Please Note: Recently the port of Venice has been closed to larger cruise ships so if your cruise itinerary includes Venice the ship will likely dock in either Ravenna (Royal Caribbean & Celebrity) or Trieste (Holland & Princess). More on this change below.
There Will Always Be Venice
Venice remains one of the most popular travel destinations in the Mediterranean. Cruise ships regularly scheduled over-night stays in the port and now with the port changes many cruise itineraries will be providing overnight options in hotels.
This is an island city criss-crossed canals and is home to the iconic gondola. If you are planning your first Mediterranean visit or cruise we would still strongly recommend you selecting an itinerary that includes this marvelous city.
Where Smaller Ships Dock
Smaller cruise ships will dock primarily at the cruise terminal of Venice called Venezia Terminali Passeggeri. The piers are located just to the southwest of the northern entrance to The Grand Canal and to the west of Piazzale Roma. Many piers are equipped with terminals that offer facilities and some shops.
The main city is an island cut in half by The Grand Canal which acts as a sort of waterway main street. The heart of the city is centered around St. Marks Square (Piazza San Marco) which is the most popular destination for visitors.
Small boats for touring around the lagoon dock along Riva degli Schiavoni which is just east of St. Marks Square in front of the Doge’s Palace. Tours start at $25. From Piazza Roma, you also catch a water bus (vaporetto) on either Line 1 or Line 2 along the length of the Grand Canal to St Mark’s for about $12. Venice was built in the 5th century and is noted for art and architecture along with the iconic canals separating 118 small islands making up the metropolitan area.
Venice is a very walkable city and while the streets seem to zigzag throughout the city it is isn’t difficult to keep your bearings. Numerous directional signs will point the way to major destinations like the Rialto Bridge, which is one of two bridges across the The Grand Canal with additional markers pointing the way to St. Marks Square. The other bridge across The Grand Canal is a footbridge called the Ponte dell’ Accademia located farther south from the Rialto.
Italy uses the Euro and US Dollars are not readily accepted but most major credit cards are. You will also see a number of ATMs.
Just strolling thru this remarkable city is the main attraction with its interesting neighborhoods, historic architecture, famous upscale shopping streets, open-air marketplaces and an endless assortment of incredible restaurants and cafes. Several trades have made Venice famous like mask making shops, art glass and art galleries. And of course there’s the annual Carnival.
A few of the more notable mask shops are Atelier Marega, Calle del Scaleter, 2940/B, Tragicomica, Calle dei Nomboli, 2800, Carta Alta Venetian Masks, Sestiere Giudecca, 796, Venice Masks by Alberto Sarria, San Polo 777, and Atelier Flavia, Sestiere Castello, 6010. The glass factories of Venice of which the most famous is Murano Glass Works are located on Murano Island, which is actually a series of islands linked by bridges in the Venetian Lagoon which can be reached by ferries.
Guided 2 Hour Walking Tour of Venice. Don’t waste time getting lost amid bridges and crowds but instead explore with a guide to discover the highlights and history in minimal time. Includes the Rialto Bridge , St. Marks Square and the Basilica of Santi Giovanni e Paolo.
Murano, Burano and Torcello Sightseeing Tour. This sightseeing tour allows you to see three islands in the Venetian Lagoon in half a day. Visitors often visit Murano—well-known for its glass-blowing.
Skip the Line and Venice Walking Tour with St Mark’s Basilica. Discover the awe-inspiring St. Mark’s Basilica in Venice without the headache of long lines. Head to the front of the queue with your expert guide.
A Classic 30-Minute Gondola Ride (Average $40). Take a classic guided gondola ride along the Grand Canal and watch the sights of this incredible city glide by.
Cruise Ships & Venice
For years there have been groups and organizations protesting what many claim could be serious damage to the buildings and canals of the water city caused by the large cruise ships. This has been countered by other groups that believe that the city receives substantial revenues from the cruise lines for dockage fees tp passenger spending. Even with the results of two major studies finding that the damage caused by frequent storms is a much more serious threat than modern cruise ships the United Nations and its World Heritage arm still threw their weight against the cruise ships. Unfortunately the controversy surrounding the docking of large cruise ships in Venice has now been settled – Cruise ships above certain sizes (about 90%) are now banned from entering the Venice Lagoon.
In response the cruise lines are setting up alternate ports that will still allow their passengers access to spend time in Venice. They are also providing other ports to replace Venice as a departure port. The two nearest ports with adequate docking are Ravenna and Trieste and for the time being the cruise lines seem to be selecting between the two. For example Royal Caribbean and Celebrity are focusing on Ravenna while NCL will be using Trieste.
As you explore itineraries you’ll find a number of ships are staying overnight to allow plenty of time to visit Venice. Using buses Trieste is about a little over two hours to Venice (135 miles) with the Ravenna trip coming in between one and half to under two hours (105 miles). Another option that is also gaining traction is taking advantage of overnight hotel accommodations in Venice during your port stay.
If you are inclined to visit Venice on your own there are a number of affordable options to explore with bus service still topping the list:
Trieste to Venice
FlixBus operates a bus from Trieste to Venice that leaves every 4 hours. Tickets cost $12 to $15 (€10 – €13) and takes about 2 hours. Itabus also has service 5 times a day. By rail Trenitalia operates a train from Trieste Centrale to Venezia S. Lucia every hour. Tickets cost $12 to $24 (€10 – €21) depending on seat class and the trains take 2 hours and 5 minutes.
Ravenna to Venice
The best way to go to Venice from Ravenna is by bus, which costs about $10 (€9). The train to Venice, costs about $17 (€15) with trains about every hour. By bus or train the trip takes about 2 hours and 45 minutes to 3 hours with the bus being slightly faster but with less frequent service than the trains.