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Gig Harbor Gondola

A whole new way to see the sound

John Synco on his gondola. Photo credit: Ivan Postivka

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The Puget Sound is filled with opportunities to go on sailboats, cruises, ferries, kayaks and all kinds of other watercraft, but there is only one Venetian gondola plying the waters of the Sound - and it's docked on the shores of Gig Harbor.

Headed up by John "Cinque" Synco, Gig Harbor Gondola recently opened for business and introduces an entirely new way to see the Puget Sound - from the inherently romantic seats of a gondola shipped over from Venice, Italy.

In fact, Venetian gondolas are quite rare within the bounds of the U.S.

"From what I've been told, there are only twenty-five or twenty-six authentic Venetian gondolas in the USA," said Synco. "I bought mine from a friend in southern California who had the gondola shipped out from Venice, Italy, in 2008."

Synco originally tried his hand at being a gondolier in 2002, when a friend invited him to apply to a job opening in southern California. Since then, he's traveled to Venice to sharpen his skills at the source and to participate in the Vogalonga (a noncompetitive race held in Venice to protest the use of power boats in the city) in 2005.

Starting his own business as a gondolier has long been his goal.

"I love being on the water operating a unique vessel with no motor, and I love meeting and spending time with people from all over the world," he said. "Life slows down in a gondola. The gadgets are put away and the conversations ignite. If you could eavesdrop while a gondola is passing by, you would hear words like travel, goals, memories, inspiration. You would also hear a lot of laughter and sighs of relaxation."

Cruises cost $85 for two people for an hour or $115 for two for an hour and a half. Up to six people can fit onto a gondola, and each additional person costs $30. Gift certificates are available, too.

Cruises meander out to the mouth of the harbor for a look at Mt. Rainier, if it's out, and then along the shoreline to check out the multi-million dollar homes, yachts, fishing vessels and old net sheds.

Even though we're knee-deep in fall and heading into winter soon enough, this intrepid gondolier is willing to row rain or shine. If the weather is really nasty, he'll likely contact you to talk about options, but if you're willing to suit up in rain gear or bring an umbrella, he's likely willing to take you out. He does have blankets on board, but feel free to bring your own, wear rain jackets, bring umbrellas or other gear.

Gig Harbor Gondola, located at Gig Harbor Marina, 3117 Harborview Drive. For more information or to set up your very own gondola cruise on the Puget Sound, visit or call 253.432.0052.

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