Gondola Adventures in Newport Beach – A Private Cruise that’s Fun, Festive, and Ultra-Romantic

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We were headed to Newport Beach for the weekend and wanted to do something unique and romantic. We couldn’t have picked a better experience. 

Gondola Adventures offers numerous different cruises. We went on the Amore Cruise which is a one-hour gondola ride through the harbor. It was absolutely delightful.  

The waterway has great sites on both sides of the harbor – Photo by Gondola Adventures

We were lucky enough to cruise in one of their brand-new gondolas which just arrived from Venice, Italy, on Memorial Day, 2022. Our gondola was Bella and the other brand new one is Luna.  

Our gondola awaits! Photo by Michael Melamed

Our gondolier, Greg, was exceptional. He gave us a fabulous commentary on all the sites on both sides of the harbor as well as singing every time we went under a bridge. He told us about the tradition – couples must kiss under the bridge, which we were happy to do. Muaaah!

Gotta stay with tradition – and pucker up under the bridge! Photo by Gondola Adventures

Plus, Greg would sing in an incredibly good voice: under the first bridge, O Solo Mio; under the next, a song in Latin; and on our return under the last bridge, his own glorious rendition of Nessum Dorma! 

Greg sang with dulcet tones! Photo by Michael Melamed

Along with this, he told a sweet story of how years ago his Aunt Judy, who was a flight attendant on a private plane, met Pavarotti, who invited her to his concert in New York City along with backstage passes for her and her father who loved Pavarotti and used to sing his songs in the shower. (Not nearly as well, of course!) 

Take a romantic gondola ride at any time of day or night! Photo by Gondola Adventures

When we first boarded the gondola, Greg told us we would get lots of “looks” from all the others in the waterway, and he was right.  He explained that every time we passed people in other boats – be they yachts, speedboats, Duffy boats, kayaks, paddleboards, or a young couple sitting on a surfboard – the occupants would wave, and we had to call out a greeting, “Bueno sera!”  It was a super friendly crowd with lots of friendly waves, big smiles, and our own giddy shouts of “Buona sera!”

Call out your greeting “Buona Sera” to everyone you pass along the way. Photo by Gondola Adventures

Greg had many delightful stories, anecdotes, and rumors about the folks of Newport Beach and the eight islands… and he pointed out all the stunning waterfront homes with fun, juicy descriptions. 

The views from your gondola are amazing! Photo by Michael Melamed

He showed us the former home of the late actor, John Wayne, and the previous waterside mansion of actor, Nicolas Cage – with a fascinating story of why he moved and sold it! (You’ll have to ask Greg! Or maybe Nick, himself, if you see him at a screening!) Another interesting tale was that in 1938, James Cagney won Collins Island in a poker game! The U.S. Coast Guard used Collins Island during World War II, and Cagney sold it in 1948. Who knew? These and Greg’s many other anecdotes made the cruise even more special… and quite entertaining.

OMG, what message will she find in the bottle – could it be a proposal? Photo by Gondola Adventures

There have been many proposals in their gondolas. With some proposals, the couple will discover a message in a bottle – floating in the harbor, midway through their cruise. When it is retrieved from the water, it might even have an engagement ring in it! (But, sorry guys, Gondola Adventures does NOT provide the ring.)

What could be more romantic than a gondola ride with wine & rose petals? Photo by Gondola Adventures

While we were out on the harbor, we passed another couple in the company’s Wedding Gondola. This one, the Lucia, has a carved deck and beautiful, elaborate decorations.

You pass other boats, yachts or even another gondola! Photo by Gondola Adventures

On our Amore Cruise, they provided an ice bucket with a choice of sparkling cider, San Pellegrino sparkling water or plain bottled water, and chocolates. There are also cruises where you can have an antipasto platter, pizza, picnic-lunch, dessert, or even a full 4-course dinner when you cruise! The food is provided by a local restaurant.   

Enjoy a 4-course dinner with your gondola ride! Photo by Gondola Adventures

Greg has to be their best gondolier – he has been doing it 30 years! He’s done it in various cities, states, and countries. Even in Venice, Italy, the gondoliers were impressed with him! Btw, we later learned that “Gondola Greg,” is actually the owner of Gondola Adventures. He’s also the President of the Gondola Society of America, and the foremost authority on gondolas and Venice in the English-speaking world. No wonder we had such an extraordinary cruise!

Gondolier Greg told enthralling stories along the way. Photo by Michael Melamed

There’s no question, though, that Greg is a man who absolutely loves his work. 

Gondola Adventures operates three types of gondolas: authentic Venetian gondolas (imported from Venice); neo-Venetian electric gondolas with canopy covers; and American-built rowing gondolas. 

A romantic gondola ride in Newport Beach Harbor. Photo by Gondola Adventures

We feel fortunate that we were in one of the authentic, brand-new Venetian gondolas that was made in Italy during the pandemic and then shipped to Gondola Adventures earlier this summer. In addition to their operation in Newport Beach, Gondola Adventures has cruises in Irving, Texas. 

Grab a bunch of friends and all go together! Photo by Gondola Adventures

Gondola Adventures is a marvelous way to spend time in Newport Beach, see wonderful sites, and learn fascinating facts about the area. Oh, yeah, and it’s a heap of fun… and fabulously romantic, too.

So now, there’s only one thing left to say: Buona sera!

Gondola Adventures, Inc

200 N Bayside Dr,

Newport Beach, CA 92660

949-646-2067

All photos courtesy of Gondola Adventures unless otherwise noted.

About Marilyn Anderson 25 Articles
Marilyn Anderson is an award-winning author, film and television writer. She wrote for Murphy Brown, FAME, Friday the 13th - the Series, and Carol & Company, starring Carol Burnett. Marilyn wrote and produced the family feature film, How to Beat a Bully. She is the author of How to Live Like a MILLIONAIRE When You're a Million Short.

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