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Amsterdam votes to ban cruise ships

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Amsterdam has already warned rowdy tourists to stay away and cracked down on smoking weed in the streets of its famed Red Light District. Now, city leaders are targeting what they see as another scourge: giant cruise ships, which dock at a terminal near the center of the Dutch capital.

Political party D66 Amsterdam said Thursday its proposal to relocate the terminal, effectively blocking cruise ships from the city, had been adopted by a large majority of the city council. An announcement said the proposal is meant to address concerns around air pollution emitted by ships and the crush of tourists who pour into the city during port visits.

Anouk Panman, a spokesperson for deputy mayor Hester van Buren, confirmed in an email Friday the city council had adopted the motion. “The municipality of Amsterdam is going to investigate how this proposal can be implemented,” she wrote.

Panman said the proposal still has to be discussed with partners in the North Sea Canal area.

“This will take some time, so at the moment we cannot give any details on how or when the proposal will be implemented,” she wrote.

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Dick de Graaff, director of the operator of the cruise terminal, told the Associated Press that 114 ships were expected to stop there this year, with 130 forecast for next year. He said Cruise Port Amsterdam was waiting to see what the city would do next but was not immediately closing the terminal.

The move comes amid a years-long effort to address the impact of overtourism in Amsterdam and follows a broader outcry over crowding from popular cruise destinations in Europe and elsewhere.

In 2021, Italy’s government said large cruise ships would no longer be allowed to sail directly into Venice. Dubrovnik, in Croatia, took steps several years ago to limit the number of cruise passengers visiting at once. And residents of Key West voted to ban giant ships in late 2020 — though that vote was overturned the following year.

The Cruise Lines International Association said in a statement that while the industry group was aware of reports about the future of cruising in Amsterdam, there was no ban in effect. The statement said the port and passenger terminal had already pledged to invest millions in infrastructure and shore-based electricity for future use.

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The trade group said about 1 percent of Amsterdam’s visitors arrive by cruise ship every year and noted that cruise tourism contributes about 105 million euros to the city every year.

“There have been discussions on its relocation outside the city centre which started back in 2016 and which are still ongoing,” the statement said. “We are working with the authorities to accommodate the views expressed by Council members while continuing to support the communities that benefit from cruise tourism.”

CLIA also addressed the pollution concerns, noting that operators are working to reduce emissions at sea and in port.

“Although sustainable marine fuels and technologies are not yet available at scale, cruise lines are addressing these challenges with significant investments and innovative approaches,” the statement said.

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