—9 May 2012—
We didn’t pull into Venice until 2:00, so the morning was lazy. We prepared for the day with no land in sight on the port side. We visited the breakfast buffet and took our plates out on the pool deck on the starboard side, where land was emerging. We had received a message that our cruise map was ready for pick up, so we stopped by Guest Services to retrieve it. I was disappointed that it was rubber banded and not in a tube for packing. Gonna be hard to get it home in shape to frame. 😦
We ate lunch as the ship pulled into Venice, which took about an hour and a half. We went to the top deck to snap some photos as we got close, then returned to our cabin and took photos from our balcony and prepared to debark at the earliest opportunity, which was just after 2:00.
It took us some time to hook up with 5 other Cruise Critic couples on the pier. We headed for the People Mover… 1€ each to ride what proved to be about 3-4 minutes to the transportation center at Piazza le Roma. Three couples wanted to hook up for a gondola ride after dark. The other three (including us) wanted to do it while we still had the steam. Sue Ellen and John, Barb and Mike and Cece and Fritz, the late group, split off. JJ and Cynthia, Charlene and Dusty, and Jerry and I headed out walking toward San Marco and looking for a gondola deal.
After one abort, we settled on a 150€ offer from Lorenzo for about 45 minutes, including guided narrative. We started on side canals, but also did part of the Grand Canal. We saw the palacio that was purported to have been demolished around Daniel Craig in James Bond – all computer generated and looking very healthy. Lorenzo was a pleasure – a 5th-generation gondolier and amusing as well as informative.
After the gondola ride, we walked on with the others being amazed by buildings, shops and people. When we realized it was about 5:00 and we still needed to reconnoiter our Hotel Ala, we bade the others adieu and pressed on for St. Mark’s, meandering another 20-30 minutes before we finally arrived. We were flagging, but managed to snap a few photos around the square as we crossed it heading the few “blocks” to the hotel. We found it, having crossed two bridges, and spoke to the man at the desk to confirm that we knew the transportation options and there would be no assistance from the hotel. Walk, water bus, or water taxi were our choices. We headed for the vaporetto (water bus) down the quaintest narrow alley between two buildings and caught it to the Piazza le Roma, which proved to be close to a 30-minute trip at rush hour.
We were running on empty when we got to the ship (via People Mover and a long walk on the pier), but we had connected with a fellow passenger, Shuchen from Boston, and agreed to try to split the costs of a water taxi (80€+) to our hotel next day, so Jerry headed for the cabin and I went with Shuchen to Guest Services to inquire about making a reservation. The ship wasn’t in the water taxi reservation business, so Shuchen and I agreed to meet next day at the water taxi stand. I then queued to buy euros.
It was probably 7:30 when I got to the room. We dragged ourselves to Raffles buffet for a quick dinner (pasta and cookies for me), then stopped by Galaxy of the Stars for take out wine and headed for our cabin to pack up. It took us a bit longer than estimated, but we had separated our overnight needs and packed the rest by 10:30, when we put the bags outside our door for pick up well ahead of the midnight deadline. They were transported by elves in the night to the luggage pick up area ashore. Our debark time was 9:30 AM, so we didn’t even set an alarm, but fell into bed.