River Cruise from Venice Aboard CroisiEurope Michelangelo River Cruise

I was excited to return to Venice. This time though, I wasn’t going to stay in a hotel. Instead, I’d stay aboard CroisiEurope’s Michelangelo river ship for five nights. 

CroisiEurope is a family-owned river cruise company based in Strasbourg and offers a very reasonably priced four-night stay in the heart of Venice, aboard their Michelangelo river ship.

CroisiEurope Michelangelo river ship docked in Venice.

River Cruise From Venice Review Aboard Michelangelo

From where Michelangelo is docked, it’s a quick 15-minute walk along the famous Riva degli Schiavoni promenade to Piazza San Marco. The location is ideal; the setting is breathtaking.

“Welcome aboard” Prosecco and snacks in the lounge.

Like Staying on a Private Yacht in the Heart of Venice.

I boarded CroisiEurope Michelangelo at Venice San Basilio terminal, near the expansive Marittima cruise terminal, former home to the big cruise ships.

By late afternoon we were all onboard and Michelangelo began its short journey across the lagoon to tie up in its new location for the next four days…right in the heart of Venice.

View of Venice from the bow of the Michelangelo, looking towards the west.
View of Venice from the bow of the Michelangelo, looking sort of northwest. The sun set behind San Giorgio Maggiore tower.

Once we docked in our new location, it was easy to get my bearings. The bow of the ship pointed toward the city with the tower of San Giorgio Maggiore on the left and San Marco on the right.

I know it looks like a long walk to Piazza San Marco from the photo above, but it’s really only 15 minutes. There are three low bridges to cross, with about 12 steps up and then down. But the steps are not steep nor unbalanced and there are iron hand rails if needed.

Embarkation in Venice

Whether you arrive into Venice by train or a plane (Marco Polo Airport is on the mainland), you’ll need to know and plan ahead to know how to get to San Basilio and the Marittime Venice cruise terminal for your small ship cruise.

I had arranged a private transfer from Santa Lucia Railway Station. Yes, it’s pricey, about €80 ($120USD) but traveling alone with luggage, it’s makes life easier.

After a 25-minute scenic boat ride along the Grand Canal, we merged into the Guidecca Canal, towards the cruise terminal. Boarding a river ship is so simple.

There are none of the lines, stress or confusion that occur on some of the larger cruise ships.

A warm Italian welcome aboard from the Reception staff and our cruise manager.
A warm Italian welcome aboard from the Reception staff and our cruise manager.

A pleasant, “Buongiorno” as I stepped aboard Michelangelo and escorted to my stateroom completed the process. No credit card to put on file, no electronic key card. Just an old fashioned brass key fob and key.

Just as you do in grand old hotels in Europe, your key is left with Reception every time you leave the ship, even for an evening stroll along the waterfront.

CroisiEurope Michelangelo Accommodations

All the staterooms are pretty much the same. The only difference is the deck (Upper or Main) and picture window size (Upper deck has larger windows.)  Of the 78 staterooms, two are designated for singles, four have double beds and there’s one suite.

See next:  CroisiEurope Douce France on a Rhine river cruise

My CroisiEurope Michelangelo stateroom on the Upper Deck with two twin beds.
My stateroom on the Upper Deck with two twin beds.

Compared to the newer mass market river ships, these staterooms are definitely smaller and less glamorous. But everything you need is there, including a safe, wall-mounted hair dryer and a small writing desk. And you’re in Venice!

Clean and compact, with shower, hair dryer and storage in the medicine cabinet.
Clean and compact, with shower, hair dryer and storage in the medicine cabinet.

And this is one time I can finally say, I spent no time in my stateroom except to sleep and shower. I used the free wifi in the lounge so for once I didn’t do my writing in the stateroom.

Every free moment, I was outside, either on a complimentary tour or wandering the narrow, cobblestones streets through magical Venice.

Public Areas Aboard Michelangelo

It’s a river ship so there aren’t a lot of public areas. There’s the spacious, Astro-turfed sundeck with reclining chairs (and a partial awning for shade), the lounge, dining room and reception area. That’s it. And here they are:

Sundeck on CroisiEurope Michelangelo
Almost full-length sundeck for great views of Venice.

Every evening, the Lounge was the place for entertainment, the welcome aboard and farewell events and the bar was open almost all the time.

CroisiEurope Michelangelo Lounge
CroisiEurope Michelangelo Lounge.

And the bar….

