Take a ride on a Gondola
Cruises to Venice can involve a very spectacular sail in, whatever the time of day, but there is something quite special about a sail past St Mark’s Square in the early morning light.
It’s worth setting your alarm that extra bit early to ensure that you are out on deck.
It’s not for everyone though. On our very first cruise we arrived in Venice mid-afternoon under grey skies and no matter how hard we tried to persuade him otherwise, our son refused to leave the windowless Children’s Club where he was happily engaged in his first ever dissection of a squid!
Check out Cunard’s Queen Victoria Sailing into Venice
Currently cruises to Venice dock at the main port (see map below), but you will probably want to start your visit at St Mark’s Square (San Marco).
Check out which cruise ships are in Venice today and where your ship is likely to moor up.
Excursions to Venice will usually involve a boat ride direct from the ship, with most cruise lines also offering a boat transfer which will drop off and pick up at St Mark’s Square for a basic price.
A similarly priced alternative is to use the water taxis or Vaporetto to get to the Square which will take you via The Grand Canal, avoiding the need to pay for an extra boat trip along there later.
As an added bonus a day pass ticket will allow you to hop on and off all day.
The Vaporetto ticket office is about a 30 minute walk from the where the cruise ships dock in Venice (see map below).
A Peoplemover Tram will now take you part of this way for a small price (1 euro each way – tickets are purchased at automatic machines at each station). The tram stations are marked on the map below, there are two stations (Tronchetto and Marittima) inside the port area and a stop at Piazzale Roma.
After leaving the tram stop, walk across Piazzale Roma following signs to the Railway Station, you will find the ticket offices for the ACTV Vaporetto.
This is another port where an early start from the ship is vital. Your reward will be a seat on an early morning No. 1 or 2 Vaporetto as it travels along the relatively quiet and peaceful Grand Canal at the start of a busy day. You should also get a good place near the front of the queue to see the attraction of your choice in St Mark’s Square. Further information on Vaporetto routes and timetables can be found on the ACTV website.
Once in the centre you can choose to visit:
The Doge’s Palace which is one of the main landmarks of Venice and has been the residence of the Doge of Venice, the seat of the government controlling Venice, for many centuries. The Palace is open for visitors each day from 8.30am.
As you progress through each of the rooms the paintings and decor become more and more amazing. The visit also includes the Prison which is reached over the Bridge of Sighs.
St Mark’s Basilica and Campanile are both in the Piazza San Marco adjacent to the Doge’s Palace. St Mark’s Basilica is one of the best known examples of Byzantine architecture.
The Campanile tower is 98m (323 ft) tall, there are great views of the whole of Venice and the surrounding bays.
Travel by vaporetto to one of the other islands e.g. Murano (famous for its hand blown glass) or Burano (famous for its lace work).
Its personal choice whether you decide to splash out on one of these.
Venice is a delightful city to stroll around and canal journeys can be made much more cheaply by waterbus.
But if a Gondola ride is on your ‘must do’ list then consider booking a shared gondola via your ship.