When visiting Venice one can pre-book a number of services online with Venice Connected. When it works it must be fantastic. When there are problems no help is available. And a number of people have reported problems.
People have complained that the Venice Connected system is hard to understand. That is the least of your troubles. Here’s why…
The dates mean different things
Different tickets work differently. The date you request for a three-day vaporetto (water bus) pass is the earliest date that you can collect it. The three-day period only starts on the first day that you use the pass. So if you collect it on a Friday and first use it on a Saturday, it will be good for travel up to and including Monday.
If, however, you purchase a public toilet pass then the date you specify is the only date on which it can be used. If your voucher says the 21st then it must be collected and used on the 21st. If you wish to buy tickets for two days then you will have to specify each date separately. And you will have to collect the ticket each day. And that means going to one of the four points at which they can be collected.
This is so much bother that it is not worthwhile unless you anticipate severe gastric disturbance during your stay. An alternative is to buy a seven day toilet pass, which will give you a bunch of tickets. Oddly enough the seven day pass (10 tickets) are not linked to a specific day, so if you have a need to use the toilet facilities ten times in a day you could go wild and use lots of restrooms. If you can find them.
Problem: Four collection points, none within the city
There are four collection points at which Venice Connected vouchers can be exchanged for tickets and passes. These are ONLY at the points of entry to Venice: the railway station, the bus terminal, Tronchetto terminal and at the Marco Polo Airport.
At Marco Polo airport the Venice Connected office (which is the Hello Venezia desk) is poorly signposted and even the ACTV desk did not know about it. When we found it, it was unmanned despite there being two hours before its official closing time. Nobody else could help us, and the vending machine was out of order, so we could not even pick up our vaporetto tickets.
The map on the Venice Connected web site is pretty useless in helping to find the HelloVenezia/Venice Connected desk. As you can see below, it indicates that the desk is in the middle of the road. (This is at maximum size.)
Vaporetto vouchers can be redeemed at ticket machines, but only those that display the Venice Connected logo. If you are not staying at one of the main islands then you may be out of luck – on Murano we did not find a suitable machine, which meant that we had to pay 7 Euros each to get to the main City centre, then hunt around for a suitable machine.
Problem: No telephone support
The only telephone number we could locate was for the Hello Venezia service, and it was entirely a voice-prompt system. Venice Connected do not have a phone number available, which is a huge disadvantage to any visitors who do not have Internet access during their stay.
When we complained on our return home, their response was to send us a flood of (not very relevant) links to their web site.
Problem: Tourist office uninformed about Venice Connected
The centrally located tourist office just off St. Mark’s (at the opposite end from the cathedral) were unable to direct us to any Venice Connected kiosk anywhere in the city. They did not know where they are. And they also did not know where we could obtain our vaporetto tickets. However, when we asked for the closest vaporetto station, we found a machine there that did indeed give us our tickets. But only the vaporetto tickets.
Problem: Queue in order to avoid the queue?
You can also collect your museum pass at participating museums. That sounds handy, until you realise that it means standing in the long queue for tickets at the museum in order to exchange the voucher for tickets. The reason that this is a problem is because one of the main motivations for buying the pass is to avoid the long ticket queues in the first place! So, if they do not feel like manning the kiosk at the airport, or sneak off somewhere for a smoke or a cup of coffee during duty hours then you end up the worse off
In summary, Venice Connected is seemingly unknown to the tourist authorities, you can’t phone them, and you need to print out their entire web site, including pages not accessible from the main menu, in order to use their service. If they are open at the times they indicate, and if the machine at your point of entry is working. Good luck with that.
Their problem, your inconvenience
Even though Venice Connected were responsible for our not being able to collect our tickets on arrival, they declined to refund the extra journey expense that we incurred. We never managed to obtain our toilet tickets, since it takes so long to get back to the airport that we decided not to waste a morning doing so, having already spent half a day getting our vaporetto tickets.
The Alilaguna office seemed resigned to the ticket issuing not working at Marco Polo airport – when we submitted our voucher, they just signed it manually.
Venice Connected is a brilliant idea but too complicated, offers unacceptably horrible levels of service and once they have your money they cease caring about you. Our advice:
1. Do not use Venice Connected
2. Buy a three-day vaporetto pass at Marco Polo airport
3. Buy the Alilaguna ticket at the waterside office at the airport
4. Find an out-of-the-way museum to buy a museum pass
5. Pay to use a public toilet if you can find one when you need it