A city tour of Venice enables you to enjoy a multitude of highlights, such as the Basilica di San Marco, the Torre dell'Orologio clock tower and the arcade of Procuratie Vecchie and Nuove.
Rained first day so didn't get off ship. Took a boat ride around the islands the second morning. I had spent time in Venice so didn't care about getting in crowds. Loved the view from our aft deck as we entered and left Venice.
Provider: Celebrity Cruises
Our next stop was Venice, the city of cities! The sail into Venice was spectacular - the ship really played this up, as they should have, as there is nothing like it - to slowly sail in on the Grand Canal with St. Mark's Square RIGHT THERE, a stone's throw from the decks, really amazing! For over an hour on the dramatic approach to the city, theme music was broadcast throughout the ship and on the public outer decks, by Sarah Brightman and Andrea Boccelli to name a few, setting the mood very effectively.
On Day 1 of our stay in Venice, we booked the shore excursion VE02, Doge's Palace, St. Mark's Cathedral & Glass Showroom. This was an excellent excursion, covering key highlights of the city. Our guide was very good. I would enjoy returning in order to spend more time in St. Mark's Cathedral. It is definitely a spot where you just want to sit, stay quiet, and simply take it in. The tour of the Doge's Palace was excellent. The glass showroom, eh, was ok - there was a quick demonstration then time to shop, and given the world renown reputation of Murano glass, something to see for sure, but not really our style. After the tour, we were free to return to the ship on our own. We used this opportunity to take a gondola ride. This, we recommend strongly, you must do on your own - do not do this as a shore excursion. We are a family of five, and the ship shore excursion price for a gondola ride for the 5 of us was approximately $100 per person!!! However, doing it on our own, that is how much we paid IN TOTAL for the 5 of us - a tremendous and overwhelming savings!! To get a gondola ride is very very easy. There are reputable stands all over. We went to one of the ubiquitous Paul & Shark Yachting stands - they operate nearly all of the gondolas in Venice! - and had a wonderful tour, approximately 45 minutes in length, very memorable. Someday, my husband and I will return and take a romantic gondola ride at night, just the two of us, with the sun setting, but this ride was a wonderful family experience, for sure!
On Day 2 in Venice, our 3 kids stayed on board, according to plan, and my husband and I went on shore excursion VE06, Secret Venice Walking Tour. WOW, we loved this excursion!! Our tour guide was super engaging, very informed, and to see the sights of Venice on foot, venues that are far away from the fray of Piazza San Marco - definitely a highlight of our cruise! We HIGHLY recommend this excursion!! Everything that we saw was as detailed in the description, but after the walking tour, instead of returning immediately to the ship, we spent several hours on our own in the city. We feel so lucky to have been able to have had this magical experience of exploring Venice completely on our own (with a map!), truly an opportunity of a lifetime, at least the lifetime of yours truly. Based upon a port exploration talk given on board, we took the gondola "bus" across the Grand Canal from the San Marco District to explore the Artistic District or Dorsoduro, and simply fell in love with the area - few people, secluded, lovely. We loved discovering the gondola workshop, Squero san Trovaso (as seen by us on CBS Sunday Morning several years ago!) as well as enjoying some delicious gelato at Bar Laguna. We walked back to the San Marco District on the Academia Bridge, spanning the Grand Canal, and returned to the Solstice on the Celebrity water shuttle.
Provider: Celebrity Cruises
This was a great tour to have this day as Italy public transportation was on strike, therefore, the only water boats going to these islands that day were personal ones or excursions. This was an okay excursion, it was nice to go these three islands, however, we had little time to each island to really explore. Torcello was the hardest one, they gave us 40 minutes, it is about a 10 minute walk to the actual part you explore. Once there, everything costs money to go in. We didn't think it made sense to pay to go into something we couldn't stay at for awhile. Murano was neat and Burano was really pretty. We probably could have used more time at Murano as well.
Provider: Independent Operator
Venice. The ship docked on 10 AM on May 29. We purchased shuttle boat pass, went to Venice, saw several old historical churches and then came back to the ship. In the evening after the dinner we went back to Venice and saw the city in the evening and at night. The next morning at 8:30am, May 30 our grand cruise adventure ended as we left to take the 9 hour flight back home to Long Island.
Provider: Independent Operator
We had a full day and half port of call in Venice. We docked at 1:00pm and were on the tender for this tour by 2:15pm. Our guide was very pleasant and knowledgeable but she was rather soft spoken so between that, her strong, Italian accent, and the background noise of the crowds, we had some difficulty understanding or hearing everything she had to say. On top of that, in the Doges Palace, there was another RCCL tour group whose guide had a booming voice and kept commandeering spots in front of artwork we were trying to see. Our poor guide would try to give us a brief description but it was hard to hear her while the other guide kept talking. Other than that it was a fascinating tour. No talking is allowed in St. Marks and tourists are quickly shepherded in and out. Watching the glass blower was interesting and were shown beautiful but expensive pieces in the showroom. When the tour and scheduled free time was complete we opted to follow the group back to the tender only because it was such a crowded madhouse at the dock, we were concerned we wouldn't be able to figure out which tenders were the ones designated for our ship! (Pathetic, I know.)
The following day we walked to the people mover train and took it to the Vaparetto Station to pick up Vaparetto #1 which goes up and down the Grand Canal. We bought the 12 hour pass and had the day to explore Venice on our own. Ship departed at 8:00pm so this was really a great, unrushed port of call that provided enough time to explore and enjoy this city.
Provider: Royal Caribbean International