it sailed in the Venetian waters
Writer Roberto Ferrucci filmed the ship from a vantage point at a cafe and called the move 'shocking'
But Venice’s proud residents are already up in arms about the presence of large cruise ships passing through the lagoon, with protesters last month calling for a ban on all those that pass by St Mark's Cathedral.
The committee of the No to Big Ships group denounced the latest incident as ‘reckless’.
A statement said: ‘The reckless manoeuvre or error destroys the argument that an accident in St Mark's basin is impossible.’
Local councillor Beppe Caccia tweeted 'Shame on you Mr Mickey Arson, Sunshine putting Venice at risk.'
A 150ft super-yacht belonging to major shareholder Mickey Arson was moored on the same part of the shoreline, sparking rumours that the Sunshine had performed a 'sail-salute'
Environmental group Codacons called for port authorities to seize the ship pending an investigation by prosecutors.
Andrea Orlando, minister for the environment, said that the number of ships must be reduced.
This episode 'confirms the high risk we are taking,’ he said.
A statement from the cruise company said: ‘Carnival intends to prove that the few metres claimed by the witness are in fact 72 metres and that the brush is no more than a safe transit carried out in accordance with the rules of transit.'
A spokesman said reports of a 'salute' were 'unfounded'.
'The passage through the Venice Lagoon occurred in full compliance with navigational regulations and well within the accepted parameters for distance from shore,' the spokesman said.
'The Carnival Sunshine passed more than 70 metres from Riva dei Sette Martiri on the planned route. The distance from shore has been confirmed by the Coast Guard, the local pilot association and Carnival Cruise Lines.'