Venice, Italy – Richard’s Quick Guide

I am busy preparing for my contract on RUBY PRINCESS and thought you might appreciate the following information if, and when, you visit Venice

Venice, Italy – Richard’s Quick Guide


  • Ship Tour – Cruise line does all the research and planning and you sit back and enjoy. The best way to see the most in a limited time and can be the most cost-effective. Ship does not leave until all ship tours are back.
  • You Do It All – “Independent.” – For people who like to do their own research & planning using travel guidebooks, Internet, etc. You do the work and you are independent. It is your responsibility to get back to the ship on time. [Independent group tours generally are best booked online in advance based on recommendations you trust.]


  • Richard’s Port Talks – Live and on cabin TV
  • Tourist Information Web site:
  • Cruise line-provided port map & guide delivered to your stateroom – depending on port of call may be more of a shopping information sheet on some cruise lines giving you step-by-step directions to “preferred” shops with whom the cruise line has a marketing agreement
  • There are many detained and interactive maps available online
  • 1 km = .6 mile


  • Italy is part of the Euro-zone and uses the Euro
  • Check Internet for current rates – of course anyone who changes money for you makes money by giving you slightly less than the going rate, but you knew that.
  • Tipping: If “service included” locals leave additional small coins up to 1 Euro, if not included 10-15% – Tour Guides: around $4-10 per person, depending on the length of tour, bus driver $1-4 per person, depending on length of tour. [Tour guides receive most of their income from tips and generally bus drivers and guides do not share tips.]

Getting Around

  • Vaporetto is Venice “city bus” – About 6.50 Euro for 60 minutes going in one direction – 12 “iMob” or tourist pass costs around 16 Euro – Buy tickets at ticket counter or pay conductor – You must validate tickets in yellow machine to avoid fines.
  • Gondolas haggle somewhere between $125 – 150 US for hour ride.
  • Water Taxis are very expensive – Within the old city can easily cost 30-50 EU or more.
  • 7 Traghetto [“ferry"] points on Grand Canal where old gondolas will take you across the canal for around a Euro.
  • “People Mover” that will take you from the port to the Piazza Roma where you can connect with the train, buses to other parts of Venice and the Vaporetto that will take you to St Mark’s. “People Mover” 1 Euro coin.
  • There is a yellow Water Shuttle that takes you right to St Mark’s Square.
  • Usually there will be a cruise line Shuttle boat that will take you to St Mark’s Square.
  • It is possible to walk from St. Mark’s Square to Piazza Roma using the People Mover to get between Piazza Roma and the ship. The route isn’t well marked but since the train station is by Piazza Roma, just follow the procession of people with roller board suitcases.

Helpful Hints

  • Venice can be mobbed at the height the season – Locals feel as if they are being crowded out by “Veniceland”.
  • If you are able, Venice is best explored on foot – you WILL get lost, but just ask directions.
  • Expect long lines if you are on your own at St Mark’s, Bell Tower, and Doges Palace, all at St Mark’s Square – Best way to avoid the lines, somewhat, is to take a tour. If you are the independent sort, pick the one you really want to see and be there first thing in the morning. If the ship isn’t arriving until afternoon either take the tour, or try to get in just before closing, and make a fast tour.
  • Dress respectfully for churches.
  • Watch out for pickpockets – crowds of tourists equal pickpockets at work – so be “street smart” and aware of your surroundings.
  • Watch where you walk!
  • Because of all the Canals bridges are often steep and few are “accessible” and those that are require a wheelchair occupant to also be an Olympic power lifter!
  • Gelato is less expensive away from St. Mark’s Square on the back streets.
  • Most Venice restaurants add in an extra fee just because you are sitting in their restaurant.
  • It isn’t so much about what you “see” as what you “experience”.
  • Shops open 9am-1pm, 3pm-7:30pm – “tourist shops” with “Chinese goods” more often open all day.


