River Countess Cruise Photos
Day 7: Venice
On Saturday, the seventh morning of our cruise, we had this view of the Riva dei Sette Martiri from our cabin. The day was off to a damp start, but--more important--acqua alta or tidal flooding had been forecast for late morning. This required a change in the day's itinerary: The scheduled walking tour of the low-lying Rialto food markets had been postponed until afternoon, and we'd spend the morning cruising in the northern part of the Venetian Lagoon.
A guide came aboard River Countess shortly before our newly-scheduled departure time of 9 a.m., the gangway was hauled in, and a worker from the Port of Venice arrived in a small boat to remove the ship's lines from the bollards along the Riva.
Soon, the port worker was on his way, and so were we. (The officer on the bridge in the second photo is Thijs Van der Lee, who will be First Captain of River Countess in 2015.)
Out in the Lagoon, we passed ACTV water buses, sightseeing
boats, and other water traffic.
We cruised past the Port of Venice's pilot station on the Lido di Venezia, where harbor pilots are dispatched to guide oceangoing cruise ships in and out of port.
After half an hour or so, we crossed the Porto di Lido, the main channel for passenger ships between the Adriatic Sea and the Venetian Lagoon.
Work was progressing slowly on the MOSE Project, which is designed to protect Venice and other areas of the Lagoon from extreme tidal flooding. (Although the need for the project has been disputed, the concept isn't radical: MOSE was inspired by London's Thames Barrier and the Maeslant Storm Barrier near Rotterdam.)
River Countess cruised near the shore at Punta Sabbioni, on the strip of mainland that forms the northeastern arm of the Venetian Lagoon. In this photo, you can see the ACTV station where water buses (including large motonavi, or motorships) collect and drop off suburban commuters.
Here, Cheryl snaps a photo of a No. 12 waterbus on its way between Punta Sabbioni and the island of Burano in the northern Lagoon.
As we came closer to Burano, we encountered fishermen or clammers in small boats just outside the navigation channel. (At low tide, the boats might have been inside the channel, because many areas of the Venetian Lagoon are only inches deep when the seawater recedes.)
A few minutes later, River Countess approached Burano, which was visible across an expanse of marshland.
As the ship cruised slowly toward the island, it became easier to see out the brightly-painted houses that lined the waterfront:
We soon passed the Burano ACTV waterbus station, which wasn't big enough to accommodate our ship. (In 2016, Burano will have a new double pontoon for vessels like River Countess, and passengers will be able to visit Burano on shore excursions.)
Just beyond Burano (top photo) is the island of Mazzorbo, which is connected to Burano by a footbridge. Mazzorbo is a mostly rural island with an innovative small housing project (lower photo) that was designed by architect Giancarlo De Carlo in the early 1980s.
To the north of Burano is Torcello, which preceded Venice as the center of life and activity on the Venetian Lagoon. In this photo, you can see the island's magnificent Basilica of Santa Maria Assunta, which was begun in 639 A.D. (Torcello once had a population of 20,000. Today, only a handful of inkeepers and farmers live on the island.)
On the way back to Venice from Burano and Torcello, River Countess offered a winetasting and lecture in the Castillo Lounge.
It wasn't long until we were back in St. Mark's Basin, with the bell towers of Venice's historic center visible through the fog.
It was almost lunchtime, and Executive Chef Daniel Triku enjoyed a short break on deck as we approached our mooring on the Riva dei Sette Martiri.
As River Countess neared the Riva, we passed the French ship Michelangelo before backing into our berth.
On the Riva, tourists were still wearing disposable plastic boots that they'd bought to cope with the acqua alta in St. Mark's Square.
Although the pavement was wet, the flood tide had gone down and life was back to normal in Venice, which meant we'd be able to enjoy our rescheduled walking tour of the Rialto markets after lunch.
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