It's Impossible to Navigate in Venice
I was worried that we wouldn't be able to find places we wanted to go. And it is really easy, and even encouraged to get lost! Walkways that appear to go where you want are blocked by canals without bridges, making it impossible to get someplace even if you can see it! The narrow roads wind around corners and the buildings create narrow alleys that make it difficult to see landmarks. We used our cell phone with GPS with some success and google has taken the "joy" (frustration?) out of getting lost because it will guide you using the fastest combination of vaparetto (water taxis) and walking, and will usually send you to the nearest bridge, even if it feels like a lot of turns. Unfortunately, the GPS can sometimes lose service between large buildings, making it hard to follow. I think any trip to Venice should include time to get lost, wander around areas that aren't on the tourist paths. The only thing that frustrated us was when we were already tired and just wanted to get back to the hotel and what looked like a quick walk back turned into an epic journey to the nearest bridge!
Tips for using the Vaporetto
Buy tickets ahead online for your length of stay or at a local tobacco shop with the ACTV logo. Be prepared to pay cash for your tickets.
Vaporetto single rides are expensive, 7.50 euro for one hour of riding (unlimited transfers) Full or multi day tickets are a better value.
The "stations" are floats, so you scan your ticket and enter the float and wait for people to exit. Be ready to board quickly, the water taxis are crowded and usually you have squeeze on somewhere.
There is a map or electronic board at each vaporetto station, check to make sure its headed in the direction you want and that it goes as far as you want, some ferries do not complete the round trip of the whole line.
Think of Line 1 along the Grand Canal as the Hop On Hop Off bus; which stops at every stop
Line 2 along the Grand Canal is the "express bus" with only major stops included.
Think twice about using the vaporetto for a "cruise of the Grand Canal". It's so crowded that it's unlikely you'll find a spot to see the sights. much less photograph the sights from the water taxi. There are a few spotsoutside or along the rail and you'll be made to move every time new people board. Unless you are on very tight budget, splurge for the private taxi tour of the Grand Canal.
The main vaporetto from the airport includes areas for people with luggage, but of the other water taxis are ill equipped to use with luggage, so it's worth arranging a private or group transfer on a taxi rather than trying to squeeze onto a vaporetto with all your luggage.