Green Travel Magzine

canal blue sky white clouds italy venice colorful houses blue boats

Classic Boats Venice: The Premier Sustainable Way to See the True Venice from the Water

Venice is an iconic city in Northeastern Italy, situated amongst a group of 118 small islands in a shallow lagoon connected by canals and bridges. It’s no wonder Venice has several monikers, such as “City of Canals,” “City of Water,” and “The Floating City,” that articulate the unique architecture of one of the most beautiful cities in the world. It’s a testament to human ingenuity and the spirit of invention. Just like the city they hail within, Classic Boats Venice operates with the utmost adaption and intention for the people and city they serve. 

Who Are They?

Classic Boats Venice is a lagoon adventure experience, taking tourists through the canals of the city to witness the essence of one of the world’s premier destinations. Quite simply, they use boats to deliver the experience of seeing Venice from the waterways. Classic Boats Venice, or CBV, is an extraordinary trip that knows the quality of people is primary. They know that we as a collective people must be good to each other. Jean Paul Morselli, director of CBV, holds these sentiments close to his heart, believing that, “karma will set you right.” In conjunction, we as people need to be good to the environments and cities we reside and play in, and CBV does everything and anything to live this out.

classic boats Venice Italy sustainable tourism travel canals
Source: Classic Boats Venice

Not Your Average Boat

Classic Boats Venice offers solo tours with classic Venetian boats, and guided tours aboard vintage boats with a captain. All of their solo tour boats are equipped with electric engines, and the engine batteries are guaranteed to be non-conflict – sourced responsibly from non-exploitative providers. They ensure that the battery powering their boat does not support unethical mining and employment practices. Every piece of their boats are made locally, while also recycling old boats that are no longer in use. Old boats that would otherwise be seeing the scrapyard or inevitable decay are revived in order to see the water once again. More so, CBV has studied different boat shapes to find the most fuel-efficient version for their operation! 

You’ll be pleased to note that you won’t find any plastic being used, as they have a no-plastic policy. Each year, they reinforce this commitment by participating in a massive lagoon cleanup where roughly 2.1 tons of plastic are removed from the waterways. Big boat tours have a large plastic problem that CBV noticed and changed for their own operation, going as far as to bring a net on all of their boats so any floating waste can easily be scooped up. As an extra incentive, if tourists pick up any waste, they’ll get a free bottle of wine for helping keep the lagoon clean! 

The largest pollutant in the lagoon is petrol fuel from gas-powered boat engines. As Classic Boats Venice looks to improve their already inspiring sustainability efforts, all boats are undergoing a hydrogen power transition. Their engines will be hydrogen fueled rather than electric or gasoline powered, meaning the only emissions will be water vapor. As they strive to become more carbon-neutral, they make sure to maintain the engines on the larger, older boats which can’t be run on hybrid engines. Maintenance includes regularly cleaning engine filters, using cleaner fuel, and recycling old engines. For the future, they’re studying cleaner, synthetic fuel compatibility with older engines. CBV’s progressive attitude continues to impress and inspire tourists and businesses alike! Better yet, CBV owns this technology and are actively spreading it throughout Europe to businesses who are improving their own sustainability efforts.

classic boats Venice Italy sustainable tourism travel canals
Source: Dan Novac

Mitigating Impact 

All of the non-electric boat traffic confuses the currents from increased wave volume and frequency, disturbing sea life while eroding already heavily impacted coastlines. Using electric engines reduces wave volume by 80%, greatly lessening tourism’s impact on habitats for the non-human residents of Venice. They test the water in the lagoon every year to maintain its health and longevity for the people and wildlife of their great city. 

The island they reside on is run entirely on solar power and it’s known as Venice’s ‘Green Island’ due to their collective efforts to be so adamant on their sustainability journey. Classic Boats Venice works directly with the island on waste management, ensuring that everything is being reused and properly disposed of and not entering the water they work tirelessly to keep healthy and clean.  

Although they push for sustainability, they pride themselves on being a business in joy. Making their clients feel like they’re not just a product is pivotal to their mission. In conversation with Jean-Paul he said, “our goal is to make every customer happier than when they first came to Venice, while seeing Venice in a sustainable way. We always say we are in the happiness business.”

What Makes Their Tours Special?

As a city, Venice is typically flowing with tourists. On the tours however, you can expect to get a reality check from tourist idealizations, and see the city from the local perspective. You’ll see only Venetians as the captains take you beyond the realm of tourists. With heavy tourists comes an abundance of negative impacts, like waste production, pollution, and disruption from tourists overrunning the city. Where some experiences aim to get as many people through their doors as possible regardless of a guest’s experience, Classic Boats Venice does just the opposite. In order to understand a place, to really get an authentic feel for it, you can’t be rushed with firm time restrictions, routine routes, and following the status quo. The crew at CBV uses their boat tours to inform tourists of tourism’s negative impact and how to counteract it. CBV lives all of that out and more in their operation, allowing guests to stop and stare rather than plow through the intricate artistry that decorates the aisles of buildings lining the lagoon.

Classic Boats Venice is a truly influential and inspiring company in our ever-evolving world. As a city already experiencing the effects of  climate change in their daily lives, CBV positively impacts Venice as a business that isn’t obsessed with maximizing profit, but prioritizing the happiness of their guests, their city, and their environment.  

ecomadic is a sustainable tourism brand that empowers travelers to make more conscious decisions. By curating a marketplace to easily find and identify responsible businesses to support, and providing educational publications through our online green travel magazine, ecomadic is committed to helping empower travelers make responsible choices throughout their journeys.

Want to learn more?

The Lagoon Adventure – Classic Boats Venice


Henry Rohmer
Henry Rohmer is a student hailing from Milwaukee, Wisconsin but currently living and writing in Tacoma, Washington. He studied English and Environmental Policy and Decision Making at the University of Puget Sound and enjoys outdoor recreation, winter sports, and urban exploring, and traveling to new places.