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Venice - Vaporetto Tickets

Warning - if you get on the Vaporetto by the Realto Mercato - be warned... there are no ticket machines. If you get on the boat expecting the uniformed employee to come sell you a ticket... it could cost you a 67 euro find per person, if an inspector happens to get on board. The Vaporetto Inspectors will hear no excuses from Americans and even threaten to take our passports, if you do not supply your credit card. Very rude and angry about any attempt to explain. The locals (mostly very nice) came up later and apologized. However, a very costly mistake. Didn’t trust the app. Better-off going to the Rialto Bridge location, where there are ticket machines at the docks or seek out and stay with the uniform ferry worker - don’t let out of your site until he gives you a ticket for each person. Hotel was great and very friendly! Ferry Agents giving Venetians a very bad name!

Posted by
4440 posts

You get fined on most public transport systems if you are stupid enough to board without a ticket and an inspector is doing his/her job and catches you. Ignorance of the system is no defence. I have been to Venice and knew in advance what must be done to secure a ticket.

You were defrauding the system by not having a ticket. The inspectors are probably fed up of hearing excuses from ignorant foreigners.

Posted by
1676 posts

Some of the vaporetto stops have no gate and you board via the honor system. I got on early one morning and watched the show as a group of seniors were loudly arguing with the transit cop (not really sure what they're called there), from what I was able to listen in on they'd been riding all week without paying. They were making such asses of themselves and belittling the transit cop that even the locals were starting to turn on them. My favourite line they shouted out in their defense "how were we to know, we're American."

Posted by
24872 posts

welcome to the Forums. I see you posted this in the Rick Steves Tours Forum. So you must be on a Rick Steves Tour. Did you hear the introduction by the Guide on the first day explaining about not boarding without a ticket unless you go directly to wheelhouse and request a ticket, or much better, to get a pass for the duration?

Posted by
4 posts

Yes, first time posting and last time posting. Clearly, it was our honest mistake. And no, the guide did not warn us ahead of time. I was only hoping to advise any others from making the same mistake. The inspector was beyond rude. Cheers..

Posted by
2773 posts

Doug. Read the OPs reply. He was on a RS tour. Why would they download the audio guide when they have a real live guide with them.

Posted by
48 posts

To all the holier than thou people on this forum who like to police other posters. If you can't say anything nice, don't say anything at all.

Posted by
4 posts

Thanks Doug and CJean.

Yes, day one and first time in Venice and on the Vapperetto. The Realto Mercato has no ticket both or anyone taking tickets at the gate... honestly walked on and was waiting for the uniformed employee to ask us to buy tickets. Honest mistake. Offered to get off at next stop and pay full day pass. The inspector would have none of it. 225 Eruo fine seemed extreme for an honest mistake: So be it! Lesson learned! Hard way. Otherwise Venice is fantastic! Cheers!

Posted by
20972 posts

IF he was on a Rick Steves tour, I doubt seriously if he was not advised by the tour guide. Probably just not paying attention. In Denver our entire light rail system runs on the honor system and there are no signs advising you about having a ticket but when the fare checkers come strolling through the car, you better produce a tickets -- otherwise it is $50.

Posted by
15752 posts

@Doug, there are no "gates" at the vaporetto docks, unless it is new feature installed in the last year. You scan your ticket on the machine and it beeps to indicate the ticket is valid as you walk onto the dock. If there is no ticket machine at the dock, or it is out of order, you must immediately tell the conductor (the person operating the docking lines on the boat and opening the gate) that you need a ticket, then stand to the side as the conductor completes the job and the boat leaves the dock, then they will sell you a ticket. Failing to do this will mark you as a fare dodger.

Posted by
3042 posts

I’m sympathetic to the OP. It’s unexpected (although not unusual) to have no way to pay at a stop and also no way to pay on board, especially for a boat ride.

Clearly many Venetians don’t care what tourist’s think, and wish they would just stop coming.

A Vaporetto ride in August, ugh, $10 a ride and heaving with tourists, and steamy.

Posted by
486 posts

I’m sympathetic to the OP. It’s unexpected (although not unusual) to have no way to pay at a stop and also no way to pay on board, especially for a boat ride.

See what Sam said above. There is a way.

Posted by
3042 posts

Buying and Validating Tickets and Passes: You can buy vaporetto tickets or passes at ticket booths at main stops (such as Ferrovia, Rialto, Accademia, and San Marco-Vallaresso); from a conductor on board (do it immediately, before you sit down, or you risk a fine)....

If Smithsonian.com is correct, tickets can be purchased on board, but the technique matters. I only took one ride (it was kinda miserable) and I was asked to show the tickets.

Warning: We've had reports of ticket inspectors ignoring the ACTV's published policy and fining tourists who tried to buy tickets upon boarding, so we strongly recommend going out of your way to buy a ticket on land to avoid ripoffs.

