Five Lessons We Learnt When Booking A Venice Water Taxi

One of the reasons I set this blog up was to share our honest tales of family travel and hopefully help others not make the same mistakes we’ve made.  So, for anyone thinking of booking a water taxi in Venice please read on….

Our recent cruise departed from Venice, which is an amazing city to leave from, most small and mid-size cruise ships still have permission to go down the Grand Canal and the views are amazing.


The amazing sights as you cruise down the Grand Canal, Venice

We’ve been to Venice before, again to pick up a cruise, and we spent some time there after it too so we know a little bit about the place.  On our last trip we had got a private water taxi to the airport for our flight home and it was really good fun – the water taxis put their foot down on certain stretches of water and it was a bumpy journey with a squealing Master ATWWAH.  And even on the slow bits you get to really take in the sights without jostling with other tourists etc.  I mean if it’s good enough for George and Amal Clooney……..

NCL, who our cruise was with, told me they don’t book private transfers for their passengers, and instead the lady there sent me details of a water taxi company she had got on the internet.   Undeterred, how hard can it be after all, Mr ATWWAH booked our water taxi transfers from the airport to the port and back.  He paid in advance, informed the company of what time our flight was due to land and received a confirmation email saying to head to the water taxi area on arrival.  When I asked if it was the one NCL recommended he said no as they couldn’t do the return date but they had given him details of another water taxi provider.

Our flight landed a few minutes later than scheduled but nothing major and then I annoyed Mr ATWWAH as I had to go to the loo after we got our cases and was ‘wasting time’.  We then shuffled as quickly as we could with the trolley full of luggage, Mini ATWWAH in the pram and Master ATWWAH jogging alongside us to the water taxi area.  There was a pretty big queue but we were confident, we had booked ahead after all.  However, the guy who was running the little jetty where everyone stood kept shaking his head at us and saying it wasn’t his company and to try someone else.  A guy took pity on us and called the company we had booked with and they said they would be there in 10 minutes.  We’d already been waiting about 30 minutes in the heat and I was wondering what sort of cowboys Mr ATWWAH had booked.

Mr ATWWAH then looked at his phone, the first time he had done so since arriving at the airport, and there was a text from the water taxi company telling him which pier he was moored at.  It was further down than where we had been stood.  We ran along full of apologies to the guy who didn’t seem that bothered.  And we were off…..lesson number 1, look at your phone when you land

The water taxi ride was as thrilling as we remembered with Master and Mr ATWWAH at the back of the taxi outdoors shrieking and laughing.  Poor Mini ATWWAH was just clinging on to me for dear life wondering what the heck was going on.

We then come to lesson number 2, check where you are being dropped off.  The driver helped get our cases off the taxi and assisted us out, Mr ATWWAH gave him a decent tip especially as we were the ones that had kept him waiting and then we looked around and realised we had been dropped off in the middle of nowhere.  A man from what looked like a car park attendant kiosk approached us and asked what we were doing, we explained and he laughed and pointed to the port terminal which was over a busy main road and through a car park.

We had four suitcases, a pram with an under 1 in it, a four year old, two adults and a large hand luggage bag.  We did not however have a luggage trolley.  You know the brain teasers where you have to decide do you take the chicken, the bag of corn or the fox over in the boat first, it was just like that.  We ended up leaving one of the cases with the guy in the kiosk.  I pushed the pram and had custody of one of the cases and was responsible for ushering Master ATWWAH around and Mr ATWWAH had the two heavier cases and the hand luggage bag.

We negotiated the roundabout ok and got so far and then stopped so Mr ATWWAH could run back for the other case.  And we basically had to make our way to the ship like this as the route we had to take did not go past any luggage trolleys.  I think they were at the place the legit water taxis moored at.

I cannot lie, it wasn’t the greatest start to the holiday.  We literally had to keep leaving one case behind for anyone to steal, rummage through, report to the authorities while we got so far and then Mr ATWWAH ran back.  We also tried a technique where Master ATWWAH pushed the pram and I had two cases so we didn’t need to leave one but that didn’t work too well as Master ATWWAH was struggling to see over the pram and wasn’t great at not running other people over.  We did though learn lesson number 3, people who go on cruise holidays aren’t that helpful.  If I had a pound (or a luggage trolley) for the number of people who walked past us with hardly any luggage, who were able-bodied and just said ‘aah, that’s no good is it?’ or made some other unsympathetic but no help to anyone comment I’d have been rich.

