1st February, 2020
It is hard to describe the serene feeling as you cruise soundlessly through its waters… VENICE is truly a wonder, arguably Europe’s most beautiful city and in spite of the reports of how it is sinking into the sea, it appears to stay afloat!
Our sail in on February 1, 2020 started at 7.00am as our guests were invited to a ‘Sunrise over Venice’ for a champagne arrival celebration in the Britannia Lounge. Although the weather looked a bit misty, the panoramic aspect of the Britannia Lounge is the perfect opportunity to mark our arrival together and in style with the accompaniment of some Italian inspired music from the Lirica Piano Quartet. Deck 14 Observation area and the Heli Area on Deck 7 were also open for those guests who wished to view our arrival from the open decks.
A slightly delayed arrival led to a bit of congestion at the onset for both tour and independent guests, as the Explore Ashore team co-ordinated the shuttle boats at the pontoon area. All guests had to get through the terminal area to gain access to these boats. So a slow initial start, but a great turn out as the day unfolded.
The canal bustling with watercraft: vaparettos, water taxis, motor launches, squat barges and the ubiquitous black gondolas. One can only visualize Venice in her heyday when gilded barges plied the waterways and gondoliers cruised the canals. The grandeur of the Doges still exists in the elaborate Palaces and residences that flank the wide cobblestone plaza of San Marco; the hotels and houses where famous writers and noble families once lived.
Venice as one knows, getting around by boat is the main means of transportation. There are no cars. A good way to see the city and the outlying islands is by vaparetto, the waterbuses that ply Venice's canals along with the fleets of other craft. Buying a day pass is a great way to get around so you can hop on and off at any stop.
Our first day ended with Venice’s’ Night Time Concert: Baroque & the Opera, a truly remarkable experience with guests humming pieces from Puccini’s ‘Tosca’ and Verdi’s ‘La Traviata’ on their return back to the ship.
Day two of our stay in Venice (February 2, 2020), the city seemed to be unusually deserted, except for the early morning artists sitting at their easels in front of the Doge’s Palace.
We can only imagine Venice at the height of her season, the lagoon and canals crowded with tourists. We had tours further afield to Murano and Burano and to the local Academia Galleries.
The morning and early afternoon was absorbed with goodbyes to our disembarking guests and welcoming our embarking guests some of who are virgin cruisers to our Saga family. Despite the city being in total lock down for approximately four hours due to a World War II bomb detonation, we as a ship were not directly affected with tours and the rest of the disembarkation process thus resulting in a very successful operation.
Whether you ventured out to enjoy the grandeur of the Doges Palace, made your way to the Rialto bridge, witness the soft splash of the gondoliers’ poles or walked the cobblestone plaza of San Marco, this city dappled with true light is the Mistress of the seas, an enchanting seductress.
Tanya Pinto, Explore Ashore Team
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