Italy’s ban on ocean liners from the Venice lagoon has proven a coup for luxury cruise line Uniworld Boutique River Cruises. For the past 13 months, ships of more than 180 metres in length or weighing 25,000 tonnes have been prohibited from entering the iconic lagoon, with the vision to sustain Venice’s historic waterways, canals and public areas.
Ellen Bettridge, President and CEO of Uniworld, said removing big ships from the Italian city was having a markedly positive impact on the guest experience on river vessels.
“Uniworld are the only luxury river cruise operator who can dock right in the heart of Venice now. We’re the only ones,” she emphasised, dismissing CroisiEurope as a competitor in the same market.
“The big, huge ships aren’t coming by anymore when we’re docked in Venice. It is the most incredible vantage point to be sitting on top deck, at night, and looking out at Venice.”
“It is spectacular. I think it’s going to continue to be really good for us,” Bettridge added.
On the topic of Venice, Bettridge confirmed to LATTE that Uniworld had settled its court case with MSC Cruises following a crash in June 2019 between MSC Opera and River Countess.
MSC had initially agreed to cover the €2.4 million physical costs of damage and repair to River Countess but argued the loss of potential earnings after the river cruise line had to cancel 14 voyages, impacting 1,600 booked guests. That cost was estimated by representing UK law firm, Devonshires, to be potentially in excess of €7.5 million, and was back in the court last October.
At that time, and via Devonshires, Bettridge stated: “For years, the city of Venice has been plagued by massive ocean cruise liners being able to dock in the historic city, causing an eyesore to its beauty. It took an incident of this nature to bring about change.”
Bettridge didn’t disclose the final payout figure in the case, but told LATTE Uniworld had been settled the lawsuit in December.
River Countess underwent a complete redesign and upgrade, reemerging as S.S. La Venezia in 2020.