Rick's blog from Venice in May mentioned that they were phasing out vaporettos with front seats, which he recommends you use with his Grand Canal Audio Guide. You can still get a vaporetto with front seats but you have to take a #2 which is the express. To get a front seat, get it at Piazzale Roma when it pulls in, as most people will get off for the bus station. Rick, quicken up that Grand Canal audio for the new reality. The boat captains apparently got tired of pounding on the windshield to get the tourists to sit down, so "no front seats" was probably part of the spec for the latest boat order.