LA BELLA VITA: Barge cruising from Venice

LA BELLA VITA in Castello, Venice

ABOVE: La Bella Vita is moored on the waterfront of St. Mark's Basin.

Venezia - Mantova signsIn May, 2013, we cruised from Venice to Mantua aboard La Bella Vita, a hotel barge of European Waterways that entered service last year. The six-night voyage took us to Chioggia (at the southern end of the Venetian Lagoon) and up the Po Delta, finishing its journey at Mantua.

We've just published a 32-page cruise review and day-by-day cruise photo diary at Europeforcruisers.com. Here are a few of the 150 pictures that you'll find in our coverage:

LA BELLA VITA at Marittima, Venice

ABOVE: La Bella Vita at Venice's Marittima cruise terminals. (In this photo, the captain and engineer are coming to welcome us on board and take our luggage.)

COSTA MAGICA and Piazza San Marco

ABOVE: The view from Cabin 2, "Canaletto," on the morning after an overnight stay near the Piazza San Marco.

Chioggia, Italy

ABOVE: A fisheye view of Chioggia, the most important fishing port on the Venetian Lagoon.

Drawbridge on Canal Bianco

ABOVE: A drawbridge opens for La Bella Vita on the Canal Bianco in the Po River Valley.

Lost doll in Ferrara, Italy

ABOVE: An abandoned baby in Ferrara, Italy.

Goats at Conca di San Leone

ABOVE: Goats watch La Bella Vita traverse a lock between Ferrara and Mantua.


ABOVE: La Bella Vita arrives in Zelo, Italy.

Paola Salvato, tour guide

ABOVE: Paola Salvato, our tour leader, stands on a riverside pier near Mantua, Italy.

A new hotel on Murano: LaGare Hotel Venezia

LaGare Hotel Venezia - Murano

ABOVE: The LaGare Hotel Venezia (right) is directly across from the Murano Museo boat platform, which offers direct waterbus connections to Marco Polo Airport, the Lido di Venezia, and Venice's historic center.

Murano  is famous for its glass factories and shops, but the car-free island (which lies just off Venice in the Venetian Lagoon) has other attractions, too--including historic churches, a superb Glass Museum, and plenty of restaurants with canalside tables. Until recently, Murano had only a handful of tiny hotels, but now there's a brand-new hostelry in town: the four-star LaGare Hotel Venezia, which belongs to the Accor hotel group's design-oriented M Gallery collection.

The 118-room boutique hotel is directly adjacent to the Murano Museo waterbus stop, which is served by Alilaguna Linea Rossa boats from Venice Marco Polo Aiport between the end of April and the beginning of November. You can also walk to the hotel from Alilaguna's year-round Linea Blu stop at Colonna.

For more information about the hotel, see Booking.com's LaGare Hotel Venezia pages, Venere's LaGare Hotel listing, or the hotel's own site. (You'll probably get the best rate from our discount hotel partners, Booking.com and Venere, but--as always--we recommend comparing rates to be on the safe side.)

To learn more about the island of Murano, read our illustrated 11-page Murano travel guide.

Roundtrip Cruises from Venice: Updated for 2013


ABOVE: Royal Caribbean's Splendour of the Seas departs Venice with two Alilaguna airport and tour boats in the foreground. Note the "bricole" or wooden navigation markers next to the ship channel.

The American novelist Henry James wrote that the best way to approach Venice is by sea, and we concur. We'd add that the best way to leave Venice is also by sea--and if you can travel by sea in both directions, so much the better.

To make it easier for you to find ship itineraries in 2013 that start and end in Venice, we've just updated our "Roundtrip Cruises from Venice" article at Veniceforvisitors.com. Our freshly-revised article describes 10 oceangoing cruise lines, three river-cruise companies, a hotel barge, and a Greek car-passenger ferry with voyages that begin and end in Venice, Italy.

A new player in the Venice roundtrip cruise market for 2013 is Uniworld Boutique River Cruises, which will offer seven-night cruises from Venice to the Po River with shore excursions to Bologna, Padua, Ravenna, and Verona.

For more information, including in-depth cruise reviews, see "Roundtrip Cruises from Venice" and the Venice for Cruisers section of Veniceforvisitors.com.

BELOW: Compagnie du Ponant's L'Austral at the San Basilio cruise pier in central Venice.

L'AUSTRAL at San Basilio pier in Venice