NEW ORLEANS (WGNO) — Robert Dula has been bringing Italian romance to New Orleans for nearly two decades.
For $100, couples get a 50-minute tour of Big Lake at City Park, complete with wildlife sightings and a duck’s eye view of NOMA’s Besthoff Sculpture Garden.
Right now, 6 and 7 pm are the best times to book for cooler temps and the chance for a sunset-painted sky, but whenever you board “Bella Mae” you’re sure to feel special.
“I always thought maybe I’d have to go all the way to Italy for that (to ride in a gondola) so it’s nice that I can do it right here!” smiled Tamara Ogle, whose fiance booked a surprise trip when they traveled to Nola from New Jersey.
You can’t help but feel romantic floating across the calm waters, with a private gondolier and an Italian soundtrack.
Robert Dula gave WGNO Reporter Stephanie Oswald and Photographer Christopher Leach a ride for this week’s Destination Louisiane segment.
Robert’s beautiful boat is an authentic gondola, built in Venice. She had her maiden voyage in the canal-filled city and was then shipped to New Orleans. Robert named her “Bella Mae” after his mom, a schoolteacher in Lafayette, Louisiana.
Something he’s especially proud of: he recently witnessed the 800th engagement aboard the gondola! There’s never been a “no” when someone has popped the question.
Tip for nervous grooms: call Robert and he’ll help you with some special presentation ideas.
“The view from my office never gets old,” he laughs, paddling under the bridge that leads to the views of the sculpture garden.
He recommends booking at least a week in advance, longer if you’re keen for a specific Saturday night. Click here to book, and for more information.
Robert says he doesn’t sing, but is happy to provide a romantic soundtrack on portable speakers (you can also bring your own playlist), and if you’d like to have some snacks while you’re aboard, bring them along.