Tom Stieghorst
Tom Stieghorst

Before a recent trip to Venice, I had a conversation with my brother who expressed some surprise at the trip.

My brother is not an international traveler and doesn't cruise. But he said if he did cruise in Europe he wouldn't go to Venice, because it is too crowded with all the other cruise passengers going there. He'd go someplace else if he were me. And also, he'd heard that cruise ships were going to be banned from going to Venice.

I didn't know where to start. His information was not entirely wrong, but it was certainly wrong in the details.

Cruise ships aren't banned and probably never will be. They may be rerouted, and the rerouting may only apply to larger ships. At times, Venice is overrun by day tourists of all sorts, but not just by cruise passengers.

I imagine that a lot of travel advisors talk with clients or prospective clients with this level of information about a destination or topic. They know something that they've read or seen in the news or on Facebook. The report may be wrong to start with. And then their memory of what they read or saw comes into play.

The regulation of cruise traffic in Venice has been an ongoing story since I started with Travel Weekly seven years ago. The process has been anything but clear, the decisions subject to various actions at various levels of Italian government, and there has been backtracking or sidetracking on some of those decisions.

Who could blame my brother for not keeping up? I can barely keep up.

The latest, I said, was that there will be a tax of some sort levied on day travelers to Venice starting in July. With details yet to come.

Will the confusion lead to fewer feet tramping the stones of Venice?  Or will Venice eventually earn the reputation encapsulated in the famous Yogi Berra quote: "No one goes there anymore; it's too crowded."

In a world of expanding global tourism, I rather doubt it. I was there in mid-October during the week, and the hot spots around the Rialto Bridge and Piazza San Marco were uncomfortably jammed.

On the other hand, I spent a lot of time in Cannaregio and Dorsoduro, two Venetian neighborhoods that don't draw as many visitors. My daughter came to visit me for a few days, and we were able to get into some pretty nice restaurants in Cannaregio and take an evening walk down the Rio Della Sensa canal until there was no one else in sight.

It would have taken more time and trouble than I had to run through this all with my brother, so I just reassured him it was going to be fine. Hopefully, most agents have clients who are willing to extend the same level of trust in accepting recommendations about places they've heard about in the news.

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