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Hoopster95

SERENADE Sept 17-28,2014 REVIEW w/lots of photos

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Sailing in to Venice has to be a bucket-list item for any cruise addict. Those of you who have been on a million Bahamas/Caribbean cruises but never the Med, get out there!!! These pictures just do not do this experience justice at all. The scenery as we continue through is outright beautiful.

 

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If you were to zoom into previous photos you would see the Bell Tower at St. Mark's square in the distance poking out over-top of the city. Now as we breach around the final corner of land on the island, the Doge's Palace and St. Mark's come into full view. You cannot help but notice the "oohs" & "aahs" of the buzz going on all around me with all the happy cruisers experiencing this moment

 

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Looking back from where Serenade had entered

 

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Getting closer!!

 

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Sailing in to Venice has to be a bucket-list item for any cruise addict. Those of you who have been on a million Bahamas/Caribbean cruises but never the Med, get out there!!! These pictures just do not do this experience justice at all. The scenery as we continue through is outright beautiful.

 

I cannot agree more with this statement. We did Venice last year and sailed in the early morning. It was simply spectacular.

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I continue to shoot in movie mode. Many of the photos you've seen and will see below I captured while filming. Unreal! Surreal! The St. Mark's Square sail-in to Venice I had thought about and planned for a few years is now right here in front of me. So totally awesome.

 

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I'll point out now that Grand Canal is directly front center, but cruise traffic travel through the larger channel to the left to get around to the cruise terminal.

 

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And now the moment has come and here we are.....

 

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And finally the money shot... Is that not totally awesome?!?!

 

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Thank you for your input Windjamming... the word "Spectacular" is an understatement me thinks :)

At this point we're still about 15min from the pier, so the experience is still far from over, as are the photo opportunities.

 

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I thought right there I was really glad I had checked out my place to stand for sail-in... any side rail back from this spot and I would never be able to get the forward view and photos like the one below. Any further forward and I would not be able to have the incredible unobstructed side photos. The rails forward and back on all decks were packed, so where you stand all you get... you could not move and then get your spot back as it would be immediately taken by someone behind you. If you love your memories and your photos as much as I do, choose wisely

 

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Yet another 2 money shots, zoomed and normal, looking back at St Mark's.... picture postcard perfect!!!

 

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We sail the final slow corner in order to approach the pier. I take a few final shots back from where we had come.

 

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And now the pier is very close. We can make out 4 larger ships is the port itself with the two smaller ships right in front of us docked in the channel.

 

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The very cool "Star Clipper" was here!

 

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As was 1st cousin to RCCL, the Azamara "Quest"

 

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The Venice Cruise Terminal is HUGE. If I remember correctly, it can handle 11 ships... and has done so on a couple of occasions to the chagrin of the guide who mentioned it. The number of people walking the small streets must've been nuts on those days. Here we have 5 big ships in port including Serenade. There are two X (Celebrity) ships, the Silhouette and Equinox. Equinox was about a 1/2 hour in front of us as we sailed in and I do have a few pics if her in the distance as we sailed in. I didn't know at the time, but Silhouette was preparing to leave Venice.

 

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The smaller ship docked to the right in front is Silhouette is the Fred Olsen "Braemar" I had photo'd cruising into Malta

 

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And here we are pulling in to port. As you can see, the terminal building itself is massive, and there are several numbered sections for the various terminals serving each separate ship. The ship across the way is a P&O ship, the "Ventura"

 

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I was hungry! So rather than line-up with thousands of others to get off the ship, I went down to my stateroom to plug in my camera and then headed to Windjammer for lunch. I wasn't alone... it wasn't packed, but it wasn't empty either. However by the time I had finished my food, the place had cleared out quite a bit. I headed down to my stateroom to get ready for the day. My camera wasn't quite fully charged so I chilled out for 10 minutes going over my plans for the day.

 

Today I had planned to walk Venice with no commitment until later in the evening. I had booked an on-line evening walking tour staring at 7pm as I thought that would be interesting and now I hoped it would be better than my Rome night tour experience.... more on this later when I get to it.

 

I was ready to get out there. And the gangway was a ghost-town! Pretty much everyone had rushed out I think. From my previous Venice port experience, I feel this is one of the best and easiest ports to navigate as a foot passenger. You just head on out of the terminal building by following the signs and escalator past the security area, and simply start walking.

 

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How easy... just walk along the marker pedestrian path. Will you get lost coming back? Nope... it's all clearly labelled.

 

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At the farthest point of the pier closest to Venice is Terminal 107, and there's the Equinox that was moored in front of Serenade as we pulled in.

