Getting to Venice by cruise ship or ferry

A cruise ship arriving in Venice
A cruise ship arriving in Venice. (Photo courtesy of Venezia Terminal Passeggeri)

Arriving in Venice aboard a cruise ship or ferry from Greece or Croatia—How to get between the port and either the airport or downtown Venice

Stazione Marittima Venezia
Piazzale Tronchetto
Vaporetto: Staz. Marittima or S. Basilio
tel. +39-041-240-3000
www.vtp.it


Transport from the airport to the cruise terminal

by sea

• www.alilaguna.it (public ferry; €15)
• www.viator.com (private boat; €34)
• www.motoscafivenezia.it (water taxi; €110)

by land (to Piazzale Roma)
• www.actv.it (city bus; €1.30)
• www.atvo.it (shuttle bus; €6)

Transport from Venice hotels to the cruise terminal

• www.actv.it (public vaporetto; €7)
• www.alilaguna.it (public water shuttle; €8)
• www.viator.com (private motorboat; €25–€30)

» Hotels near the cruise terminal

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A map of the Stazione Marittima and San Basilio cruise temrinal, ferry dock, and public piers.
A map of the layout of Venice's Stazione Marittima and San Basilio cruise terminal and ferry docks.
» View larger map.
The Venice cruise port and approach is about to change

Note: From December, 2013, to April, 2014, all cruise ships to Venice will dock on the mainland side of the lagoon, not in downtown Venice (the Gothic bits of Venice located on islands; the bits everybody wants to visit).

This is so the city can finish work on the flood barriers being built betwen the gaps between the lagoon's barrier islands (including the Lido).

Starting after April, 2014, cruise ships will return to the familiar downtown dock—however, fewer of them and fewer big boats. Large cruise ships are having a delterious effect on the fragile old city, and their size and number are (finally) being limited.

Also, soon ships will no longer cruise into Venice along the wide Giudecca Canal but rather come up from the south nearly to the mainland before turning to arrive at the old cruise port via a freshely, more deeply dredged Canale Contorta Sant'Angelo.

Cruise ships tower over Venice
Why Venice truly does need to limit the size and number of cruise ships. (Photo by Anna Zemella)
This does mean you will no longer cruise through the Bacino San Marco, past the mouth of the Grand Canal and the belltower and domes of St. Mark's Basilica. A litle sad, perhaps, the end of this era, but long overdue.

If nothing else, this new route will eliminate the despicably frequent occurance of some idiot captain, trying to give his passengers a thrill, nosing his boat—entirely illegally—into the mouth of the Grand Canal itself, sometimes getting stuck in the process, and nearly always damaging the already fragile city fabric.

The ferries (mostly from Greece and Istria in Croatia) will never return to the downtown docks but will, instead, use the mainland docks from now on. Once they have new maps of all of this, I will post them.

How it works normally

Most cruise ships to or from Venice dock at one of two nearby ports in the southwest corner of the historic center (between the Piazzale Roma parking garages and Tronchetto, just south-southwest of the train station).

The main port of Venice is called Stazione Marittima, and is where most Mediterranean cruises and other big ships dock. Some smaller ships and (and, in summer, even some larger boats when the Staz. Marittima's full) pull into the old S. Basilio ferry docks just to the southeast of Stazione Marittima along the Zattere.

The easiest way to figure out which one you need is, if you're just arriving in Venice, simply ask as you disembark "Stazione Marittima o San Basilio?"

If you're already in Venice and need to head to the port to catch a ship, make sure you ask beforehand which dock you want. (All things being equal, your best bet is to head first to the main Stazione Marittima; you can always make your way around to the other slip if need be.)

Hotels near the cruise terminal
You can find hotels near the cruise terminal at both:
• Venere.com (look for hotels in the surrounding neighborhoods of Cannaregio West, S. Croce West, and Dorsoduro West).
• Booking.com (use the site's map feature to look for nearby hotels)
The map up above the right shows the layout of the port and cruise terminals.

(For a larger version of this map, click here.)

Viator

How to get to and from the Venice Airport and the cruise terminal

Many cruises that start or end in Venice include transportation to or from the airport.

If it's not included, do not buy the cruise line's "transfer" option.

It will inevitably cost far more than what you'd pay just doing it on your own. (The reason cruises are so relatively inexpensive is that they make virtually all their profits from shore excursions—that and on-board gambling and booze sales.)

The best option: The water ferry (94–114 min.; €15)

The way to get between San Marco airport and Venice's cruise ship port that combines an almost reasonable price with a lovely journey is to hop on the Alilaguna public ferry blue line (tel. +39-041-240-1701, www.alilaguna.it). (More on getting to the ferry dock from the airport.)

At the airport, grab Linea blu (blue) ferry, which makes its leisurely way around Venice, stopping several times and arrives at the Cruise Terminal—the end of the line—in 114 min. (a few early morning runs, from 6:10 to 8:10am, are express and only take 94 min.).

