One of the many nicknames for Venice is The Floating City, and a new luxury cruise ship has sourced the inspiration for the interiors of its ‘floating boutique hotel’ from the City of Water. The completely refurbished S.S. La Venezia has been decked out in traditional Venetian-inspired designs, and its classic appeal makes it look like a modern take on the Orient Express, but on water.

With plans to set sail through the Venetian Lagoon and northern Italy in March 2021, S.S. La Venezia is part of the Uniworld collection, and all of the company’s ships seek to emulate the destinations that passengers will see on their itinerary. The ship’s interiors were created by Fortuny, a design house that has been operating on the Venetian island of Giudecca since 1921. The company is renowned for its handmade fabrics, the exact creation specifications of which are still a closely guarded secret.

The refurbished S.S. La Venezia is designed to resemble the Orient Express on water
The refurbished S.S. La Venezia © Uniworld

"Over a century after its founding, Fortuny continues to prize originality, made only possible by artisans deeply committed to their craft," Uniworld’s CEO and President Ellen Bettridge said in a statement. "For our guests, this means a setting and style of service that is wholly immersive in the enduring fascination and magic that is Venice, and is born from more than 100 years of experience."

Murano glass work, bold fabric prints and decadent wallpaper complement the sleek art deco elements found throughout the vessel. Floors are made from marble or brass-inlaid parquet, and staterooms come with huge floor-to-ceiling picture windows.

Lobby of the SS Venezia
The lobby of the SS Venezia has been designed to resemble Venice in the 1930s © Uniworld

"Whether guests stay in a classic stateroom, one of the four junior suites or two grand suites, they will experience the unmistakable essence of the city, beginning in the lobby which strikes a bold resemblance to 1930s Venice," Toni Tollman, one of Uniworld’s artistic directors, said. "They will see echoes of the portico of the landmark bridges in the patterns of the fabrics or a reference to the local fish dishes, the basis of classic Venetian cuisine, and enjoy the unmistakable swirls and pops of color of Murano blown glass, another signature craft of Venice."

La Venezia panini bar
Panini bar, SS La Venezia © Uniworld

Cruises have become a controversial topic in Venice in recent years: large cruise ships – classified as those weighing more than 1000 tons – were banned from the city’s historic center in September 2019 after a ship crashed into a dock and injured five people that June. The protests have continued this year, with residents decrying cruise ships and large motorised boats making waves in the city’s waterways. Venice has also been battling over-tourism, and the government said it was planning to introduce a €10 tax on daytrippers. 

S.S. La Venezia has 63 cabins for a maximum of 126 passengers. Rates for the Venice & the Gems of Northern Italy itinerary start at US$2899 per person, and the experience can be booked on Uniworld’s website.

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