  • St Mark’s Square – the heart of Venice, shuttle boats and Vaporetto will let you off within what is for most people a short walking distance to the Square.
  • St Mark’s Cathedral – the center of the Square. Long lines anytime of year, but particularly in the summer. Best bet is to take the ships’s tour or arrive early in the morning.  The remains of St. Mark and the lions above the door were both stolen from Alexandria, Egypt.
  • St Mark’s Bell Tower – “One of the greatest erections of all time.” There will be a long, long line, particularly in summer to climb to the top. The view from the deck of the ship, if the ship sails in through St. Mark’s Canal and the Canal de Giudeca is just as good if not better.
  • Doge’s Palace – Residence of the Doge who was elected for life and the seat of government 1309-1424. Not to be missed. Long, long lines particularly in summer. If you are not on a tour the key is to be first in line in the morning. Open from 9am-6pm. approximately 15 Euro.
  • Grand Canal – Vaporetto ride down the Grand Canal is a great, and relatively inexpensive, way to view many of the Venetian Palaces on the Grand Canal. You can get the Vaporetto at Piazza Roma (where the People Mover takes you) or at the Vaporetto stop near St. Mark’s Square.
  • Rialto Bridge – Can be seen from the Vaporetto if you are taking the Vaporetto down the Grand Canal. There is a Vaporetto stop at the Rialto Bridge. You can walk to the Rialto Bridge from St. Mark’s Square or vice versa. There are some signs, or you can just ask or follow the crowd. There is a market on the opposite side of the Bridge from the Vaporetto stop and St. Mark’s. In the morning there is a vegetable and fish market there as well.
  • Rialto Market – On the opposite side of the Bridge from the Rialto Vaporetto stop and St. Mark’s. In the morning there is a vegetable and fish market there as well. Lots of Made in China souvenirs.
  • Guggenheim Museum – If you’ve been to Venice before the Guggenheim is in the former home of Peggy Guggenheim houses her collection of modern art, reputed to be one of the finest in any small museum. Vaporetto stop on the Grand Canal. 10am-6pm, closed Tuesday. 12 Euro.
  • Gallerie del Accademia – Venetian paintings from the 14th to 19th century. Open 8:30am-6:30pm, Tuesdays until 1pm. 8 Euro.
  • Murano is the island home of Venice’ famous glass. The real thing is expensive. The Made in China knock offs are inexpensive. Much of the glass currently being sold in souvenir shops is Made in China. Know what you are looking for, do some research, and buy the real thing if that’s what you want. If you just want something that looks something like Venetian glass go for the Chinese stuff. You can get there by Vaporetto or tour.
  • Burano is a small island which I think is more interesting than Murano. Brightly colored houses, canals, and lace making. You can get there by Vaporetto or tour.

Copyright 2012 RLD – May not be reprinted without permission. Information provided by local agents and believed to be accurate but not guaranteed.

What do you do?

One of the questions folks always ask me when I am home in Panama is what I do on board ship?  I always laugh when they ask if I’m the Captain!  I wish!  But because I’m “mature” I guess that seems like a logical assumption.  When I tell them I lecture on board they always want to know what I talk about.

So . . . in case you’ve wondered . . . here are a few clips I posted on YouTube that will give you an idea.  These are ship recordings that we replayed on cabin TV for our guests during the sailing.  Sometimes the quality leaves something to be desired, but you can get the idea.

I can’t embed these . . . but if you click on the link it will take you to YouTube . . .

“Holy Cities” - This is the first 15 minutes of a lecture on the “Holy Land” for ports in Israel. The entire port lecture was 6o minutes. This was recorded on PACIFIC PRINCESS to be run continuously on cabin TV. Unfortunately due to limited equipment the slides are recorded by a camera filming the projection screen (sometimes moving with the ship!) and not pulling directly from the computer so the quality leaves much to be desired.

“Enchanting Egypt” – This is a 15 minute clip from the middle of a talk for Port Said and Cairo for a series of Egypt cruises on Princess calling in Egypt 8 months after the 2011 February Revolution. The interesting thing about the first part of this clip, is that once I started asking people to check out the prices and quality of cartouches onboard before going off on tour to Egypt, the number of cartouches being sold in the jewelry shop on board zoomed from 2 or 3 per cruise to as many as 27 per cruise.

“Let The Adventure Begin”  – This is a clip from a video designed to be shown to guests on ZUIDERDAM on embarkation day.  Part of my assignment as Travel Guide was to soft sell shore excursions.  This section deals with Panama and a little part of Costa Rica.

“More Than Johnny Depp: The History of Piracy” – This is a 15 minute clip from a 55 minute talk on the history of piracy, tracing it from it’s beginnings right up through the present day.