Wine and beer are included at lunch and dinner and...there's an open bar throughout the voyage (except for champagne, special wine and fine brandies.)
Wine and beer are included at lunch and dinner and…there’s an open bar throughout the voyage.
Breakfast, lunch and dinner served in the dining room.
Breakfast buffet, lunch and dinner served in the dining room.

Food and Dining

I have absolutely no complaints. None. A French river cruise company that prepares fabulous Italian dishes in Italy? Makes sense to me.

Though portions are considered small by the gargantuan portions served on most cruise ships, after four courses plus unlimited wine and beer, no one goes home hungry. Desserts like Ricotta cheesecake and Tiramisu were fabulous.

From our first dinner with perfectly-boiled gnocchi and marinara for a starter, to our last Gala Dinner, the French-inspired Italian cuisine was excellent.

CroisiEurope Michelangelo Gnocchi
Our first night’s starter: Gnocchi!

If you are a vegetarian or even semi-vegetarian, it’s extremely important to notify the cruise line in advance. Every meal had some sort of meat for a main course. Fois gras was on the menu, too.

There’s fish for the asking as well as a vegetable entrée. But the chef needs to know in advance.

Farewell dinner CroisiEurope Michelangelo
The staff has taken napkin-folding to a new level. Love the brocade dinner jacket!
CroisiEurope Farewell Dinner menu
CroisiEurope Farewell Dinner menu.


Most nights, everyone left the ship shortly after dinner to walk through Venice under the full moon. Entertainment consisted of an onboard musician, local professional entertainment and a hilarious Crew Show with audience participation.

There's something special about Crew Shows. Two
There’s something special about Crew Shows. Two “willing” passengers participated in this goofy skit. Here, the old clickety “Typewriter Song” was the background music.

Our Venice River Cruise Itinerary

  • Burano
  • Murano
  • Chioggia
  • Padova (Padua)
Chioggia, Italy
The markets in the village of Chioggia were just setting up when we arrived. I took this photo with my iPhone!

Included in our complimentary excursion to Murano was a visit to a centuries-old glass blowing factory. Yes, there’s the inevitable tourist shop after the demonstration.

For me, Chioggia and Padova were a real highlight. On the last morning, we took a 45-minute boat ride to the sleepy fishing village of Chioggia. After a couple hours to walk around on our own, we boarded a motorcoach to go to Padova.

Basilica of Saint Anthony in Padua, Italy
Basilica of Saint Anthony in Padova, Italy and the resting place for the relics of St. Anthony.

Padova dates back to sometime around 1183 BCE. It’s home to the 800-year old University of  Padova, where Galileo Galilei once studied.

The oldest city in northern Italy, Padova is progressive and energetic, thanks to the university’s influence. Beautiful city-center parks and statues and the beautiful Basilica of Saint Anthony are exceptionally interesting.

Our tour guide provided narration throughout the excursion. Except of course for the last hour. That’s when everyone wandered off to try a caffe at the famous Pedrocchi Café, founded in 1772. Great gelato, too.

Conclusion – Who Will or Won’t Love This River Cruise

You’ll love your experience aboard CroisiEurope Michelangelo if:

  • The idea of living on the Venice Lagoon sounds exciting
  • An all-inclusive getaway makes your life easier
  • Being in close quarters with fellow passengers mostly European seems like fun
  • You appreciate classic French cuisine with an Italian influence
  • Value for your vacation dollars is important

You won’t love this cruise if:

  • Steak and eggs is your ideal breakfast
  • You only sleep on a California king-sized bed
  • A stateroom with a balcony is mandatory
  • Being one of only a few English-speaking passengers is not in your comfort zone.
  • Waking up to view the tower of San Marco, one of the most iconic sights in the world, doesn’t excite you

CroisiEurope is not a new river cruise company. But they are a new player to the North American river cruise scene.

A very economical vacation option, Michelangelo is clean and comfortable with fabulous cuisine and very friendly and knowledgable staff. That’s my takeaway.

Check back soon for more about my visits to Burano & Murano and Chioggia & Padova.

CroisiEurope Michelangelo Profile

Built: 2000 and refurbished in 2011
Cabins: 78 cabins
Passengers: 158 passengers
Category:  Mid-Price ($$+) yet all-inclusive. Excellent value.
Internet/Wifi: Complimentary. Best connectivity is in the lounge.
Complimentary Samsung Galaxy Tablet for guests’ use

Disclosure:  I was a guest aboard the Michelangelo. As always, all opinions are my own.

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