 

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Keep following the pedestrian lined path... see the covered building up ahead to the right? That's the "People Mover" overhead train that takes you into the Piazza Romana, basically the start of Venice for tourists. Simply follow the pedestrian path until you reach there.

 

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The ticket vending machines give you an option of 10 languages. Select English and follow along... this is as easy as any subway or bus in North America. Insert the 1.30 euro (or a cash bill and it spits out change), take your ticket to the turnstyle, validate it and in you go

 

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Head up the escalator and wait a minute or two for your train. In about 3 minutes you'll be let out in a building at the Piazza Romana across the street from the bus station and also what I personally consider is the "entry" into Venice for foot traffic. From the "bong" of my seapass card on the gangway to the Piazza Romana was about 20 minutes total.

 

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Thanks for the helpful Venice port pictures! We sail out of Venice on Splendour in two weeks and I haven't seen many pics of the port.

 

 

Sent from my iPad using Forums

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I assume that all of us have seen iconic photos at one time or another of St. Marks Square & Basilica, Doge's Palace, etc so I'll keep the next few sections brief(er). Crossing the foot bridge over the canal from the Bus station you get to the point where I call it the "entry" into Venice. From the point below you're only a 5 minute walk back up to the People Mover back to the cruise terminals.

 

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As evidenced in Rome, Venice also seems to be in a state of construction/repair/cleaning of it's most important treasures.

 

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I find the walk super easy and truly fun. It's about a 30-40 minute walk to the famous Ponte Rialto from "the entry". Everywhere you go the streets are clearly labelled with yellow signs that tell you how to get there.

 

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Walking back to the cruise terminal is exactly the same... follow the white signs labelled Piazalle Roma (note Ferrovia is the train station). Here's a hint for you: there is the odd time where you're following the St. Marks signs and you have to turn one way or another without a sign. You might think you're lost. Just look behind you to find the white "Piazza Roma" signs and go exactly the opposite way! The very next street you'll likely find another yellow sign to get you on track

 

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With 6 ships in port, I predicted the streets in and around the main tourist sites of Ponte Rialto & St Mark's would be crazy busy.... and it was. Here's the main street as you turn the corner leading up to the stairs of the Rialto bridge up ahead

 

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And here I am up the bridge looking back down the street I had come from

 

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Heading down off the bridge

 

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I have more great pictures tomorrow in the early morning with much fewer people so I'll end this segment with the iconic shot of the bridge from below

 

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Thanks for the helpful Venice port pictures! We sail out of Venice on Splendour in two weeks and I haven't seen many pics of the port.

 

 

Sent from my iPad using Forums

 

Your welcome kebhouse. I wish I knew what terminal# she docks at, maybe someone can post and compare it to the photo I had as we entered with the 4 ships in the terminal. In two weeks? Are you doing the Dubrovnik/Santorini itinerary? AWESOME!!!! I'll have Dubrovnik pictures up in this review in the next few days.

 

Have a great cruise! :D

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As the previous post, many of us have seen images of St. Mark's square so I'll keep this short. The walk from Ponte Rialto to St. Mark's is 15-20 minutes and very easy. The rewards are there for you when you get there

 

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I love this set of pics. I didn't know but I couldn't have timed it any better walking towards the water and seeing the Silhouette peeking behind the building as it was sailing away. Brought back memories of just a couple of short hours ago of our sail-in. I noticed that the Silhouette helipad was full, and that was my plan for tomorrow's sailaway to experience the Venice views from a different perspective. Seeing so many cruisers out there, it re-enforced that's what I was going to do as well.

 

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The famous "Bridge of Sighs". It's really not much, but has huge historical significance. I did visit the Doge's Palace the next day, so I'll have interior photos of the Palace, the bridge and prisoner cells tomorrow.

 

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And finally Doge's Palace itself

 

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I decided to head to my tour meeting point early as I wanted to make sure I knew how tho find the Gallerie dell'Accademia which is over the Accademia bridge to the other side island in a community called Dusodoro. With a little over an hour before my tour I headed away from St. Marks towards the Vaporetto pier and down the streets. I snapped a few shots as I went.

 

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Within about 10 minutes I reach this main square. The Accademia Bridge is straight ahead with great view up and down the canal of a less "commercialized" perspective.

 

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I reached the front of the gallery from St. Mark's in about 20-25 minutes. People were already gathering, and I noticed the guides handing out stickers. So I went and registered but quickly left in order to explore for the half hour I had before the tour. I made may way through past the Peggy Guggenheim Museum, the St Maria of Salute Basilica to the Modern Art Museum at the corner tip of the island which faces out towards St. Marks

 

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I got back to the tour meeting point with about 10 minutes to spare. Soon we were on our way on the Venice evening tour I had booked on-line.

