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Wednesday, June 6, 2012

Protests in Venice calling for ban on entry of MSC Divina

Past events do cast their shadow – but this was not all too expected.  It is a ship – with 13 of its 18 decks named after Gods & Goddesses of ancient Greece – Greek mythological.  The ship had been christened in Marseille, France -- and Sophia Loren, the line's longtime brand icon, once again served as godmother.  The land of Venice,  a city in northeast Italy sited on a group of 118 small islands separated by canals and linked by bridges is known for its boats, lagoon which stretches along the shoreline between the mouths of the Po and the Piave Rivers.   The ship is of the class which have been awarded the prestigious Six Golden Pearls award by the international classification society Bureau Veritas. Six Golden Pearls is an integrated voluntary programme that certifies corporate compliance with the three highest international standards in the areas of environment, health and safety  and food safety.

The Specifications of the vessel are :  139400 GRT;  Length / Beam / Height - 333,30 m / 37,92 m post panamax / 66,80 m.  Has 26 lifts ; has an exclusive  Yacht club; can accommodate 3502 passengers with 1751 cabins of which 45 are for specially made for people with disabilities; has crew strength about 1370 – 4 pools including 1 with sliding roof – a real dream resort for those who can afford it.  It is ‘MSC Divina’.

Remember the ill-fated MS Costa Concordia – the cruise ship operated by Costa Crociere (a subsidiary of Carnival Corporation).  The name Concordia was intended to express the wish for "continuing harmony, unity, and peace between European nations.  When it entered service, it was  among the largest ships built in Italy.  On 13 January 2012 in calm seas and overcast weather, under command of Captain Francesco Schettino, Costa Concordia struck a rock in the Tyrrhenian Sea just off the eastern shore of Isola del Giglio, off the western coast of Italy, which almost immediately flooded parts of the engine room and caused loss of power to her propulsion and electrical systems. Despite the gradual sinking of the ship, its complete loss of power, and its proximity to shore in calm seas, an order to abandon ship was not issued until over an hour after the initial impact. Although international maritime law requires all passengers to be evacuated within 30 minutes of an order to abandon ship, the evacuation of Costa Concordia took over six hours and not all passengers were evacuated. Of the 3,229 passengers and 1,023 crew known to have been aboard, two are missing and 32 are confirmed dead. It was a disaster.

The vessel that was described in the earlier paras, MSC Divina is Fantasia-class cruise ship owned and operated by MSC Cruises. She entered service in May 2012. The ship is an enhanced version of her running mates, MSC Splendida and MSC Fantasia.  The ship is 333.3 meters in length and is 38 meters in width. It can travel at a speed of up to 23.7 knots (43.9 km/h; 27.3 mph). With 1739 staterooms, she has more than 100 additional staterooms compared to her two sister ships. The exclusive MSC Yacht Club has been enlarged and redesigned and features many improvements. MSC Divina also features various improvements in order to keep guests entertained. These include the new "4D" cinema along with a Formula 1 simulator.

With all its luxuries, Divina should only be a hit wherever she visits but the monster ship is facing furious protesters at Venice, as they call for ban on huge cruise liner which carries 4,500 people.  MSC Divina is the biggest ever liner to enter Venice but  saw protesters waving 'No Big Ship' banners.  After the accident of  Costa Concordia,  wreck environmentalists have stepped up efforts to have large cruise ships banned from the lagoon city.  The campaigners  claimed that the ship blocked views and polluted the air.  The protesters, who belong to the No Big Ships Venice Committee have written an open letter to Ms Loren calling on her to ditch her endorsement of the monster ship.

The earlier disaster of Costa Concordia, has put the spotlight on the Venice lagoon, one of Italy's most delicate maritime area.  Big cruise ships enter the city to drop off passengers conveniently close to the historic centre and the Grand Canal. The letter to Ms Loren said the big ships pollute the air and their vibrations and the lapping waves caused by the wakes of their passage hurt the foundations of historic palaces and churches.  Italia Nostra (Our Italy), the country's leading conservation group has also long been opposing the entry of large cruise ships into the lagoon.  The protesters further claim that the pollution contains 15 times as much sulpher as car fumes. That's why we want this huge vessel banned from the lagoon.

With regards – S. Sampathkumar
With inputs on protest and vessel photos  from

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