With canals and bridges and no vehicle traffic, Venice is a very unique destination.
Where You're Docked
Sailing into Venice is truly one of the most scenic sail-ins of any port. You will pass St Mark's square heading towards Stazione Marittima at the western end of the island. Describing Venice as a fish, the port would be at the fish's mouth. Your cruise ship may offer a water shuttle service into St Marks Square. Smaller cruise ships dock at San Basilio Cruise Terminal on the southwest edge just before the main port.
Update Nov 2013 - The port has announced that starting Nov 2014, large cruise ships will take a new, less scenic route into Venice. http://www.mirror.co.uk/lifestyle/travel/venice-cruise-st-marks-square-2705417 The impact of ships not being able to use the Giudecca Canal is still unclear. There are reports that some cruises have docked at Marghera port on the mainland by the bridge to Venice.
Update Feb 2014 - The date for the new restrictions has been pushed back to Jan 1 2015.
Cruise schedule here http://www.vtp.it/
Cruise terminal map
Money & Tipping
To get from Stazione Marittima to the railway station and Piazzale Roma, you can walk or take a taxi. If walking, save some time by taking the People Mover, an elevated tram that goes directly to Piazzale Roma from a station outside the cruise terminal for only €1.30 (June 2014). It saves quite a bit of walking. There are elevators at the station. http://www.asmvenezia.it/
For a cheap "cruise" along the Grand Canal, you can take the ACTV vaporetto (water bus) service. It is €7 (June 2014) for a single trip, €18 for a 12 hour pass and €20 for a 24hr pass. Nearest stop to the cruise terminal is at Piazzale Roma. Lines 1 and 2 (plus N - night service) run along the Grand Canal with stops at Piazzale Roma, Rialto Bridge and St Mark's Square. http://www.actv.it/
You can also experience riding a gondola by taking the Traghetto service across the Grand Canal used by locals for only €2.
To/From the Airport
Venice's Macro Polo airport (VCE) is located just north of Venice approx 13km away. ATVO runs express buses from the airport to Piazzale Roma. Tickets are €10 one way, €18 return (June 2014) and can be purchased at the ticket office at the airport. In Pizzale Roma, the ticket office is a couple doors down beside the People Mover entrance. Otherwise, you can take a taxi (€40-50, can go directly to cruise terminal instead) or Aerobus route 5 using the public ACTV service (€6 June 2014). The ACTV service has additional stops and you can buy tickets online and combo tickets with vaparetto service or Tourist Travel Cards. Remember to validate your bus tickets onboard when used.
With no roads for vehicles and lots of bridges, you will need to determine how you will get to your hotel. You will spot many tired tourists rolling their luggage up and down the many bridges. Private water taxi service is very expensive. Search hotels in Venice here
Must See Sights
If you follow WC signs, you will be led to expensive public toilets €1.50. Use free washrooms when available or have a coffee at the counter inside a cafe or a gelato in any restaurant and use the washrooms there.
Shopping & Restaurants
The best by the slice pizza places are around Campo Santa Margherita. Head northwest from Accademia.
The current #1 restaurant on Tripadvisor is Alfredo's Fresh Pasta To Go. This is a small takeout restaurant close to the northeast corner of St Marks. It is marked on google maps https://goo.gl/maps/eMqo9
Supermarkets are hard to find. There is a Co-Op supermarket in Piazzale Roma. Head towards the pedestrian bridge for the train station but don't cross and instead turn left following the water and you should be able to find it. There is also a chain called Billa with several locations around Venice.
There is a post office beside the Co-Op in Pizzale Roma. There is another on the western side of St Marks Square.
Maps aren't too helpful since the streets are a bit of a maze. The trick is to follow the directional signs that will point to Per S.Marco (St Mark's), Per Rialto (Rialto Bridge), Piazzale Roma or All Accademia (Accademia Bridge).
The second map shows the vaporetto stops (with route number). The lines across the Grand Canal show the Traghetto routes.
ACTV Map (right-click to save)
Venice Weather Forecast
Suggested Port Guides