Global cruise lines are digesting the implications of plans to limited the number of large ships allowed to pass through the centre of Venice.

The Italian government announced its intention to impose limitations from January with a 20% cut, while cruise ships of more than 96,000 tonnes will be banned from the centre of the historic city from November 2014.

Prime Minister Enrico Letta’s office also announced plans to open up a new canal to the city to allow big vessels to enter the city by an alternative route, as previously reported by Travel Weekly.

The Cruise Lines International Association (Clia) yesterday attempted to view the decision in a positive light despite the likely impact on member lines which see Venice as a highlight of many Mediterranean itineraries.

Clia said it viewed the announcement from Rome as a “positive on-going commitment of the representatives of the Italian institutions to find a sustainable and long-term solution for the city of Venice. This goal is shared by the cruise industry”.

However, the organisation added: “We are in the process of determining the impact of the decision, and any estimation or evaluation at this time is premature.

“Venice is consistently rated as the number one European cruise destination for our industry and we look forward to further strengthening our role as a key contributor to the economic vitality of Venice.”

Environmentalists have long protested against giant cruise ships passing through Venice, arguing that they damage the city’s fragile lagoon.