Uniworld set the tone on the first full day. In the morning there was an exclusive early opening visit and private small group guide to the Doge's Palace. To be able to admire this palace before the crowds arrived was truly appreciated, especially as we left and saw the ever-growing queue for entry!
This was followed in the evening by a further once in a lifetime experience from Uniworld, an exclusive after hours visit to St. Mark's Basillica…WOW!!! We entered almost in darkness and were seated in the main Basilica, slowly and in silence the lights softly came on, revealing the exquisite interior of this historic building. This was an experience I shall honestly never forget, it was enhanced by our local guide, who was the most amazing storyteller and had the entire group in awe of where we were seated.
An evening stroll along the canal back to our ship La Venezia and time to relax in the lounge, enjoying one of many premium all-included drinks on board and chatting to new friends about our day.
La Venezia offers five categories of accommodation sleeping up to 124 guests, she was completely renovated in 2020 and become one of Uniworld's 'Super Ship' fleet. The classic stateroom with a duck window, the deluxe with a full picture window, the French balcony and then, suites with two glorious Grand Suites. The six suites on board benefit from an in-suite butler service, packing and unpacking assistance, in-room breakfast, fully stocked minibar and free laundry service.
All meals are served in the elegant Rialto restaurant, with breakfast and lunch buffet style and your evening meal served a la carte, with a choice of fine wine served by your onboard sommelier. There is a lovely pizzeria on the top deck, perfect for sunset dining in the lagoon and a small private dining experience in La Cantinetta, seating up to 12 guests. This experience can be booked on board and comes with a surcharge, as it includes a tasting menu with wine pairing.
Our next day was busy and included a visit to the beautiful Noble Country Villa and wine estate, you simply cannot visit Northern Italy and not sample some of the local produce! The little port of Chioggia, is at the southern end of the Venice lagoon; stroll around the village and enjoy the local market trying some local antipasti dishes.
In the past this 7-day itinerary included a brief sailing up the mouth of the Po river, however due to remaining low water levels, this is now not possible and actually for 2023 the Po has now been removed all together from this trip. Nothing is missed from the itinerary, as we visited Bologna for a few hours by coach; having the opportunity to learn about the city with our local guide, which included watching a pasta making demonstration and delicious pasta lunch afterwards!
Entertainment on board is low key, but having made new friends during the week, it did not matter. It was nice to simply relax after dinner with a bellini or limoncello and enjoy the surroundings of the ship. On one evening, we were entertained by a live band and then, a four-piece opera montage. Also on board, there is a small modern gym and a spa treatment room, offering a variety of daily massages; these can be booked once on board with a charge.
One of the gems of the itinerary is the Island of Burano, a small island you can walk around in 20 minutes, but packed with beautiful coloured houses. Try a traditional meal here or enjoy one of the small bars, as this really immerses you into the local life and culture. Burano is famous for handmade delicate lace and we visited a little shop, which still makes all its lace by hand.
From here we took a short private boat to Murano, famous for its glassware. We watched a private glass blowing demonstration and then, took some time to wander around their showroom; some pieces were simply priceless and you found yourself walking around with caution.
Back to Venice for the last full day and a Uniworld tour, which included a private water taxi to the Rialto Bridge district, very James Bond! Here we visited the local market with the chef of the ship and watched him purchase the delights we would taste later, at our farewell gala dinner. This was to include stunning fresh fish and local vegetables, to be enjoyed over a 5-course evening meal.
All of the staff on board S.S La Venezia were fantastic, so attentive to every detail and they certainly contributed to a great experience on board. Speaking with other guests and learning that many had sailed numerous times with Uniworld, it was clear to see why!
This in-depth itinerary of Venice is unique and something special for all cruisers to consider; no matter if you are a couple, solo traveller or group of friends, this will be a fun and memorable experience.