Wheelchair Accessibility on Venice’s Vaporetto
Venice Vaporetto Accessibility – The vaporetto in Venice are a great way for disabled visitors to get around Venice. Although not all docks are accessible all the time (depending on how crowded the boat is), the vaporetto make for an easy way to avoid bridges.
The vaporetto are designed to float at the same level as the floating docks making for a flat transfer between the boat and the dock. Many times of day, the boat is full of travelers and it floats a little lower than the dock. The difference can be the size of a large curb (about 10 inches or 25 cm). Crowded boats are most normally found on the Grand Canal between the train station and San Marco. At the train station and San Marco docks, most people get off the boat so you have a level entrance/exit with good Venice vaparetto accessibility.
The picture on the left was taken from one of the boat docks as the vaporetto approached. The #1 vaporetto line is wheelchair accessible as shown in the picture on the right.
The docks float in the water and rise and lower with the tide. The ramp to get from the shore to the dock is shown below. Most times of day it is flat, although sometimes there can be a slight incline to it.
At the end of the ramp is a small striped ramp shown in the pictures below.
At many times of day and in many places, the boat is level with the dock and there is only a 1 inch gap between the two. In these instances, wheelchair users and mobility scooter users will have no problems with wheelchair accessibility on Venice vaporetto.
At other times, the boat is full of people and it floats a little lower than the dock. The height difference between the two can be as large as 30 cm (1 foot). As such, accessibility at a Venice vaporetto dock can change depending on the time of day.
The two pictures below are taken from the dock and show boats floating lower in the water. Many electric wheelchair users would not be able to get on or off the boat in this instance. Notice that the doors on the vaporetto are different. Some of the boats have the single solid door shown on the left. Other boats have the door with 3 rails shown on the right. The boats with 3 rails actually have two doors – the main door that is normally used and a door further to the front of the boat. The door further to the front is a little higher on the boat and is more likely to have level access. If there main door is uneven with the dock, you can ask the boatman to open the front door for you. If you need a wheelchair accessible water taxi, we can provide it as part of our Venice Accessible Travel Package.
Video of getting off the vaparetto when there is a big height difference:
While most Venice residents walk across bridges to get around, elderly residents and parents with strollers like those shown in the picture below will need to maximize their use of the vaporetto.
A boatman (or boatwoman in this case) will throw a rope from the boat to the dock to tie off the boat. Sometimes there is a boatman also on the dock and the two of them may be able to assist you getting off the boat. You can also ask one of the passengers to help.
There is a spot inside the covered area of the vaporetto that is designated for wheelchair. Sometimes the boatman will ask you to move to that spot so that you are not in the way of people getting on and off the boat. If there are people standing in this spot, they generally know that they need to move out of the way. Staying inside is nice if it’s cold but the views are better outside.
The picture below was taken from the area reserved for wheelchairs looking at the area near the door. In this instance there are few people standing in the area near the door, and there is plenty of space to move around.
These pictures give an idea of how crowded it can get on the vaporetto boats causing them to be more challenging in terms of Venice wheelchair accessibility.
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