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Cruise ships in Venice: which ships are not banned from Venice?

Cruise Advice

Venice recently banned cruise ships over 25,000 GRT (gross tonnage), forcing them to use ports nearby. But which cruise ships can still call into Venice? Luckily, many of our favourite small ship cruise lines are under the maximum GRT and can still sail right into the heart of the Venetian Lagoon. Read below for a round up of all the ships that are not banned from Venice and are still able to navigate this famous waterway to dock in the centre of the city.

1. SeaDream Yacht Club

The small, yacht-like stature of SeaDream's ships mean they dock at Venice's San Basilio pier after navigating St. Mark's Square down the grand canal, a luxury granted to only very few cruise lines. SeaDream I and II visit Venice at the start or end of their cruises at least twice per month from June to August, this year and next - we particularly like the Istanbul to Venice itinerary in June 2024 which encompasses an in-depth exploration of Greece and Croatia alongside these two city icons. We love the al fresco feel of SeaDream's ships - you can even spend the night sleeping outdoors on the Balinese dream beds - perfect for those warm Adriatic summer nights.

2. Windstar

Windstar's small ships allow you to approach Venice via its main waterway, a small-ship exclusive benefit, anchoring in the heart of Venice's Old Town while larger ships can only pass by. Windstar sails to, from, or via Venice four times per month throughout May-November in 2023 and 2024, with classic Dalmatian coast itineraries such as a late-September sojourn 2023 on the 342-guest Wind Surf and its spectacular sails. You'll pause among the ancient cobblestone streets and fjord of Kotor, marvel at Old Town Dubrovnik and discover timeless Rome and Venice, with several incredible included excursions.

3. Emerald

Emerald's luxury super yachts, Emerald Sakara and Azzurra, are small enough to dock into central Venice at the San Basilio Cruise Terminal, connected to downtown Venice and just a mere 10-minute walk from the city's most well-known sights. Emerald offer an array of itineraries from May to November both this year and next that start or end in the iconic city and call in at regions in Italy, Greece, France, Croatia and Turkey. To escape the full summer crowds, we like the 1st June 2024 sailing from Rome to Venice that sails to Italian jewels like Sorrento and Sicily, before stops in Croatia's Dubrovnik and Vis.

4. Sea Cloud Cruises

Sea Cloud's small ships - the largest of which has just a 136-guest capacity and a GRT of 5,431 - approach and leave Venice on a route reserved for small ships, docking just moments from the Doge's Palace. Experience Sea Cloud, Sea Cloud II or Sea Cloud Spirit - which are famous for the fascinating spectacle of hoisting all their sails by hand - on a range of itineraries of varying lengths, including this September 2024 Venice to Valletta sailing that visits Croatia's lesser-known Rovinj as well as beautiful Korcula, before calling in at the spectacular hilltop town of Taormina on Sicily's east coast and the ancient ruins on Italy's Ortigia island.

5. Uniworld

Uniworld is renowned for its destination-focussed ships and itineraries, and the small size of their river ships means they are able to sail into and dock right in the heart of the Venetian Lagoon. On board, the S.S. La Venezia supership is reminiscent of 1920s Italy - think handcrafted beds, Murano glass and gilded accents - with wood-fired pizza suppers to set the scene. Plus, guests can enjoy exclusive experiences in Venice such as a private, after-hours visit to Saint Mark's Basilica which is specially opened for Uniworld guests, as well as visiting Venice's surrounding islands for Murano glass blowing demonstrations and private wine tastings. The ship remains only in Venice and its surrounds year-round - with a few sailings also calling in to Milan - meaning guests can experience a real, in-depth appreciation of Venice and Veneto. Want to skip the crowds and heat that high summer brings? Opt for a May or September river cruise such as this 10 September 2023 voyage.


6. Ponant

Ponant's largest ships hold a maximum of 264 passengers, meaning they are small enough to wind through the famous waterways of Venice. Venice itineraries take place on either the 184-ship Ponant Explorers or one of the four 264-guest ships; these stylish ships are the eptiome of elegance - the perfect pairing to a Venice cruise. Regular departures between May and August visit the likes of Montenegro and the Greek Islands, but the Artistic Adriatic and Pinault Collection cruise has really caught our eye. Departing on 17 June 2024, this 7-night cruise will be held in partnership with the Pinault Collection - Palazzo Grassi, and guests will listen to fascinating lectures given by Pinault Collection experts, discover contemporary art in Venice and enjoy private visits of the Palazzo Grassi and the Punta della Dogana accompanied by Pinault Collection experts.


7. Scenic Ocean Cruises

Scenic's two luxury ships, Scenic Eclipse I and Scenic Eclipse II, are two of the most technologically advanced and most exciting ships ever built, and thanks to their 18,000 GRT, easily sail into Venice's central port, the San Basilio Cruise Terminal. This central docking location is connected to downtown Venice, allowing for easy disembarkation to explore the city. Scenic Eclipse I and II visit Venice in May 2023, paired with visits to such gems as Croatia's Hvar and Italy's stylish Capri, perfect for some late-spring sunshine.

Meet the author

Claire is Marketing Manager at Mundy Cruising, having worked with the company for nearly a year and in travel for over 8 years. Most recently she's cruised on Seabourn and has also sailed with Ponant and Uniworld. Her favourite destination is Sweden however she's also enjoyed cruises in the the Galapagos, Mediterranean, Caribbean, Northern Europe, Greek Isles and the Far East. When she’s not travelling she loves weekends away in the countryside.

More about Claire

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