Vaporetto Water Buses
Types of water buses
Venice's ACTV transit authority has four main categories of passenger boats. You'll encounter the first two types, vaporetti and motoscafi, on rides within the city center:
The word "vaporetto" is often used to mean any kind of ACTV water bus, but officially, the term refers to flat-decked, single-level vessels such as the boats on Line 1 (Grand Canal to Lido) and Line 2 (Grand Canal and Giudecca Canal).
These vaporetti are fully accessible by wheelchairs, strollers, baby buggies, and wheeled luggage, and there are no steps between the entrance and the passenger cabin. The boats also have large open spaces in the center, by the boarding area, where passengers can stand and enjoy the fresh air. A small open seating area is in the stern, behind the cabin. On older vaporetti, seating is also available in the bow. (Bow seats have been eliminated on newer boats, since clueless passengers sometimes stand up and block the captains' view.)
The average capacity of a vaporetto is 230 passengers.
Motoscafi are more streamlined and protected from the elements than vaporetti are, with fore and aft passenger cabins that are recessed in the hull. They're used on routes such as the 4.1/4.2 and 5.1/5.2, which travel outside the sheltered waters of the Grand Canal, Giudecca Canal, and St. Mark's Basin.
In recent years, motoscafi have been redesigned with space for wheelchairs on the entrance decks. Steps lead down to the passenger cabins, where views are limited by the high, narrow windows. The average capacity of a motoscafo is 160 passengers.
Motonave (single deck)
On a handful of lines such as the Linea 12 route to Murano, Burano, and more distant points in the Venetian Lagoon, ACTV runs single-deck motonavi (motorships) that look like wide-bodied vaporetti. The wheelchair-accessible boats have large twin-aisle cabins, a few open-air seats in the stern, and capacities of up to 600 passengers.
Motonave (double deck)
Double-decked motonavi operate between Venice S. Zaccaria Pietà (near the Piazza San Marco), the Lido, and commuter suburbs in the northern reaches of the Venetian Lagoon. The wheelchair-accessible ships can carry up to 1,200 passengers.
All of the passenger boats shown above are operated by ACTV, and all use the same fares and tickets. (Different fares apply to ACTV car ferries.)
Next page: Traveling by vaporetto