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S.S. La Venezia Review

5.0 / 5.0
Editor Rating
0 reviews
S.S. La Venezia (Photo: Uniworld)
Screen  Shot 2021 03 17 at 10.50.27  A M
S.S. La Venezia (Photo: Uniworld)
Editor Rating
5.0
Excellent
Sue Bryant
Cruise Critic Contributor

S.S. La Venezia started out as the more modest River Countess, built in 2003 and sailing the Po River and the shallow Venice lagoon since 2013. Even before its current incarnation, River Countess was the most luxurious riverboat in Venice.

Now, the ship has been re-launched with even higher standards. In 2019, River Countess was partially crushed against the quayside at San Basilio, the small-ship dock on Venice’s Giudecca Canal, in an accident, when an MSC cruise ship ploughed into it. Fortunately, there were no fatalities and owner Uniworld used the downtime to completely renovate the ship, converting it into a "Super Ship," its most luxurious category, with new decor and furnishings, inspired by Venice and the surrounding area.

Uniworld’s Super Ships are always anything but generic, with extravagantly opulent decor and dramatic touches, from lavish chandeliers to swagged curtains and sumptuously textured wall coverings. La Venezia doesn’t disappoint, from the moment you step onboard into a lobby done out in black and gold and adorned with large potted palms, a circular sofa fringed with silver at its heart. Elaborate Venetian carnival masks adorn one end of Hari’s Bar, the main salon, where the bar is painted pale gold and the gilded chairs resemble small thrones.

While this sounds wildly over the top, the design works, and you quickly settle into what’s essentially an elaborately decorated floating boutique hotel. There’s certainly nothing snooty about the ship, despite its palatial appearance; the dress code is casual and the vibe jolly, aided by the free-flowing, all-inclusive drinks.

This inclusive pricing. -- and the fact that unlike Venice’s many hotels -- it moves, are what gives S.S. La Venezia the edge, all the more so since the 2021 ban of big cruise ships from the city center. During a week-long cruise, you really do get the best of Venice and the lagoon. Four of the seven nights are spent at San Basilio, or at the Sette Martiri mooring, even closer to Piazza San Marco. You’re in the heart of the city, either way, and are free to explore.

The other three nights depend on water levels in the lagoon. You are almost certain to go to  Chioggia, a fishing community at the far south of the lagoon, and Mazzorbo island, connected to pretty Burano by a foot bridge. The ship is supposed to sail a short distance into the broad Po River but fluctuating water levels sometimes make this impossible.

When the ship stays at Chioggia instead of heading up the Po, shore excursions to Bologna and Ferrara are operated from here, and involve a longer bus journey. There seems little disadvantage to this as the Po is not a scenic river. The banks are lined with trees and reeds, and there’s very little to see.

When you add up all the elements of the cruise — all meals, drinks, activities, gratuities and accommodation — it becomes clear what a competitively priced way this is to spend a week in Venice, in extreme comfort.

Health & Safety

Before Boarding

  • Everybody arriving in Italy has to complete the EU-PLF form and show proof of a COVID-19 antigen test taken no more than 48 hours before departure
  • Uniworld conducts saliva tests on embarkation; not the best way to present yourself to your fellow passengers, spitting into a pot in public, but quick to produce a result, at least.

Onboard

  • Masks must be worn around the ship apart from when eating and drinking.
  • All buffet food is served, not self-service
  • The daily program is presented as a QR code, although paper versions are available on request
  • Menus are also offered on QR codes, with paper versions available on request
  • Heat sensing screens are used to check passengers on and off the ship, recognising your face and taking your temperature at the same time
  • A further mid-cruise saliva test is conducted
  • Mandatory antigen or PCR tests are conducted three days before the end of the cruise, costing from €102pp. Passengers are discouraged from bringing their own tests or heading into town to find a cheaper one. 

Off The Ship

  • Masks must be worn on tour buses
  • There are no restrictions when it comes to exploring alone, although local rules are subject to change
  • You’ll need photo ID and a Covid vaccination certificate to get in anywhere, from museums to churches
  • Masks must be worn in indoor public spaces, unless eating or drinking
  • In theory, Italy requires medical-grade FFP2 or N95 masks on public transport. We didn’t see this being enforced but it’s a good idea to carry one, just in case

Pros

Cons

Bottom Line


About

Passengers : 146
Crew : 42
Passenger to Crew : 3.48:1
Launched : 2002/2020
Shore Excursions : 26

Sails To

Sails From

Inclusions

Included with your cruise fare:

· Main dining room, pizzeria and panini snack bar

· Wide selection of wine, spirits and cocktails

· All shore excursions

· Use of the gym, including classes

· Specialty coffee

· Gratuities

· Drinking water

· Wi-Fi

Not included with your cruise fare:

· Spa treatments

· Dining in La Cantinetta

· Fit to Travel covid testing

· Premium drinks

Fellow Passengers

Most passengers are mature North Americans, mostly couples, with a high number of repeaters. Uniworld also attracts British, Australian and a handful of mainland European passengers. A lot of people take the cruise as part of a longer land tour of northern Italy, so friendships form quickly.

You won’t see many families on La Venezia but in the summer school vacation, Uniworld offers Generations cruises, aimed at a family audience, with excursions and activities geared to younger cruisers.

S.S. La Venezia Dress Code

Daytime: Smart casual, and practical, as most days are spent out on tour. Smart shorts are acceptable in the restaurant at lunchtime, but not swimwear or cover-ups. Respectable dress covering shoulders and knees is required to enter churches ashore.

Evening: Smart casual again. Men wear long pants and collared shirts and women tend to wear smart pants and tops, or cocktail dresses.

Not permitted: There are no hard and fast rules but shorts, baseball caps and T shirts are not generally seen at dinner.

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Find a S.S. La Venezia Cruise from $2,229

More about S.S. La Venezia

Where does S.S. La Venezia sail from?

S.S. La Venezia departs from Venice and Istanbul

Where does S.S. La Venezia sail to?

S.S. La Venezia cruises to Milan, Venice, Trieste, Zurich, and Istanbul

How much does it cost to go on S.S. La Venezia?

Cruises on S.S. La Venezia start from $2,229 per person.
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