Above from Europeforvisitors.com

Posted by
5538 posts

Sadly, this happens in many places (including the U.S.) when an out-of-towner does not fully understand the local transit system regulations. No need to call the transit officers names; also no need to imply that the OP was trying to cheat the system.

Posted by
11929 posts

I do not see anyone suggesting they were trying to cheat. I believe it was an honest mistake. However, the Venice vaporetto system does not allow for honest mistakes. Both the cheater and the innocent tourist sill say the same thing: “ I thought I could buy on board.”

So there is a “zero tolerance” policy on this ( as there is with many transit systems.).

Actually there is a way to buy tickets on board where there is no machine on the dock. You must inform the mariner as you board that you need to buy a ticket. Look him or her in the eye and say “I need to buy a ticket” BEFORE you step aboard. Or say in Italian, “senza biglietti” ( without a ticket). The mariner will ask you to stand nearby until everyone has boarded, and will then sell you a ticket. We have done this a number of times without fuss or fine.

If you wait until you have boarded it is too late, and you must pay the fine.

And no need for the N word. Please.

Posted by
9195 posts

As stated, there is a way to buy a ticket on board the Vaporetto. (see responses above). Relying on the tour guide to teach everything is not always a good idea. For future reference, every city''s transportation system has rules. You might want to take it upon yourself to learn them ahead of time or it can be a costly mistake. The same goes through for national transit systems.

I have boarded the Vaporetto without a ticket at stops without machines. While boarding I told the attendant, in English, I needed to buy a ticket. They have either said "wait there" or wait by the entrance to the wheelhouse and as soon as we got underway came by to sell me a ticket. This is officially allowed and is stated on the ACTV website.

Why download the RS app if on a tour? Well, the guides are not always allowed to "guide." On my Italy RS tour, our guide informed us she was not a licensed guide so couldn't give a walking tour in a couple of places. She suggested we use the walking tour offered either in the RS guidebook or app.

Posted by
4514 posts

The OP knew that it is possible to buy tickets via an app but "didn't trust" it. This shows a greater knowledge in one respect of how they operate than rank novice maybe. The other alternative would be to fall back on the more traditional source of tickets - a tobacconist.

Posted by
15752 posts

For the vaporetto routes we took, and remember we took Rick’s Audio tour of the Grand Canal so we stopped at every stop on the Grand Canal we did not see anyone selling tickets on the vaporettos.

No they do not advertise "tickets for sale on board" but when there is no functioning ticket machine at the stop, you can buy one on-board by identifying your self to the crew as you step onto the boat.

Posted by
359 posts

We were in Venice last month and took lots of vaporetto rides. Saw plenty of people purchasing tickets on the boats, Italian-speaking and not. Easy process and exactly as Sam described.

Posted by
4 posts

Final Word on Venice

Absolutely LOVED IT!

The RS tour guide, the local guides, hotel and event staffs, restaurants, etc were all incredible! 99.99% of the people we encountered were great! That 00.01% (ferry inspector), you know who you are.. enough said!

My only purpose of posting the initial comment was for someone doing the same tour to avoid (yes!) our stupid mistake as so many of you have pointed out.

The RS hotel is actually located at Realto Mercato (fish market) some distance from the Realto Bridge. So, the stop there has no ticket machines or anything close to what is at the other stops (why - no idea). So, we had a senior moment and got on the boat with a crowd and expected the agent to come around asking for tickets (yes, stupid), but we were so caught up in our first day and first free moment and never expected it would be a problem while we enjoyed the wonderful sites. When the inspector (we thought another agent) approached, we expected to purchase the tickets... she would have none of it.... and went on this anti-American banter... we were civil and respectful but tried to explain our error and newbie situation... again, she would have none of it... I offered to pay for a full day pass (20 eruo Each ). Again, she would have none of it... the 67 euro fine per person seemed extreme _ hence my initial harsh comments (since corrected as so many of you have pointed out).

Yes, we embraced the culture... tried talking the language, eat the food... drank the wonderful vino and embraced the art, history, etc... all terrific! Many great memories never to be forgotten!

I would strongly recommend this RS tour to anyone! Now on to Florence! And yes, I am reading up on the transport rules!

Happy Travels to all (even you Nigel)!

Posted by
24872 posts

I don't hate anyone, sorry if it came across that way.

Thank you for removing the word.

Posted by
9195 posts

It's not just Venice. A Rick Steves tour guide told me she was with a group in Monterosso in the Cinque Terre and were going one stop to Levanto. They had train tickets but hadn't gotten all the tickets validated. A train pulled in, the conductor saw their problem and motioned them to board. The guide told him not all the tickets were validated and the conducter said to board anyway. As soon as the doors closed and the train pulled away he started writing fines to those whose tickets weren't validated.

Bienvenuti in Itallia!!!!!