River Countess Cruise Review by AyresRocker: Staying on a great little ship in the Venice lagoon
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Staying on a great little ship in the Venice lagoon
This was our second cruise and our second with Uniworld. The ship is very nice and the staff, food, wine etc are all up to the high Uniworld standard we experienced previously. The ship was only just over half full so service was superb.
It was nice to be on the water in Venice for a few days because we felt more a part of this maritime city than just staying on land. After disembarking on the final day we caught a vaparetto to Arsenale where we stayed in a B&B for two nights. We could have stayed longer because Venice is a most interesting city.
One disappointment was that we didn't cruise the Po via the Adriatic because the authorities would not permit the ship to travel with passengers on that route. As a result we spent only a little time actually cruising. A few hours cruising the Venice lagoon which was great and another couple of hours on the Po which is not iinteresting at all.
A short summary:
Day 1 - Venice (Marittima - Santa Marta) More
We embarked at the Marittima (where the big ships dock). This is not easy to get to from the train station where we arrived from Milan. We walked to the bus station and then used the people mover but this only took us a short distance to the shuttle bus pickup point used by the big ships. Uniworld don't offer a shuttle so we walked a long way to the ship. We would have been best to get a taxi from the bus station. However, some Uniworld passengers were told the ship would be located at Santa Marta in the Dorsoduro district (including us) and they didn't check prior to arrival so had to leg it at least 2 km back to the ship or catch taxis. That evening we cruised to the Santa Marta dock!
Day 2 - Venice (Santa Marta)
Walking tour to Piazza San Marco & guided tour of Doge palace. Excellent tour. Return to ship by boat - only part of the way by boat, however, as there is no suitable jetty for water taxis within about a km walking distance from our boat. Be aware that the Santa Marta dock is a fair walk from the most interesting sights. However, there is a vaporetto (ferry) stop not far from the boat and this can get you anywhere.
In the late afternoon we repeated the long walk to and from the loading jetty and went on a very nice boat ride along the Grand Canal.
Day 3 - Venice (Santa Marta) - Padua - Venice (Santa Marta)
Bus to Padua leaving at 8 am which I think is too early. Padua is wonderful.
That afternoon we cruised the Lagoon to Chioggia where we docked for the night.
Day 4 Chioggia - Ravenna - Polesella
Bus to Ravenna leaving at 8 am again! Another superb city. Full of interest and beautiful mosaics. We go to an excellent restaurant for lunch.
Bus back to the ship which is now on the Po river. Cruise the Po for a few hours and dock at a small town called Polesella.
Day 5 Polesella - Bologna - Polesella
Late start today 8.30 am! Bus to Bologna. Walking tour of city then an excellent pasta demonstration and a great lunch.
Day 6 Polesella - Verona - Venice (Santa Marta)
Another early start 8.15am bus to Verona. Love at first sight is right. Excellent walking tour of this most beautiful city.
That evening we were treated to a boat ride along the Grand Canal and a private evening opening of St. Marks. I think our excellent guide, who also took us on the walking tour in Venice, was instrumental in organizing this special visit. One cannot put into words the beauty of this basilica and the pleasure of being able to walk freely around with a small group.
Day 7 Venice (Santa Marta)
am. Leisurely start today followed by a lagoon cruise on the ship which was a very nice. This is the life we thought as we lunched on excellent food on the top deck accompanied by a glass of prosecco. I think the chefs on this cruise produced even better food than the excellent chefs on our previous cruise with Uniworld.
pm. We did our own tour of San Polo including the Scuola Grande di San Rocco ending at the Rialto bridge. The Scuola is not to be missed. If you take this cruise and you are docked at Santa Marta and you have time take a walk through the Quartiere S. Marta via the gate just opposite the S. Marta vaparetto stop. This is a short walk from the ship. There is a small market and a butcher among the residential buildings where washing hangs from every building. The butcher had a large pig roasting and gave us a taste! A short walk onwards via Fond. S. Marta and C. Nuova Terese gets you to a small church called San Nicolo dei Mendicolo. This was one of the first in Venice. It has a XIV frescoe among many other interesting paintings and features. They have a small booklet in English. We took a shortcut through a university or college of some sort to get back to the ship.
A few small things we did miss on this cruise when compared to our previous cruise with Uniworld were: no reminder announcements to join a tour though we did get a reminder phone call call one morning that the bus was about to leave (the bus always left sharply on time) , no relaying of sound from the lounge to the cabin so we could listen to the port talk in the cabin, no dark chocolates on the pillow at night, no folder of the menus at the end of the cruise along with staff photos. As it was our second Uniworld cruise we expected to be offered a few things and at least an upgrade but this did not happen even though the ship was about half full. Less
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