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I was again unfortunately disappointed with this tour... turns out both evening tours (Rome) were my least favorite on the entire 13 days I traveled.

 

I was under the impression that this tour would hit some of the main areas of Venice such as Rialto, but it didn't. Instead we spent the entire 1 1/2 hours strolling around the Dusodoro neighborhood which really doesn't have a whole lot. Much of the info narrated by the guide was actually really good such as the cistern/well system and all the old wells located in Venice, the address numbering system, etc... but this is stuff for a day tour. In the evening I think you're there for the ambiance and sites, not the facts in residential neighborhoods.

 

To compound things, my photos were crap! lol. I ended up with not many decent photos as the night light changed. Plus my camera was almost at zero so I thought at any minute it would crash. Having said that I did get a few ok shots as memories of my evening.

 

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Here's the Star Clipper departing in the evening

 

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The last 30-40 minutes of this tour was a gondola ride. With the motion of the the boat, it was impossible to take decent night shots with focus in the little light provided. I loved the boat ride itself with the "driver" singing in Italian every once in a while, but we really didn't go anywhere, sailing within little streets that were not lit up with restaurants/people so that we can enjoy the ride and lights of Venice. This was disappointing.

 

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The gondola ride ended on the same side as St. Marks, about half way from the Accademia Bridge, so it was an easy walk back there. I took a couple of shots of the square at night and I was ready to head "home" to the Serenade as it was approx 10pm.

 

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I took the #1 Vaporetto back to the Cruise terminal. For those of you who don't know, the Vaporetto are the water buses, and like any bus in North America there are Vaporetto stops (bus stops). You buy your ticket from the vendor and enter through the turnstile... easy! The walk through to the People Mover and out through the streets where the cruise terminal is was very easy and did not at all feel creepy. While there weren't many cruisers coming home that late, there were a few. From St. Mark's Vaporetto to the the "bong" of my seapass at the gangway it took about an hour.

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There were minimal activities offered on the ship on this evening as RCL suspected most cruisers would likely be ashore, and most of the excursions looked to me to be 4-5 hours and thus last until 8pm'ish. In speaking with my table mates the next evening, 2 of them made 6:30 dinner and the MDR was empty. However, there was a top-deck poolside Toga Party offered this night starting at 10pm. I quickly freshened up a bit and headed up. Most of my friends were up there and I joined in. It was not a huge event as I feel many cruisers were likely spent and wanting a good sleep for an early morning in Venice. We had a ton of fun up there for a good hour and then it was bedtime for me as I wanted an early start tomorrow as well, looking forward to Doge Palace and St. Mark's Basilica tours and hopefully getting up the Bell Tower.

 

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This is a wonderful review. Thank you so much for taking the time to post your comments and photos.

 

Venice is truly beautiful!

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This is a wonderful review. Thank you so much for taking the time to post your comments and photos.

 

Venice is truly beautiful!

 

Thx SkytheLimit (and all of you!) for following along. I'm guilty of not fully reading, or quickly scrolling through, long text heavy reviews. Also guilty of only scanning through reviews of ports that I have already done or just plain not interested in. This thread got several thousand hits the first few pages when I reviewed the Serenade itself and less since. I'm only guessing that like me other CC'ers aren't as interested in the ports, but wanted to see and know details about the ship. This I can understand, but hopefully what I can provide some details on these ports for people to look through a later time and offer them familiarity of those ports when they visit, as I'm sure others will also review the Serenade itself on other sailings. I had a hard time finding good info and any decent reports/posts about Kotor for example:)

 

For sure on Q in December my review will almost predominantly be all ship.

 

If I haven't touched on anything about the ship or any of these ports that could help one of you CC'ers out there, please ask and hopefully I have an answer for you :D

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I'm still really enjoying the review! First I was interested for the ship as we will be on Serenade in January, but the port photos are keeping me following along. I may never get to do a Med cruise, but the great pictures and details make me feel like I'm there.

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Your welcome kebhouse. I wish I knew what terminal# she docks at, maybe someone can post and compare it to the photo I had as we entered with the 4 ships in the terminal. In two weeks? Are you doing the Dubrovnik/Santorini itinerary? AWESOME!!!! I'll have Dubrovnik pictures up in this review in the next few days.

 

 

 

Have a great cruise! :D

 

 

We are! Everyone says Dubrovnik is awesome so I can't wait to see it.

 

Your post has gotten me considering walking Venice- we have some time between when we disembark and our train to Florence. Might drop off the bags at the station and walk around to sightsee.

 

 

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....but the port photos are keeping me following along. I may never get to do a Med cruise, but the great pictures and details make me feel like I'm there.

