A great value and a great time-saver.
Fly into Venice a day or 2 early, and enjoy this watery dreamland before embarking on your cruise.
Here's how we did it:
1. Flight-hotwire.com , Air France from Boston-Paris-Venice
2. Hotel- kayak.com, Hotel Sant'Elena- in a quiet residential area, a vaparetto ride away from Piazza San Marco
3. Cruise- costcotravel.com, the best value and great service- for a 12 day cruise on Ruby Princess
This was our first Princess cruise- they had a great itinerary with a lot of new cities/countries for us- like Istanbul, Mykonos, Rome, and Florence (Monte Carlo- 2nd time visit but well worth it)
First day on the ship- was an overnight in Venice, so the cruise ship offered a water launch for $15 R/T for the first day
We took a cruise tour in : Florence ( So we would not miss the ship departure and get stranded, so we went with the cruise ship tour), Naples(Hike Mt. Vesuvius and tour of Pompeii) , and Rome (private tour but they guaranteed back to ship in time or they'd get us to next port).Also we did a tour from Athens with the ship excursions to the Temple of Poseidon, The road to Cape Sounion passes the idyllic beaches of the Saronic Gulf - Glyfada, Vouliagmeni and Varkiza.
Mykonos: Take the local bus to Paraga Beach and sun,swim,eat lunch at Kalua (www.kalua.gr), back to Mykonos town in time to stroll around Little Venice as the sun starts to go down...see the Windmills of Mykonos town.
Florence: Tour the Four Seasons Firenze- lunch, spa, amazing gardens (http://www.fourseasons.com/florence/)
Make your own essence; Aqua Flor, Firenze (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1dBPDQGdEdU)
Venice: Alilaguna- Airport to Venice- 15 Euros