Tours of the Palazzo Ducale, St. Mark's Cathedral, the Square, and glass exhibitions
The Palazzo Ducale was the residence since antiquity for the Doges (Governor of the Serenissima Republic). This palace happens to be a quite stunning example of Gothic architecture, and within it you'll climb the Golden Staircase and see paintings by Tintoretto and Veronese. You'll also cross the Bridge of Sighs from the palace to the prison. At the Square of St. Marks, you'll see the magnificent clock tower, and then have a tour of this cathedral. Following that, you'll see glass artisans at work in the Murano Glass Showroom, learn about the process, and have opportunity to purchase Venetian glass.
Price: Adults expect to pay from $92 to $99 for 4 hour tours.
Booking Advice: Because of the walking on uneven surfaces, the amount of walking, and stair climbing, this tour is considered to be physically strenous. In addition to the sites we have already listed, you will find online third party vendors with walking tours for groups that are less expensive than those offered by cruise lines at http://www.tours-italy.com/walking_tours-venice.htm
Tours of the Palazzo Ducale and Gondola Rides
This excursion also tours the Palazzo Ducale, and takes you to the Murano Glass Show, but you're also getting that opportunity to experience a gondola ride!
Price: Adults expect to pay from $130 to $149 through the cruise lines for a 4 to 5 hour tour.
Booking Advice: These tours are rated as physically difficult because of the walking and climbing involved. While cruise line prices have some OK prices, for Venice tours that combine both walking and Gondola rides, it is well worth your while to check the websites we have already listed. For groupsand as an additional resource, check out online third party vendors, including http://www.tours-italy.com/venice-gondola_rides-gondola_rides.htm
Murano Glass, & Burano Lace
This is more than an island tour... On these 5 hour excursions, you'll visit the Island of Murano and learn about the process of making Venetian glass. On Burano, you'll see the time honored (painstaking) process involved in how that beautiful lace is made from scratch as it were.
Price: Adults expect to pay from$54 to $59 through the cruise lines.
Booking Advice: These tours are rated as moderate in terms of physical exertion because of the walking. Again, especially for large groups, we are seeing similar tours at reduced rates offered by 3rd party vendors such as the two websites we have listed. In addition, you may want to check out http://www.tours-italy.com/shore_excursions-venice.htm
Ca' Rezzonico, the Palazzo Ducale, and St. Mark's Cathedral
On this excursion, you will tour the Palazzo Ducale, a magnificent Gothic palace as we've described, tour St. Michael's Basilica (Byzantine influenced archtecture), and ride down the Grand Canal, where you will see residences of the affluent dated from the 13th to the 17th centuries. The tour culminates in a tour of Ca' Rezzonico, a palazzo built in1756 and now a museum commemorating 18th century Venice. You'll see the fresco adorned ballroom ceiling and priceless antiques among many highlights before returning to your ship!
Price: Adults expect to pay around $129 for a 4.5 hour tour.
Booking Advice: Considering all of the wonderful places you will be visiting, this cruise line shore excursion is competitively priced. As described, it is rated as difficult due to the amount of walking, traversing uneven surfaces, and climbing. (These are, after all, buildings from centuries past.) You may still want to explore online third party alternatives for other, less expensive tours for sake of cost and quality comparison.
The Gondola Tours
A thirty minute bare bones non-narrated, non champagne, non dinner gondola ride that also does not come with a serenade is going to cost about $70, but in all fairness this is likely taking into account your transfers back to your ship after some free time. Gondola prices tend to go up when the music, the wine, and dinner is added, and prices are higher than basic fare when your excursion combines a gondola ride with a a walking tour.
Price: Depending upon the time of day and the little extras, gondola ride prices vary from $70 to $200 through the cruise lines.
Booking Advice: For gondola rides, you'll be SO much more ahead by booking with a third party vendor online, and that includes virtually ANY gondola tour, including those that combine with dinner, wine, serenades, or walking tours. Most tours of Venice are rated as strenuous due to the amount and nature of the walking involved. Gondola rides can be most romantic, but unfortunately none advertised Fabio Lanzoni as the gondolier!