January 20th 2018

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Beautiful enchanting Venice Beautiful enchanting Venice Beautiful enchanting Venice

 

Continent: Europe. Country: Italy. City: Venice.

Beautiful enchanting Venice

By Bruce Cairns, Travel Counsellors

I have been very fortunate to have experienced two cruise ship sail always from the wonderful city of Venice (P&O Ventura in July 2014 and Crown Princess in November 2012). It is perhaps the most iconic departure city for any cruise ship and an amazing experience. 

More about the sail always later – first of all I want to talk about the wonderful, quirky, fabulous unique city of Venice.  Venice is always worth a visit, but to visit it and then experience a cruise departing from it is a simply wonderful experience.

On my first visit to Venice, I had 24 hours to explore the city prior to my cruise departing – this is not nearly long enough in my opinion to explore this fascinating city built on water.   Transferring from Venice Marco Polo airport by coach to the city is pretty uneventful as you pass through Venice Mestre, but then you join the causeway (or Ponte della Libertà) which takes the main road and rail links to Venice and you see the city start to appear.  If you are heading straight to your cruise ship, this is where you will get your first glimpse of your home for the next week or so appearing on the right hand side as you near the port.

However much you prepare for your visit and read up about a city which has canals instead of streets nothing really beats the actual experience and assault of your senses of visiting Venice.

Fortunately on my first trip I had the time to explore Venice, a waterbus (or vaporetto) from the port deposited us near the St Mark’s Square (or Piazza San Marco) and right away there was the first of the many photo opportunities – the beautiful Bridge of Sighs and Doge’s Palace.  Pictures taken, it was pass the winged lions and into St Mark’s Square to enjoy the atmosphere, watching waiters bustle between tables smartly dressed in their long aprons whilst music is playing.  The music incidentally is added to your bill in these upmarket cafes as your entertainment.  Very different to all the inclusions that you experience on your cruise holiday. If you have the opportunity and time do indulge in the great ‘sport’ of people watching from these wonderful cafes.

We took a tour of the impressive St Mark's Basilica – wonderful to see the amazing mosaics in this beautiful building and learn about the history of this unique city. Venice really has an amazing history it was once one of the richest cities on earth.  A lot of its beauty comes from this prosperity which is reflected in its wonderful architecture.  

We followed the visit to the basilica with a wander around St Mark’s Square, accompanied with a genuine Italian ice cream (which was actually quite reasonable in price) and some people watching.  This we followed by a study of the street plan to try and locate the Rialto Bridge, what could go wrong?

A few steps away from St Mark’s Square I found out, as other tourists scanned their maps desperately trying to find the place that we had left only seconds ago.  Yes like these tourists – everyone gets lost in Venice, don’t worry about it, just enjoy exploring – it is amazing what you will see around every corner.  We passed some amazing buildings, shops, alleyways and there is just a wonderful atmosphere throughout the city. And somehow we managed to find the Rialto Bridge.  We reached it just as the sun was going down – it was simply breath-taking looking down the Grand Canal as the sky darkened, the colours changed and the lights started coming on.  We then attempted to make our way back to St Mark’s Square and catch our waterbus.  We certainly managed to get lost on our return trip.  Coming across many dead ends and cul-de-sacs – but we also saw the real Venice, the one where people live, shop and eat and the Venice that’s not just for tourists. We saw kids playing football in the street, neighbourhood cafes, local shops and lots of local flavour. More by luck than anything we eventually did find our way back to St Mark’s Square and caught our waterbus.

I believe you could spend weeks exploring the narrow streets and canals in Venice and still get lost – but it is a wonderful city to get lost in!  By the way if you like the look of a particular restaurant or store then I suggest you visit it then when you see it, as it may be difficult to find again.  I was impressed by the quality of shopping in Venice, yes there is the usual souvenir ‘tack’ but also many designer shops in wonderful settings.

Our next highlight was the following day with our sail away from Venice.  The ships all dock in the quite industrial port area and then head towards the city centre down the Giudecca Canal where you have the neighbourhoods (or sestieri) of Guidecca and Dorsoduro on either side of your ship.  There is so much to see on either side that you almost wish that your ship would go even slower as you don’t want to miss a thing. We saw cafes, shops, factories, churches and fascinating palaces, vaporetto stops and all around the constant bustle that is Venice!  It is more than just a trip down a canal; it is an experience to be valued.  On my first sail down the Giudecca Canal I was on deck and as high up as I could get for the best views.  On my second sail away I enjoyed the views from my stateroom balcony – both were great experiences, the crowd on deck added to the atmosphere although it was also a bit busy.  From my stateroom balcony on the second trip, there was no crowd, I had a lovely seat and I toasted Venice with a lovely Italian Red! Yes the second one edged it overall.

As your ship makes its progress towards St Mark’s Square accompanied by tugs you feel so close to the canal side and you can see lots of people carrying on with their lives in this wonderful city – some of them will stop to look up at the ship and give you a wave.  All too soon the ship is passing St Mark’s Square, The Grand Canal and you see the Bridge of Sighs as the ship progresses away from wonderful Venice towards the open sea.

 

Bruce Cairns
Travel Counsellors

Keywords: Venice, P&O Ventura, Crown Princess, Venice Marco Polo Airport, Venice Mestre, Ponte Della Liberta, St Mark's Square, St Mark's Basilica, Giudecca Canal, Dorsoduro, Bridge Of Sighs