Disabled Access in the Venice Cruise Port
By John Sage
Venice cruise port disabled access is actually far more wheelchair accessible than most people think. Disabled cruisers have multiple options to get from the cruise dock into the city including the vaparetto, the People Mover, and wheelchair accessible water taxis.
Although there are over 400 bridges in Venice, wheelchair users can avoid them completely if they stick with accessible routes in each neighborhood and use accessible vaparetto boats or accessible water taxis to get between neighborhoods.
Many first-time visitors to Venice will want to spend at least half their day in the St. Mark’s neighborhood visiting the accessible Doge’s Palace and the accessible St. Mark’s Basilica. Smart travelers will make sure to spend some of their valuable time outside of the St. Mark’s neighborhood, where they can experience the majesty of Venice’s small streets and canals without the masses of tourists.
away from the tourist crowds in St. Mark’s Square!
I gave the Venice cruise port a 3 Star Sage Accessibility Rating because many disabled cruise passengers will be able to reach the tourist parts of the city without making advanced reservations. It did not get a higher rating because visitors will need to manage the step onto the vaporetto boats. Consequently, it did not get the higher ratings that I gave to the Istanbul cruise port, the Mykonos cruise port, and the Naples cruise port.
Accessible Cruise Docks in Venice
Disabled passengers will need to figure out which of the cruise docks their ship will be using (we take care of this for you as part of our accessible cruise packages). Which dock you arrive at will determine your options for how you get into central Venice. You will either arrive at the Stazione Marattima port, the San Marta port, or the San Basilio port.
Location of Venice accessible cruise docks
Venice Embarkation and Cruise Check-in for the Disabled
Disabled travelers who start their cruise in Venice won’t have too much difficulty checking in and boarding. When you approach the port (whether on foot or by car), follow the signs (shown in the photo on the left) showing where your boat is docked. If you’re on foot, stay on the red and white pedestrian walkways (shown in the photo on the right). The paths are flat and smooth.
The walkway leads to baggage drop-off underneath the white tents. If you drop-off you bags, they will arrive in your room a couple of hours later.
The cruise terminal is a large check-in hall with a special line for disabled assistance.
After going through security, you will head to the elevator to bring you up to the accessible walkways.
Two other photos of the accessible walkways onto the ships are shown below:
There are multiple large elevators up to walkways that lead to the cruise ship. They have plenty of room for wheelchair users and luggage.
A photo of walkway onto cruise ship is shown below. After you get on the ship, you’ll need to present your boarding card and the cruise staff will take a photo of you for their records.
Disabled Access at Venice’s Stazione Maratime Cruise Port
Most cruise ships (and all the large ones) dock at the Stazione Maratime port. Venice cruise port disabled access at Stazione Maratime is good. Just like the rest of Venice, all areas are flat. There are no cobblestones and wheelchair users will appreciate the concrete surfaces.
The Stazione Maratime accessible Venice cruise port is located at the far western end of Venice, near the bridge to the mainland. It has a U-shape to it. There are several cruise terminals at the port and your ship may park inside the U or outside the U.
If you are not starting or ending your cruise in Venice, you may be able to skip the cruise terminals. Instead, you may go through a metal detector in a small covered area (shown in the photo on the right). This is where your tour guide can meet you for an accessible tour of Venice.
There are step-free routes to exit the accessible Venice cruise port (shown in the photo on the left). The photo on the right shows the elevated “People Mover” monorail that connects the port neighborhood to the Piazzale Roma neighborhood where you can start your vaparetto ride down the Grand Canal.
Getting from the Stazione Maratime Cruise Port into the City
There are 3 accessible options to get into the city:
1) People Mover + the #1 or #2 vaporetto boat down the Grand Canal (scenic but complex)
2) The Alilaguna M boat directly to St. Mark’s Square (quicker but crowded)
3) Accessible water taxi (quickest and easiest)
Venice Cruise Port Accessibility Map
Option 1: Accessible Travel down the Grand Canal by People Mover & Vaporetto
Depending on where your cruise ship docks, you may have to walk/roll up to 1.2 km to reach the People Mover. The step-free route from the furthest spot in the port is shown in the map below.
You’ll be able to see the elevated People Mover above the street. When you reach it, you’ll need to buy a ticket from the machine (don’t worry, it’s in English).
You’ll then insert your ticket into the machine and pass through the gates shown in the photo below on the left. There is an elevator to get up to the platform level.
The small platform has automatic doors and flat access onto the People Mover.
When you get off the People Mover, you’ll need to take the elevator to the ground, then walk/roll 250 meters along the step-free route shown below to the wheelchair accessible Piazzale Roma vaparetto dock.
Get on #1 or #2 boat heading to the right (towards the train station and St. Mark’s Square). Electric wheelchair users may have difficulty getting onto the vaparetto boat due to the height difference between the dock and the boat. Read more about Venice vaparetto accessibility.
Option 2: Accessible Travel to St. Mark’s Square by Alilaguna Blu (also known as Alilaguna M)
To get from the cruise dock to the Alilaguna dock, you will have to follow the route shown in the map below. The route that you will need to walk/roll could be as long as 850 meters depending on where your cruise ship parks.
The main cruise terminal building (shown in the photo below on the left) will be on your left as you approach the Alilaguna dock. You will need to go down the wheelchair accessible Venice cruise port ramp (shown in the photo on the right) to reach the dock.
The photo on the left shows the view as you are at the dock looking at the towering cruise ships on both sides. The photo on the right was taken from the Alilaguna M boat approaching the Stazione Maratime dock.
On the left, you can see the Alilaguna staff members lifting me (John Sage) onto the boat. Notice the height difference between the dock and the boat. Many heavy electric wheelchairs will be unable to be lifted onto the boat. On the right, nearly everyone goes down 5 or 6 steps to the seated areas. Strollers and wheelchair users can stay up top near the captain.
The Alilaguna M can have long lines when cruise ships are in port. The photo below was taken at the San Marco dock in the afternoon. Long lines and crowds are two of the biggest drawbacks of using the Alilaguna boats.
Option 3: Wheelchair Accessible Water Taxi Transportation
Vaporetto boats can have long lines both leaving the cruise dock and getting back to the cruise dock. There could be 5 ships with 3000 people each in port at the same time!
If you don’t want to wait in long lines and fight the crowds, a private wheelchair accessible water taxi makes for a much easier, much quicker, and much more relaxing ride. You can also hire a private guide for an excellent accessible guided tour of Venice.
Disabled Access at San Basilio & San Marta Cruise Docks
The San Basilio and & San Marta cruise docks are used by smaller cruise ships and are located to the east of the Stazione Maratime cruise port. They have much poorer accessibility than the main dock.
While most cruise passengers who want to take the vaparetto simply cross a bridge to get to a nearby vaparetto dock, wheelchair tourists don’t have it so easy. They will have to roll 1.8 km to the Piazzale Roma vaparetto dock.
to the Piazzale Roma vaparetto dock
The San Basilio cruise terminal is shown in the photo on the left. The photo on the right shows the bridge (with steps) that connects the San Basilio cruise dock and the San Basilio vaparetto dock.
The pedestrian walkway connecting the San Marta cruise dock and the San Basilio cruise dock is shown in the photos below. There are no steps on the route.
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