ABOVE: If your travel agent has a distorted view of Venice's geography, you could find yourself stuck a long way from airport transportation or the cruise port.
by Durant Imboden
We'll almost certainly get a flood of angry e-mails for saying this, but it needs to be said:
Travel agents often give bad advice to their clients who are headed for Venice.
- A reader told us that her travel agent had arranged a water taxi from the airport to the city center at a cost of 150 euros per person. For a couple, that's almost triple the normal fare--and it's about 10 times the cost of an Alilaguna airport boat ride.
- Cruise passengers have told of being booked into hotels far from the Venice cruise terminals, with no easy way of getting from the hotel to the ship with their heavy luggage. (Venice is a city with more than 400 footbridges, and most of those bridges have steps.)
Why do such mistakes occur? I'd guess there are several reasons:
- Travel agents may be experts at getting the best fare from Virginia Beach to Venice, or at recommending the cabin with the largest balcony on the MS Croesus, but that doesn't mean they're familiar with the geography of a distant city where buses and taxis don't travel door to door.
- Even when a travel agent has visited Venice, his or her experience may be colored by the fact that someone else provided local transportation and baggage handling during a "fam trip" that was sponsored by a hotel or cruise line.
- Online travel agencies like Expedia and Travelocity typically recommend hotels based on price, availability, and other factors, using computer algorithms that don't take the traveler's individual needs into account. (Airlines and cruise lines are no better: When I checked in with Delta for a recent flight to Venice, the airline suggested two outrageously-priced hotels without regard for my budget or preferred location.)
Bottom line: Don't let a travel agent--or anyone else--make local transportation and hotel decisions for you unless you know exactly what you're getting and why. And for more guidance on planning a trip to Venice--or on reviewing your travel agent's recommendations--go to Venice for Visitors, which has more than 600 pages of illustrated travel advice.