Mr ATWWAH and I lost our tempers with each other, for no other reason that we were hot and tired, as it wasn’t actually either of our fault.  We got to the luggage drop off point dripping in sweat, bright red with Master ATWWAH falling to the floor declaring he was shattered.  He had only carried the bottle of water we bought from a kiosk which we had used as a refuge for the case we were leaving behind on that leg.

As you can imagine when the ship returned to Venice at the end of the cruise I wasn’t entirely convinced we would have a successful water taxi transfer.  However, the company texted Mr ATWWAH the night before and said which pier number they would be at.  He texted back to check it was the main pick up point, they said yes.  So, we got off the ship with our luggage trolley loaded high and headed to the pier.  But, no, they weren’t there, they sent a text and said they were at the place they had dropped us off at previously.

We headed that way, at least this time we had a luggage trolley, but then we got to a certain point where you left the official port authority and you had to leave your trolley.  Mr ATWWAH decided he would take one of our cases over to the meeting point to drop at the water taxi and then come back for us all rather than us do the remainder of the journey in the haphazard way we had done previously.  Unintentionally he also took the hand luggage bag which had all our passports and my phone and purse.  Mini ATWWAH had dropped off to sleep in the pram and Master ATWWAH was in good spirits so we stood surrounded by cases at the entrance waiting for Mr ATWWAH to return.

After 15 minutes I started to wonder where he could be and the odd, far-fetched, watch too many thrillers thought came in my head ‘what if the water taxi people have robbed him and left him for dead?’  Also the meeting point was where lots of goods vehicles were loaded and unloaded and I considered he may have been run over.  As you do.  After 30 minutes I was convinced something was amiss and it wasn’t helped by Master ATWWAH getting upset and asking where his daddy was.  A guy from the port authority came to ask what we were doing and I tried to explain in simple English and keeping my northern accent toned down but he didn’t really understand and kept pointing back to the official water taxi place whenever I said ‘water taxi’.

After about 40 minutes I had decided Mr ATWWAH was definitely not coming back and I had started to panic but learnt lesson number 4, never let your husband walk off with your phone, money and passport in a foreign land. And then he appeared.  He seemed genuinely touched I was worried but that worry turned to anger as I noticed he had returned with the case.  The water taxi wasn’t there.  I demanded his phone and said texting was useless so I called the water taxi place, despite Mr ATWWAH saying he had already done so.  They answered and apologised and said they would be there in 10 minutes but they had been stopped by the police.  I assume for either speeding or maybe because they were trying to stop at a place you weren’t meant to.  There were even signs, we noticed on our return visit, saying no pedestrians or unauthorised personnel.

We decided to stick together this time and head over with our peculiar ‘leave a case a few metres behind’ strategy.  Anyway, the water taxi was there and the journey back was fine but funnily enough we didn’t leave a tip.

So, to wrap up this post lesson number 5 is always try this water taxi firm first when you book in Venice as they seem to be the official one with access to the legitimate piers etc.

Do you have any lessons learnt from your travels?  I’d love to hear them.  And apologies for the lack of photos with this post but frankly at no point during this debacle did it cross my mind to take any photos.

If you liked this post you might like to read about the cruise we did with our port stops in Croatia and Athens/Kusadasi

Or maybe you would like to know why I don’t think Venice is a great place to take a toddler

  1. omg what a farce! I really feel for you and shame on the other passengers for not helping you! Hopefully you will laugh at this in years to come though and people will take advice from this post and not make the same mistakes :-/ xx

  2. Oh no, what a palaver – and what horrible people not to help you with your bags. I think there’s something about Venice – on my first visit with my then boyfriend, we took the wrong vaporetto to get to the station and ended up coming in a weird way to the platforms, getting stopped by police who didn’t really believe us. By the time we got there, we had missed our train, were hot, cross and not talking to each other…

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