Tuesday, December 5, 2023
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How To Spoil the End of a Cruise, Azamara Style

The highlight of our 12-night cruise aboard Azamara Journey was, without question, a two-night stay in Venice. No matter how often you visit this fantastic city, there is always much more to see and wonder about.

We were the only ship docked at Koper, Slovenia (the last port before Venice), and I think we discovered why – there is little to see or do there – before heading to Venice via the port of Chioggia. Again we were on our own – and the reason quickly became evident.

This port is around 53km from Venice. (As readers will be aware, On July 13, 2021, Italy permanently banned large cruise ships from entering the Venice Lagoon (via Giudecca Canal) and docking at downtown terminals. Venice City is currently served by two cruise ports – Porto Venice (locode ITVCE, for smaller ships and riverboats) and Porto Marghera (for large liners). Marghera to Venice takes about six minutes.

Viking use the port of Fusina, about 18 km from Venice. Even though Azamara brags about being a smaller ship with the ability to get closer to destinations, we were about one and a half hours away from Venice by water taxi. Don’t think about using a taxi we were told – it could cost hundreds of euros – and the rail station is too far away. Azamara does not provide shuttles (still wondering why), so everyone wanting to enter the wonderful city had to pay 79 euros for the privilege.Train Service

We walked to the water taxi in the morning, and it soon became apparent that there would not be a single seat to spare on either deck. People were even sitting on shelves on the lower level.

Passengers having to climb to the second level at the vessel’s rear were faced with a slippery near-vertical ladder with tiny steps. It is a miracle no one was injured. What followed was a long and tedious trip in a toxic atmosphere. The windows were frosted over, and moisture kept dripping down from above. (Mr Covid must have been overjoyed.)

There was commentary all the way – but no one could hear it. One thing everyone did understand, however, was that there would only be one return trip – and if you missed the taxi, you were on your own. The next day we finally disembarked – our suitcases were picked up during the night and the next morning loaded onto coaches.

We arrived at an automated rail station to Venice an hour or so later. “You have to buy a ticket and go on the train to the first stop we were told – and then you can pick up a water taxi.” I could see a big sign nearly saying water taxi to Venice – but no, the Azamara woman insisted – this is the only way to go.

So we purchased tickets (quickly and easily), got on to the train with our bags and got off at the first of two stops. While walking out, an official wondered what we were doing – “you can’t come here unless you are joining a ship – you have to get back on the train.”

Back we go – one stop later, we can see the taxi terminal and finally head to our accommodation. No fun at all, and more than half the day was gone. What a shambles – and adding insult to injury was catching up with another passenger at the airport the next day who told us “that Azamara woman had no idea.

We just walked across to the water taxi sign from the bus and got a ride to our hotel for 20 euros.”

 

 

 

WRITTEN BY: IAN MCINTOSH

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