Venice anyone?

So many great questions are being asked in the posts, and I will answer them all in tomorrows blog. Today I had already written this blog in answer to an earlier question.

A reader asked me where my favorite place or area for cruising is. And it took me almost 3 nanoseconds to decide on the Mediterranean. The med is the most amazing itinerary all because of three stops, Monte Carlo, Venice and Istanbul. I love Venice, if you have never been to Venice then I am afraid I must insist you stop living your life immediately, mortgage your house ( again), sell your car, borrow from your friends, send your kids off to Grandma’s house and do whatever else you have to do and get yourself to Venice by ship. Do it now.

There is nothing like sailing up the Canal Della Giudecca and gliding elegantly past St. Marks square on the deck of a one hundred ten thousand ton floating work of art. I once joined the Grand Princess (started my contract) in Venice. It was my first time there. I was flying in from Vancouver and my flight route took me around the world about fifty times (crew flights are free, but not always convenient) so my total travel time was around twenty seven hours including an 8 hour lay over in London. I got in at about 6:00pm. I was picked up by the local agent (all cruise lines employ local “agents” who assist with everything from obtaining ship clearance to picking up crew and passengers from the airports) and driven at incredibly high speeds down pencil thin liberally cornered Italian roads from the airport to Venice itself (in a beautiful Mercedes e-class I fell in love with, wish I could afford one!). This was before I was married with children so I didn’t have the same fear for my life as I do now and I actually enjoyed the high risk ride.

Instead of taking me to a hotel to rest for the night and joining the ship in the morning, they took me directly to the ship as it was doing an overnight in Venice (normal for this itinerary). I guess they wanted to save money on hotel rooms since the ship was already in port. This ticked me off a bit because as crew, we relish the overnight in a hotel before the joining day. You can rest up, clean up, and get into the right mind set for another six months at sea. You NEED this time.

We arrived on the pier at 8:00pm and I went directly onboard. I was joining the Grand for my third time so I knew the people and the ship very well. I went to report to the PSD (Passenger Services Director, the Hotel Manager and four stripe executive officer) that I had arrived (it’s a ship custom to do this, he's the boss) and then to crew office where I got keys to a cabin for the night. I was SO tired I could hardly stand up. Instead of sleeping however my friends grabbed me and took me off the ship with them to go into Venice for a welcome aboard Chinese dinner (Venice has great Chinese, and if your on a ship that is doing an overnight ANYWHERE it is an abhorrent crime for crew if they don't get off and enjoy the town. We rarely get to be off the ship at night as overnights are so rare). Before I even knew what was going on we were off the ship and onboard a Vaporetto (a water taxi, because Venice’s roads are all canals).

It was amazing to me, riding in this water taxi past all the amazing architecture of Venice. I couldn’t wrap my head around anything I was so over the top from the long journey, so I just looked around and went with the flow. The water taxi finally pulled up to a station, we disembarked (got off) and walked about one hundred feet and then suddenly, quite suddenly, I was simply overwhelmed with what I was seeing. It was almost 10:30pm now, I had reached the ship two hours before and had been traveling more than twenty hours before that… and suddenly without warning here I was standing in the middle of St. Marks Square surrounded by palaces, cathedrals, giant angels and a thousand years of history. It was so stunning and surreal and overwhelming I just stood there. If I had not been surrounded by my friends I would have just sat down in the middle of the square and wept at the magnitude of it all.

Eventually I got control of myself. The Chinese was EXCELLENT and the GRAPPA and LIMONCELLO were also excellent, a little too excellent now that I think about it. So excellent in fact that after about five of each it seemed logical and sane for us to swim the canal back to the ship at 3:00am rather than take a water taxi. But that’s another story.

Really, trust me on this. Go to Venice by cruise ship. And when your there buy a carnival mask, drink the Grappa and Limoncello and eat Chinese. There is nothing like it.
6 Responses
  1. Anonymous Says:

    Hi there! Found a link to your blog over at I LOVE the idea that I can read about your experiences and find "inside" info about cruises first-hand. I will take your survey, and will definitely be back to read more!

    By the way, I find the cruising way of life fascinating. My husband and I took our first cruise last October, and are planning another on this Christmas. On our first cruise, I really enjoyed talking with the staff and getting to know them... I feel like I'm getting to know you through your blog!

    - mangowife =)

  2. Brian Says:

    OK - the story of you ending up in St. Marks square almost had me weeping.

    Please keep up with the stories...they are brilliant.

  3. Anonymous Says:

    I'm interested in how you balance our life on board with your family life at home. Four kids?? How'd that even happen? :)

  4. Anonymous Says:

    OK. You have convinced me. Next year the Med. I have always wanted to see Venice but was told to do a land vacation. But I really love cruising. So I'm going! Could you tell me how easy or hard it is to be married and out at sea for months at a time. I would think it would be very difficult to keep a relationship, let alone a marriage, going while working on a ship. I really love your site and will read it often. Thank you

  5. Anonymous Says:

    Just disembarked the Grand this a.m., I'm back at my computer, and have bookmarked your blog. I will cruise vicariously through you!

    Thanks for blogging. I and others will be lapping it up and waiting for more.

    Mrs. McD

  6. Mike Says:

    Awesome post! A Mediterranean cruise is on my list of "To Cruise" list now. Thanks and keep up the great blogging!

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