This World Heritage city is just about the perfect cruise call because everything you want to see is so easily accessible whether the ship docks just down from St Marks Square or further up the Grand Canal at the main Venice cruise terminal complex.
Cars are banned from the maze of narrow cobbled streets and 500 historic bridges within the city centre so there are just the two choices for getting around: the vaporetto (water-bus) network or just plain walking. A gondola ride is really for fun and romance rather than transportation.
Start walking from St Marks Square, with its ancient Basilica, lavish Doges Palace and imposing bell tower, then follow signs for the shop-lined Rialto Bridge and the Bridge of Sighs. But wherever you walk, there are intriguing arty shops, museums and galleries plus some tasty cafés and restaurants along the way.
One thing about Venice, make sure you get up early, about 6:45am, to see the sail in, for many it is one of the best. For those in the know a balcony cabin on the starboard side is great for the sail in, so maybe a breakfast in the room is called for.
If you get a nice sunny early morning it can be beautiful, but it is quite a long run in and it is best to see it all if you can. The evening sail out can be nice too. You get to see the outer islands of the lagoon
Now a good place to start planning your visit is here; http://europeforvisitors.com/venice/articles/vi-index.htm
If you are using a smartphone on a slow or expensive connection, try here; http://europeforvisitors.com/venice/mobile/
The ship will dock on the northwest side of Venice, a little way from St. Mark’s (the centre), near to Piazzale Roma, but it’s easy to get there from the terminal. You can either go on the organised transport from the ship or you can DIY.
Normally you berth roughly where P2 is. From there you either take your ships tour from a little Jetty or make your own way into the centre.
The excursions go from the little Jetty.
I would add, smaller ships sometimes dock at San Basilio which is not near the people mover but close to several vaporetto lines
Ways to the centre:
P&O operated their own water shuttle service to St Mark’s Square.
The P&O Shuttle from a little Jetty to the pontoon just beyond St Mark’s Square costs £16pp for one day or £30pp for two days (2017) unlimited use. You buy your ticket on board & it is charged to your account. The advantage is they are regular and fast as only go from ship to pier.
There is also the Vaporettos (water buses) run from there frequently. Best to buy an all-day water bus ticket for €18 (2013) and just hop on and off the vaporetto when you want.
You could pre buy vaporetto day tickets online; take the mono rail to the Piazza Roma, and then the vaporetto down the Grand Canal to St Mark’s Square. Walked back to the Rialto Bridge and then take the vaporetto back the way you had come in.
One way is to get the ‘People Mover’ from the port to the Piazzale Roma – from here it is easy to get the Number 1 vaporetto which goes from here to Lido, along the Grand Canal passing under the Rialto Bridge and then across the lagoon to the much quieter and very relaxing Lido, where there are quiet coffee shops and a beach.
Come back on the Number 1 vaporetto and then get off at Rialto Bridge, or Accademia and following the high level signs, it is easy to find your way back amongst the alley ways to the Piazzale Roma to get the People Mover back to the port.
There is also the People Mover that goes to Piazzale Roma and costs €1.50 each way.
As you come out of the cruise terminal there is a small tobacconist shop where you can buy the mover and water bus tickets and then by pass the massive queues at the people mover ticket machines.. It gets you to the Piazza Roma, from here you can get the water bus to St Marks or better you can walk over the new bridge, it’s an easy walk in passing the Rialto Bridge. The fare is cheap, the ride is quick, and the system meets modern accessibility standards.
Short video on People Mover: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=g9ZyUw5SXbA
There is an HOHO Boat, again close to the ship.
This will show you the stops.
This is the same company as you see in the U.K., the red open topped buses. A 24 hour hop on hop off ticket will cost you €20 but it will take you to a lot more places, including Murano for the glass, and a bit nearer to St Marks. They are slower though as it’s a sightseeing boat rather than a shuttle, so you need to leave enough time for the route to take you back to the ship.
Just one word of caution with option with the HOHO. If you are on it around lunchtime the operators have their break, so you can be left ‘shipwrecked’ for about an hour. Just bear in mind there is a timetable they operate too so you may want to check that out first.
If you are feeling up for it you can also walk, about 40 mins stroll. It is a lovely wander past shops cafes and market stalls, you get to see the real Venice not just St Mark’s square. It is really not far you can take your time window shopping and stopping for fresh fruit smoothy on route.
The P&O waterbus shuttle does not go down the Grand Canal, which is one of the “must do” things in Venice. The Vaporetto (waterbus) is better value as you then can go all over Venice.
The café in the museum on St Mark’s Square is not expensive and has wonderful views across the square.
A gondola ride. The city of Venice sets official rates for gondola rides, which started at €80 for 40 minutes. Additional 20-minute increments are €40. After 7 p.m., the base rate climbs to €100, with €50 for an additional 20 minutes. Up to six people can share a gondola.
If you need to use the public toilets they are €1.50 and had a coin operated turnstile so make sure you have a bit of change on you.
If you are looking for somewhere to eat then Restorante Terrazzo, is recommended. It is on the Giudecca Canal. The quickest way to get there is from Piazza Roma get the No51 Vaporetto then get of at the Stop called Zattere, the Restaurant is then on your Left. Alternatitively, from St Marks Square walk to the Academia Bridge, go over the bridge and keep walking straight on untill you get to the Giudecca Canal, you will then see the restaurant on stilts over the water. The food is fantastic and it is not expensive.
By Peter Dagnall
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