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Venice > Q&A > Cruises

Venice Travel FAQ:

From: Venice Travel FAQ

Venice Marittima cruise terminals from MSC Poesia

ABOVE: Cruise passengers enjoy the view from MSC Poesia in better days, before the Italian government wreaked havoc on Venice's maritime industry.

  • Where are Venice's cruise terminals?

Until recently, Venice had two terminal areas: Marittima (a U-shaped basin  used mostly by large ships) and San Basilio (a long pier which, with the neighboring pier of Santa Marta, was reserved for river vessels and other ships of moderate size).

In 2021, the Italian government decreed that only small cruise ships (typically under 25,000 GRT) could moor within the city's historical center, and cruising in Venice has been a mess ever since.

Some ships are now using piers in the industrial area of Marghera, on the Venetian mainland, while others are arriving and departing at ports as far away as Chioggia, Ravenna, or Trieste (up to two hours from central Venice by bus). For more details, see Venice cruise ports (with maps).

  • How do I know where my ship will depart or arrive?

Check the Venice cruise port's ship schedule, which is available in Italian and English. Better yet, confirm with your cruise line, since not all "Venice" sailings are from Venice these days.

  • How do I get to my ship (or from my ship to the airport or a hotel)?

If you're cruising on a river vessel or other small ship, read our detailed instructions for departing passengers and arriving passengers.

Otherwise, check with your cruise line, since the situation is highly fluid. (The Italian government acted hastily when it banned most cruise ships from central Venice, and confusion has reigned ever since.)

  • Do I need to buy a transfer from the cruise line?

If you're going directly from Marco Polo Airport to the cruise pier, you may find it convenient to use the cruise line's bus, though you'll probably save money by hiring a land taxi or public transportation.

If you're going to the airport to the ship, you may feel more comfortable relying on the cruise line to get you there in time for your flight.

  • Should I book my pre- or post-cruise hotel through the cruise line?

As a rule, we'd say "No," and not just because we hope you'll reserve through our partner, Here's why:

Cruise lines often book their passengers into hotels that aren't convenient for sightseeing. One major American cruise line uses a hotel in Quarto d'Altino, which is 16 km or 10 miles from Venice on the Italian mainland--presumably because the hotel can accommodate large groups and tour buses.

We think you'll have a much nicer experience (and you're likely to save money) by picking one of the hotels in:

Note that, even though your cruise ship may not be sailing from Venice's traditional cruise piers, your cruise line is likely to offer a shuttle from central Venice (typically the Piazzale Roma) to wherever your ship is moored. And if you're sailing on a river vessel or other small ship, you'll still be able to cruise from Marittima or San Basilio/Santa Marta.

  • I've already booked a hotel. Can you tell me how to get there from the airport or cruise pier?

If you're cruising from central Venice, browse our Venice Hotel Directions, where you'll find step-by-step directions (with maps) to 185 or more hotels in the city center.

  • What about shore excursions?

If you enjoy group tours and want to be shepherded from the pier to the city center and back, a shore excursion is worth considering. But don't feel that you have to book an excursion, because Venice is an easy city to explore on your own.

From the Marittima cruise terminals, take the People Mover elevated tramway (just outside the port gates) to the Piazzale Roma and walk to the sights from there. Or you can buy an ACTV ticket at the Hellovenezia booth next to the Piazzale Roma and ride the No. 1 vaporetto up the Grand Canal to the Piazza San Marco.

From the San Basilio pier, the historic center of Venice is just outside the cruise terminal's doors.

From ports on the Italian mainland, you'll need to book a shore excursion or shuttle bus through your cruise line or rely on taxis to reach Venice's historic center.

(Tip: In central Venice, buy a good street map at the nearest newsstand, bookstore, or souvenir stall. And if you need to be back at your ship by a certain hour, allow time for getting lost on your return trip.)

For more about cruising to or from Venice, read the articles in our Venice for Cruisers section.

Back to: Venice Travel FAQ - Introduction

Venice Travel FAQ:
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About the author:

Durant Imboden photo.Durant Imboden has written about Venice, Italy since 1996. He covered Venice and European travel at for 4-1/2 years before launching Europe for Visitors (including Venice for Visitors) with Cheryl Imboden in 2001.

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