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Tom Sheridan's Port Guides

Venice

By Thomas Sheridan

It's difficult to find the location of the cruise ship dock relative to tourist sites and public transit. The solution is to create maps and combine them with photos, public transit routes, and links to the best websites. Tom's website, www.TomsPortGuides.com is uniquely useful for self-guided touring from a cruise port. And it's FREE.


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In most cities, we expect cabs to drop us off in front of our hotel, and porters will carry our bags. Venice poses unique travel problems because there is no cab service, and hotels do not have porters. Imagine a city where streets are replaced by canals and there’s a bridge at every intersection. Are you prepared to walk down narrow, crowded streets dragging heavy suitcases and going up and down the steps to cross bridges to your hotel? How far are you willing to walk and how many of the 460 pedestrian bridges in Venice will you have to cross getting to your hotel?

Before you book a hotel in Venice, consider the logistics of travel between the airport, train station, cruise ship, and your hotel. There are several islands in the Venice area, the main island is 1.2 miles wide and 2.4 miles long with many bridges.

Consider travel between the Venice Marco Polo Airport on the mainland and three specific locations on the island of Venice, namely:

  • Bacino Stazione Marittime cruise port
  • Piazzale Roma square, the only bus and cab station on Venice island
  • Venezia Santa Lucia, the only train station on Venice island

Travel between the airport or train station to/from the cruise port:

  • Take a cab from the airport to the cruise port, drop your luggage and walk to the cruise terminal. Cabs can be pricey.
  • Take a bus from the airport to Piazzale Roma square and ride the People Mover monorail one stop to the cruise port. Walk about 1000 feet on a flat walkway to the cruise terminal. There are cabs at Piazzale Roma, but they will not take you the short distance to the ship because they are waiting for more expensive and profitable fares to the mainland.
  • If you arrive on Venice island at Santa Lucia Train Station, you’ll find there are NO buses or cabs at the station. You have to drag your luggage across the 250 foot long Ponte della Costituzione (Constitution Bridge) to Piazzale Roma and take the People Mover to the port. There are many steps on the bridge.

Travel to/from Venice island hotels:

Unless your hotel is within a short walk of Piazzale Roma square or Santa Lucia train station, you’ll need a combination of a boat ride plus walking to get to the hotel. There are four different types of boat services in Venice:

  • Alilaguna is the boat line designed for transport with luggage from the airport to the islands. However, these boats only stop at thirteen locations on four islands. Pick a hotel close to one of the boat stops to avoid walking a long distance over many bridges with your luggage.
  • If the Alilaguna stop is not convenient to your hotel, you could use a private water taxi, but they can be very expensive, over a hundred dollars!
  • Vaporreto or vaporreti (plural) are public water buses. They are not designed for luggage. You are restricted to one small suitcase. More importantly, it’s difficult to find a place to stand with your luggage on vaporetti because they are always crowded. Also, no one will help you with your luggage, and you are expected to step on/off the boat quickly and climb down a narrow set of stairs. This can be difficult on a crowded boat that has standing room only.
  • Your hotel may provide a private boat.

Travel between your hotel on the island and the cruise port:

The cruise port is a secure area; you won’t find many small boats near the ship. My friends booked a small boat to take them from the ship to their hotel. They had problems with their heavy luggage in the cruise port because there are no porters and they had difficulty finding the small boat. “You can’t get there from here” is a complaint of travelers with heavy luggage going to/from Venice hotels.

Before you book a hotel, get precise details on route, method, and travel cost between the airport, cruise terminal, and hotel. For me, the simple solution with our two 50 lb suitcases is to stay on the mainland at Hotel Tritone in Mestre, across from the train station. This location offers the convenience of low cost, bus transit from the airport and direct cab service to the cruise terminal. The hotel is just ten minutes away from Venice via trains that run every 15 minutes with a 1.5 euro fare. You can spend all day on the islands, have an evening dinner in Venice, and catch a late train to Mestre station across the street from the hotel. It’s not only convenient, it’s less expensive than a hotel in Venice. For complete details and maps on travel in Venice, see my FREE port guide at www.TomsPortGuides.com.

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