There’s not much more to say about this iconic view in Venice. Simply amazing.
Getting around between the Venice cruise port, Santa Lucia train station, airport and hotel.
Gondolas and canals. Romance and intrigue. Venice has it all. To view this magical place from the deck of a cruise ship as you enter or leave Venice, is a special moment and a unique experience.
Try to spend at least two days before or after your cruise in Venice. Most people fly directly to Venice. Or like me, spend a night or two in Paris and then take an overnight train from Paris to Venice. It’s a memorable sight as your train slowly crosses the Venice Lagoon and the Venetian skyline appears on the horizon as you enter heart of this island-city.
Difference between a vaporetto and water taxi.
Think of a vaporetto as a public bus on the water. There are two companies that operate vaporetti (plural for vaporetto); ACTV and Alilaguna. ACTV is best for traveling around Venice and the islands. Alilaguna, as far as cruise passengers are concerned, is mainly for connecting between the airport and cruise port. Links to both companies are at the bottom of this article.
If you want to avoid crowds and glide through the canals on your own private “yacht” then opt for the more expensive water taxi. Think of these as land-based taxis back home. This is your best option for early morning flights TO the airport from your hotel. Yes, there is rush hour on the canals.
First view of Venice as you exit the Santa Lucia train station.
Getting from Santa Lucia train station to the cruise port
It may seem daunting but it’s actually easy.
On foot part of the way
- Turn right after you exit the train station, walk along the Grand Canal for a short distance. Cross the Ponte della Costituzione glass and steel bridge to Piazzale Roma.
From Piazzale Roma you have a few choices to reach the nearby Stazione Marittima (large ship cruise port).
- If your arms are tired from hauling luggage, you can take a taxi for a few euros right to the terminal
- Wait for or hurry to the free shuttle bus which runs about every 15 minutes
- Take a really short tram/train ride on the driverless People Mover. Sort of like the connector trams at airports. You’ll find a ticket machine inside the glass-enclosed ticket kiosk. You’ll quickly reach the Marittima exit (cruise terminal) – it’s the first stop along the way – in only a few minutes.
- If you’re traveling really light and feeling adventurous, you can walk to the cruise terminal from Piazzale Roma. Start walking as if leaving Venice, following the busy causeway that leads over to the mainland. Once you’ve crossed over the water and train tracks, turn left into the terminal. But I really don’t recommend walking over to the port.
On a Vaporetto part of the way
- After exiting Santa Lucia train station, in front of you is the magnificent Grand Canal. You’ll find the ACTV vaporetto floating docks to your left. You want to buy a ticket for either #1 or #2 vaporetto going to Piazzale Roma. Be prepared for a 30-40 minute boat ride. #1 is a local water bus and #2 is an express water bus. Both will give you a lovely waterborne introduction to Venice.
- Once you arrive at Piazzale Roma, follow the options above.
Transportation to your hotel
Whether you arrive by air or train, the public vaporetti (plural for vaporetto) and private water taxis are waiting to take you to your hotel as soon as you step out of either terminal. Here’s where it gets tricky and a little preparation can go a long way.
Remember, there are only two ways to get around Venice: by foot or by boat.
Most important: pack light. The less luggage you have to haul around, the happier you will be. It’s probably more daunting to arrive into Venice by train than depart. And getting to or from the main cruise port, Stazione Marittima, is an experience worth planning in advance.
At the Stazione Marittima Cruise Terminal via my water taxi.
Arriving or departing from the Venice Cruise Port
You can hire a private water taxi (90 € or more) or hop aboard a public vaporetto to travel between Santa Lucia train terminal and either of the two cruise ship ports. It’s the walk between where your water vaporetto or water taxi docks, at either Venice cruise port – the larger Stazione Marittima cruise terminal or the adjacent smaller San Basilio port, that can be a potential nightmare if you’re not prepared.
If you are lucky and your ship is docked at San Basilio, you are a short walk over cement to the San Basilio vaporetto and water taxi station. It is likely, when docked at San Basilio, that your ship will run a 2-minute shuttle bus ride between the ship and the San Basilio water taxi/vaporetto floating station. This was the case on my recent Viking Star cruise from Barcelona to Venice.
From your hotel or train station to your ship at Stazione Marittima, luggage is usually checked right where either the water taxi or vaporetto lets you off, assuming that cruise ship representatives and luggage trollies are present. On a cruise a couple of years ago, arriving by private water taxi, I was able to check my biggest suitcase to send to the ship. But because I had a case with my computer, another packed full with camera equipment and yet another small case with makeup/breakables etc., I ended up pulling three small but very heavy two-wheeled suitcases for what seemed like miles.
My pre-arranged private water taxi to get to the cruise terminal.
Arriving or departing via airplane
You’ll still have to get to or from the airport (mainland) and Venice Island. If arriving, look for signs to the water taxis and vaporettos just outside the arrival area and it’s the same procedure as above at the cruise port.
Take a public vaporetto (water bus) to your hotel or cruise ship if you don’t have much luggage.
Getting to/from your hotel
Many times for new visitors, finding their hotel means walking and pulling luggage on cobblestones, up steps and over bridges and sometimes up several flights of stairs if you’ve chosen a penzione.
Best advice, choose accommodations near a water bus (vaporetto) stop.
The #1 vaporetto runs between the cruise terminal, the train station and St. Mark’s Square and other stops in-between which may be convenient to your hotel. Note: Your vaporetto may be crowded so be prepared. This is why I love the private water taxis.
Note: Since private water taxis can hold up to six-eight people, you could ask others in the water taxi queue if they’d like to share, provided of course that you are all headed to the same destination.
Entrance to the Hotel Danieli for the private water taxis.
Believe it or not , there are land porters for hire to haul your luggage from point to point. Either phone or ask your hotel concierge for a list of companies. They’re expensive but might be worth it. This saved my sanity when I had to change hotels from the Hotel Danieli to the Westin Europa, on totally opposite sides of St. Mark’s Square.
Yes, people carry their luggage up and over bridges to get to their hotels.
Buy your vaporetto pass online or reserve your water taxi.
You can buy your water bus (vaporetto) pass before you leave home. Simply visit the ACTV website where you can view all of the options. This will cost about 7.50 € pp and it makes several passenger stops. This is not the private water taxi service. For that, you look for a private water taxi at the dock or arrange it online or through your concierge. It’s at least 90 € but it’s the entire boat.
Alilaguna operates several lines, noted by their color. But for going from airport to cruise port, they depart every 15 minutes. Click the link for schedules and to purchase online.
Some private water taxis add a mandatory meet and greet at the train station and charge for the service. But the upside is that you don’t have to pull/push/drag your luggage through the station, down the steps and through the crowds at the waterfront and determine which water taxi is the one you reserved. You can reserve a private water taxi at various places online.
Princess cruise ship on the Grand Canal
Cruise ships on the Venetian Lagoon in Venice won’t last forever. Conservation groups are trying to ban the behemoths, citing erosion and pollution as the two main reasons. You really can’t blame the Venetians for wanting to preserve this easily flooded and slowly sinking magnificent island. If this is on your travel bucket list, plan to go sooner rather than later. It’s truly an iconic travel moment.
Sherry is editor and creator of CruiseMaven.com. An expert on ocean and river cruises plus trains in the US and Europe, Sherry’s goal is to share her experiences to entertain, inform and inspire readers to travel the world.