 

Someday.... you just have to go. Any video or picture just does not do justice to actually standing there :)

 

Your post has gotten me considering walking Venice- we have some time between when we disembark and our train to Florence. Might drop off the bags at the station and walk around to sightsee.

 

I did exactly this 3 years ago off of the Voyager of the Seas. I handed in my luggage at the baggage storage location at terminal 107 (scroll back up to the picture of the port with Equinox moored at 107, the baggage storage is located in this building) If I remember correctly it opened shortly before 9am and closes at 5:30pm, but you should definitely research this on the net as things could've (and likely have) changed over time. At the time I think it was a cheap 6euro per bag.

 

I easily walked all the way through Venice, went up the Bell Tower, lined up and visited St. Mark's etc.... great day on foot! Got back at 5pm, rolled my luggage back to the people mover and out to Piazza Roma, took public transit to the Airport (bus goes right there) and I got there only about an hour later! My flight was for 9pm and the gate wasn't even open yet. Everything worked out just fine, you should try it :D

 

Thank you for the absolutely fabulous review with phenomenal pictures!!!

 

My pleasure! I'm having fun doing this :D

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I love hearing about the ports but I mainly would pick a cruise on itinerary not ship.It may be different for those long term cruisers who have been there done that.

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I had a plan for this day. With all aboard set early at 3:30pm I wanted to get up early for sunrise to take pictures. I had also booked pre-cruise on line tour with a 3rd party supplier the Doge's Palace "Secret" Tour at 10:45am (which included a walk through the Bridge of Sighs to the Dungeons) as well as a St. Mark's Cathedral "Secret" Tour at 12:15pm (which allowed for viewing of some locked areas to the public). My plan for timing of today worked out great.

 

I set my alarm for 6:30am and was up top deck before 7. Unfortunately the skies were mostly overcast so no sunrise to be seen. I took this one shot of the St. Mark's Bell Tower way off in the distance so you can get a feel of the distance from the port (the Bell Tower is small and absolutely dead center). I took this photo from my chair at the rear of the Windjammer aft deck 11 starboard side.

 

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I wanted to walk to St. Mark's again, this time with hopefully less people in the early morning and was rewarded.... the streets were very empty. Like yesterday's "commute" I made my on foot off the ship, to the people mover, and over to Piazza Roma.

 

Fyi, RCL also provides a transfer service via private shuttle directly from the pier to St. Mark's which cost $28 for one day, or $50 for both (per person). From the Serenade terminal, instead of walking about 10 minutes to the approx location of the People Mover, they also have shuttle buses for the 2-3min ride to the beginning of the pier where the shuttle boats are. So if you are not mobile, or just wish to have the ease of transport and without finding your way around, this is the fastest ans easiest (and most costly) way to get to St. Mark's Square. The downside is that you miss the gorgeous walk through Venice and you will never get the full ride through the Grand Canal and under the Ponte Rialto as you would if you get on the #1 or #2 Vaporetto.

 

The two shots below are looking back atthe bridge foot passengers take at the "entrance gate" (as I call it) from the Piazza Roma into the start of the on-foot canal areas of Venice.

 

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Note there are many wells/cisterns that are now unused but have huge history as to the water supply for Venetians. You can easily google and get some interesting info on this as well as many other pictures.

 

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I had been to Venice as a kid & young adult, both at peak holiday times, and I have pictures as the day before with massive crowds at St Mark's and through the streets. I was also here mid-day 3 years ago with the results as far as crowds go. I've never walked through Venice this early in the morning so I didn't know what to expect. It seemed like a ghost town in comparison!... and oh so beautiful and peaceful in the morning light. If you are an early riser I strongly recommend this experience as there's a great beauty with the peace and quiet in comparison when there's thousands around you.

 

After taking a different route this morning compared to yesterday, and stopping at San Palo church for only 10 min (a little underwhelming after already seeing the amazing Basilicas over the past week) I continued onto and easily reached Ponte Rialto in only about 40 minutes. As suspected, there were hardly any people as many of the stores weren't even open yet anyways. I was able to get several unobstructed photos that normally you just cannot take when there's hundreds on the bridge all waiting their turn.

 

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I spent maybe 10-15 minutes at Ponte Rialto enjoying the views and watching the boat traffic. I figured I wished to get to St. Mark's by 9am and try to get up the Bell Tower before my first 10:45am tour. Heading away from Ponte Rialto I took this shot facing back... I have this same pictures in yesterday's segment with tons of people in comparison

 

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And if you're hungry when you leave the ship early in the morning, there's plenty of cafe's and Pasticcerias with incredible looking (and probably tasting) items that I'm sure would satisfy anyone for breakfast!

 

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