The ticket is only €15 (if you buy on board: €16), and that includes 1 suitcase and 1 piece of hand luggage (extra bags: €3 each).

The classy option: A private boat transfer (30 min.; €34)

Only chumps shell out more than €100 for a public water taxi. If you book one eahd of time, you can get a private transfer in a motorboat—exactly like the taxi—for for only €34.

Even better (a service the public water taxis do not offer): a representative will meet you on the airport arrivals hall and escort you to the boat.

(For about €4 more, the rep will accompany you all the way to your hotel.)

The overpriced option: A water taxi (50–60 min.; €110)

You could also take a private water taxi from the airport to the cruise terminal, but it'll take nearly an hour and cost a dizzying €110 (tel. +39-041-522-2303, www.motoscafivenezia.it).

The quick-but-dull option: A land taxi (20–30 min; €35)

A taxi (regular, land taxi) from the airport to Stazione Marittima will take about 20 to 30 minutes and cost about €35.

The cheapest option: The bus (30–40 min; €1.30–€11)

Take either the €6 ATVO airport shuttle bus (tel. +39-0421-383-672, www.atvo.it; 20 min.) or €1.30 ACTV public bus no. 5 (tel. +39-041-272-2111, www.actv.it) to the end of the line at Piazzale Roma—which is very close to the port...but not quite there yet.

To cover the final 900 yards from Piazzale Roma to the cruise terminal, you can either:

  • Hop the shuttle bus - Free, and runs every 15 or 20 minutes, but usually available only Saturdays through Mondays, during cruise season, when a big ship is in port.
  • Take the Venice People Mover - A fancy name for a small shuttle train (picture one of those terminal-to-terminal connectors at a large airport). Buy the €1 ticket at a machine; get off at the first stop—"Marittima"—less than 2 minutes later. It runs Mon-Sat 7am–11pm, Sun 8am–10pm (Nov-Mar 8:30am–9pm).
  • Grab public bus no. 6B or 6/ - (That's six with a slash after it; different from six without a slash). It costs €1.30 and gets you close—but not quite—to the cruise dock; grab the bus headed toward "Tronchetto" (not "Panorama") and get off at the second stop.
  • Take a (land) taxi - Takes about two minutes, and should run about €5 (tel. +39-041-523-7774 or +39-041-595-2080).
  • Walk - It's 10 to 15 uninspiring minutes along sometimes busy roads. Head away from Venice and up along the beginning of the bridge/causeway to the mainland, then turn left into the port area just after crossing above all the railroad tracks.

How to get to and from the Venice train station and the main cruise port

If you've arrived at the Venice train station, and want to get to the ship terminal, just turn right out of the station, walk up the Grand Canal a bit, and cross over that shiny new glass-and-steel Ponte della Costituzione to Piazzale Roma.

To cover the final 900 yards from Piazzale Roma to the cruise terminal, you can either:

How to get to and from your hotel in downtown Venice and the main cruise port

Fastest and easiest option: Simply take the Alilaguna Blue public ferry (tel. +39-041-240-1701, www.alilaguna.it) from the San Marco-Giardinetti docks. It will cost €8.

More elegant option (direct to hotel): Take a private motorboat transfer either to/from your hotel's dock or to/from the nearest one (a representative will meet you in your hotel and take you to the launch site).

It costs €25–€30 (about €10 more after 9:30pm)—or, for about €4 more, you can get "full service" and the representative will accompany you the entire way:

Otherwise, grab that brief land taxi ride (or walk in 15 minutes) the 900 yards around to Piazzale Roma, which is a major stop for the vaporetti, Venice's public ferry system of water buses.

If you're made of money, you can take a private taxi acquei (water taxi)—though these motoscafi are monstrously expensive, they might actually make sense if you're toting all your luggage, since most other options involve a healthy walk coupled with an often crowded ride on Venice's floating equivalent to a public bus, the vaporetto (which will cost you €7 anyway).

The San Basilio docks

If you happen to land at (or need to get to) the San Basilio docks, in the southwest corner of Dorsoduro, to get downtown you can either hop a water taxi, or take the public ferries/water buses known as vaporetti (lines 2, N, 8, 61, 62) at the S. Basilio vaporetto stop, just east of the ferry docks along the Fondamente Zattere (the quaiside promenade) and across a bridge.

(By the way, they aren't trying to rip you off on the vaporetto. Even though this is the local equivalent of a public bus, the tickets really do cost €7. Welcome to Venice.)

If you're coming from or going to the airport from the San Basilio docks, your best best is to continue walking east-southeast along the Zattere 450 yards to the Zattere vaporetto stop, where you can grab blu (blue) line of the Alilaguna traghetto (ferry) to Marco Polo Airport in 1 hour and 20 minutes (€15; tel. +39-041-240-1701, www.alilaguna.it).

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This article was written by Reid Bramblett and was last updated in November 2013. All information was accurate at the time.

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