Venice Cruise Terminal and Train Station and What You Need to Know

Getting around between the Venice cruise terminal, Santa Lucia train station, airport and hotel.

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Gondolas and canals. Romance and intrigue. Venice has it all. But to view this magical place from the deck of a cruise ship is a special and unique experience.

Try to spend at least two days before or after your cruise. Most people fly directly into 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 when the Venetian skyline appears on the horizon as your train slowly crosses the Venice Lagoon and into the heart of this island-city.

Venice Italy at the Santa Lucia train station

First view of Venice as you exit the Santa Lucia train station.

Ok, now you’re there. What’s next? Whether you arrived by air or train, water taxis are waiting to take you to your hotel. Yes, water taxis. There are no streets, thus no cars. Here’s where it gets tricky and a little preparation can go a long way.

To help make your cruise to or from Venice as spectacular and easy as possible, here are my suggestions. 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 than depart. But the experience with the cruise terminal in either direction can be tricky so planning is imperative.

Venice Cruise Terminal

At the Cruise Terminal to board  the Norwegian Jade, top right.

Arriving or departing from the Venice Cruise Terminal
It doesn’t matter whether you hire a private water taxi to/from your hotel (70 € or more) or hop aboard a public vaporetto. The walk between where your water transport docks, at either the larger Marittime cruise terminal or the adjacent smaller San Basilio, can be a potential nightmare if you’re not prepared.

Luggage can be checked right where the water taxi docks, assuming that cruise ship representatives and luggage trollies are present. 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.

A comfortable ride in a private water taxi

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 just outside the arrival area and it’s the same procedure as above at the cruise terminal.

Public vaporetto in Venice

Take a public water taxi 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 nearest to 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.

Entrance for private water taxis at the Hotel Danieli

Entrance to the Hotel Danieli for the private water taxis.

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 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.

Bridge at Piazza San Marco (2)

Yes, people are carrying their luggage up and over bridges to get to their hotels.

You can buy your water bus pass before you leave home from Alilaguna.it. This will cost about 7 – 15 € pp and includes one suitcase (pay for additional luggage) and it makes several passenger stops. It’s a private company but not a private taxi all to yourself. For that, you look for a private water taxi at the dock or arrange it online or through your concierge. It’s 70 € well spent.

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.

Princess cruise ship on the Grand Canal in Venice

Princess cruise ship on the Grand Canal 

Cruise ships on the Grand Canal 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.

Photo credit: Sherry Laskin – Photos of the Grand Canal taken from aboard the Norwegian Jade.

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6 Comments

  1. Hi and thank you for reading my Venice article. Are you certain that NCL Gem is going to dock at Marittima? In order to dock there, the ship would have to go through the Venice Lagoon and the ship is oversized. I’m fairly certain that the ship will dock in nearby Ravenna and then transport everyone into Venice. Please check with NCL to confirm. Have a good cruise!

  2. Hello we are arriving on Norwegian gem into Venice and need to get on to a hop on hop off boat rides .. how do we get from Maritimma port yo any of the attached boat boarding points please thanks

  3. Hi Maureen,
    Thank you for reading my article and taking the time to ask your question. I don’t know where your ship will dock but if it docks in Porto Marghera (large ships) or still allowed into Venice proper, you’ll need to get to Venice Mestre train station to get into Venice. Your ship will probably offer either free or paid transfers to the train station. Or take a taxi. You can also take a ferry into Venice as well. Once you are onboard your ship, ask about your options at the shore excursion desk. It’s probably faster to take the train, if the timing is right. Since the large ships have been banned from the Guidecca Canal, it’s made getting into Venice a little complicated. If you’re on Royal Caribbean, your ship will dock in Ravenna and transfer from there. But I’m sure we’ll all adjust eventually! Have a wonderful cruise!

  4. Hi Jairam,
    Thank you for reading my article and sending you question. From where your ship docks at San Basilio, the vaporetto stop is only a few yards away. If you go to my article How to Go to Venice From San Basilio port, you can see the path from the port to the vaporetto stop. There’s a small bridge to cross after you leave the very small port area.

    Unfortunately, I’m not familiar with what would be the best ticket to purchase. Yes, you can buy them online. If you’re only option is to take three different vaporetti and you have a lot of heavy luggage, you might want to look into a private boat and maybe find a couple of people on Silver Spirit who are also taking the train, that would share it with you.

    Sorry I can’t be more specific about which would be the best ticket to purchase? The concierge or front desk aboard Silver Sea might be able to answer that question and you can still purchase the ticket online in advance of disembarkation.

    Have a wonderful cruise! Be sure to bring some warm clothing as Venice in November is chilly but also beautifully less crowded! Thank you again.

  5. Our cruise ship “Silver Spirit” ends its voyage at San Basilio, Venice on Nov 1. My question is how do we get to the nearest Vaporetto stop which will take us to Santa Lucia train station ? How long is the walk ?

    I believe it’s advisable to get the Vaporetto tickets online, so that we can validate it and get on the boat instead of fumbling around to buy a ticket. Assuming 3 trips on the Vaporetto, what’s the best ticket to get ?

    Thanks a million in advance.

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