Shore Excursion and Port Information
Just One of the Many Canals in Venice
Language and Currency
What is Venice Like?
What is the Weather Like?
Where Does the Ship Dock?
Where is the Shopping?
What is There to Buy?
What is There To Do?
Is There Anything of a “Don’t Miss Quality?
Are There Any Great Restaurants or Bars?
A valid passport is required but no visa is required for stays under 90 days
A View of Venice as a Ship Leaves
The official language of Venice is Italian, but many of the residents speak at least a modicum of English. Venice has accepted the euro as its official currency and very few establishments accept the US dollar at this time.
The Grand Canal in Venice
Venice light and water combine to create magic! This romantic city is a labyrinth of waterways, walkways, small squares and narrow streets. Comprised of 115 islands of the Venetian Lagoon, it is a mesmerizing maze of 150 canals and over 400 bridges. Palatial marble homes cling to the water’s edge along the Grand Canal, the main artery that runs from one end of the city to the other. Museums and public buildings offer a glimpse of the rich Venetian history, architectural wonders abound, quaint cafes line the walkways and shopping opportunities are endless.
Fabulous Saint Marks Square
Classical musicians perform outdoors, providing an enchanting background for the numerous pedestrians and overstuffed pigeons that share the open space of Piazza San Marco, the focal point of the city. Venice is definitely like no other city on earth and all of its nooks and crannies beg to be explored. From gold mosaics glistening in the sunlight to gondoliers weaving their way through the tiny canals, strolling the streets of Venice is a highpoint of any visit to Italy. Be aware, however, for all its beauty and charm, Venice can be very expensive.
The Grand Canal in Venice, Italy
Venice enjoys a temperate Mediterranean climate with hot summers and mild winters. Spring and early summer are the very best times to visit. Although Italy is known for its relatively dry climate, when it does rain the streets of Venice can occasionally flood since the canal and walkways are virtually at the same water level. In fact, the city is actually sinking at an alarming rate and measures are being taken to try to stem the tide, so to speak. October through March is their flooding season and many hotels provide boots for guests to navigate the streets.
Maritime Port, Venice, Italy
Ships dock at the Maritima Port. Although it is within walking distance of Piazzoli Roma, most cruise ships offer a free shuttle boat service from the pier to “Giardinetti” pontoon, approximately 100 yards from San Marco Square. If you have chosen to spend a few days pre-cruise in Venice, be advised that the only way to reach the pier is by water transportation. Although public transportation is available, I strongly urge you to spend the extra money and engage a private water taxi to deliver you directly to the port. I would give you this same advice for a trip from the airport into the city of Venice. The streets of Venice are enchanting, but dragging your luggage up and down the bridges and narrow walkways to get to the points of public transportation can be a grueling and undaunting task.
The easiest way to get from the airport to the ship is to take a taxi right from the entrance to the airport. Currently (9/05) the taxi fare is 35 euros including luggage and takes about 30 to 40 minutes (depending on traffic)
The main shopping area runs from Piazza San Marco to the Rialto area along the Mercerie and nearby Calle dei Fabbri. Grander, more upscale shops line the area from the Piazza to the Accademia Bridge.
Shopping at the Foot of the Rialto Bridge
The best place to shop for souvenirs and gifts is just north of Campo Santa Stefano. You will find a lot of shopping on just about any major walk street on the island.
Venice is a shopper’s paradise. Everything from high fashion designs such as, Armani, Gucci, Prada and Versace to antiques, Murano glassware, Venetian masks, leather goods, traditional Venetian slippers and jewelry can be found in the streets of Venice.
St. Marks Basilica
Ahhh! There is so much to see and do here that one day in port is not nearly long enough. Since this is often a city of embarkation or disembarkation, allow yourself a few extra days to explore. I could easily spend a week here. Perhaps the best place to start is at Piazza San Marco, often called the “most beautiful drawing room in all of Europe.”
From this point you can visit the Bell and Clock Tower, St. Mark’s Basilica and Palazzo Ducale (Doge’s Palace). St. Mark’s Basilica, built in the 11th century, holds the relics of St. Mark the Evangelist. The Doge’s Palace is a combination White House, Senate, Supreme Court, torture chamber and prison. If you have the time, schedule one of the “Secret Itinerary Tours”.
The Doge Palace "Bridge of Sighs"
From there you can pass by the Bridge of Sighs which connects the Palazzo Ducale to the old prison.
Doge Palace and the Bridge of Sighs
It derives its name from the prisoners who passed through it on the way to the prison cells who would most likely get one last glimpse of their beloved city and freedom before they were incarcerated or executed.
Climb to the top of the Bell Rower in St. Mark's Square for a view of all of Venice. Note that there is a charge for the privilege.
The Grand Canal's Rialto Bridge
Visit the Rialto Bridge and neighboring open-air markets, the Jewish Ghetto or one of the exceptional museums. The Galleria dell’Accademia, the Guggenheim Collection located in the Palazzo Venier dei Leoni and the Museo Correr (City Museum of Art and Venetian History) are the most popular.
Venice as Seen From a Gondola Ride
Stroll the streets of Venice, linger at a sidewalk café, enjoy an Italian ice or pizza, definitely treat yourself to a gondola ride, watch the pigeons and pedestrians in St. Marks Square and indulge in a bellini at Harry’s Bar.
Murano Glass Shopping Canal
Outside Venice visit the neighboring islands of Murano (see the special report on Murano), Torcello and Lido. Murano is world famous for its glassmaking factory. Torcello is an island in the Venetian lagoon where the main attraction is the Cathedral of Santa Maria featuring Byzantine mosaics.
The Lido (Beach) in Venice
Lido is the beach resort island.
Lido Sidewalk Cafes
Here sidewalk cafes, a lengthy beach promenade and a quiet laidback ambiance await the visitor.
The Grand Canal with a Gondola in the Foreground
I don’t think a trip to Venice would be complete if you did not indulge in a gondola ride. Nighttime is by far the best! Also, take time just to wander the walkways of this enchanting city and savor the intoxicating atmosphere.
Vino Vino, Venice, Italy
Yes, for an excellent selection of Italian wines at outstanding prices and to sample typical Venetian cuisine and snacks, there is no better place than Vino Vino Wine Bar. Located between Santa Maria del Giglio canal and Piazza San Marco on Calle Veste, they offer wine by the glass or bottle. Take away service is available, as is a small dining area. Also, for a most memorable meal, very reasonably priced, try La Madonna near the Rialto Bridge. Truly outstanding! (Reservations are strongly recommended).
Freshly Made Bellinis at Harry's Bar
Of course, no visit to Venice would be complete without checking out world famous Harry's Bar. This is where the Bellini was created. We stopped and had one on our last visit and they were only 11 euro each....ouch!
see the special report on Murano,
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