I booked a surprise dinner cruise for my wife's 50th birthday on Joe Monday's Crystal Swan Gondola! You need to request the Crystal Swan by name - it was fabulous. We met Joe at the location, he was dressed in a nifty Gondolieri outfit and was full on imagine, stories and knowledge of Newport Harbor. We took the two hour sunset dinner ride and we were impressed. I wondered how the food would be on a Gondola? The food was excellent - it was all covered up and there when we arrived. We had salad, salmon, rice and cheesecake for dessert. I upgraded the champagne and it was also wonderful. My wife was in tears, she said it was the best birthday surpirse she ever had. Much of that is due to the effort Joe Monday puts into the ambience and setting the scene. Joe is really into his gondola and the whole gondoliering scene. He built the gondola himself, his wife made a beautiful stained glass background and he etched the windows. The Crystal swan is magnificent. It has a windscreen to protect in the event there is wind and Joe brings blankets for the lap and shoulders if needed. Pillows to lean against. All in all well thought out. Then there is the message in the bottle. My wife wa quite surprised at running into a bottle in the water and thought we had been lucky - Joe spins a tale about bottels falling off of wedding boats in the harbor - and - ramined that way until she realized I wrote the note!
What a wonderful experience, we had a great time and will do it again in the future. I hired United Limousine Service to bring us there and pick us up when it was over.
I highly recommned that if you want to try a Gondola that you call and ask for the Crystal Swan. It is the best!!
Pros: Joe Monday is part of the ambience, at 70 years old he has been doing this for 26 years and still seems to love every minute.