Just before 6 p.m. local time on Thursday, July 21, 2012, Carnival Breeze’s Cruise Director John Heald informed all guests over the ship’s public address system that a nationwide strike by public transport workers was planned throughout Italy on Friday. The strike is to protest austerity moves, he said.
Heald said the ship, now sailing north from Dubrovnik, Croatia, is slated to call in Venice as scheduled around 10 a.m. local time Friday.
However, “it means that most of the public sector workers will go on strike,” Heald told passengers, noting that trains, planes and public buses as well as traditional water buses or vaporetti will likely not be operating.
The good news, he told guests, is that all Carnival shore excursions will operate as scheduled and that the strike should not affect those plans.
Guests who planned to travel independently into Venice via train or water bus (vaporetto) are now being given a new option. Carnival has arranged to hire five boats that hold 200 guests each and the line will operate a water shuttle directly from the ship dock to St. Mark’s Square and back. The nonstop shuttle service will run throughout the day.
The line will not be able to assist those who may have wanted to travel by water to the islands of Burano or Murano, he said.
Carnival officials had worked hard all day to secure the alternative transportation arrangements. Carnival will cover much of the charter cost for the boat hire, and only will charge guests for the price they normally would have paid for public water transportation – a $17 roundtrip fare.
Any water transport tickets previously sold to guests at a bit higher price as a Carnival shore excursion will still be accepted for the new arrangements. In addition, Carnival will refund the difference in price to guests.
Heald told guests that essentially the only way available - beyond Carnival's new water transport arrangements - to reach St. Mark’s Square from the ship is a one-hour walk over 14 bridges. While it’s a nice walk, he said, and some guests may choose to do that option, Carnival also recognized that some guests are unable to do the walk. Thus, Heald said the line scrambled all day to secure the alternate arrangements.
UPDATE: As of early morning Friday, the Carnival Breeze shore excursion team had sold more than 3,000 of the alternative transport tickets.