Love is in the air…

There’s a song like that! Joe and I are feeling a lot of love considering today is our wedding anniversary. Our wedding celebration took place on the beach in Marco Island. Very romantic!! We have such wonderful memories and pictures.

A couple of months ago, the Steve Harvey Show taped a segment aboard the Gypsy Spirit and we’re so excited to be able to talk about it now. The premise is a husband and wife rekindling their love life and she has always wanted to go on a boat. It was so amazing to be a part of such a beautiful love story.

Love

It was a pleasure working with the Steve Harvey Crew! All of us at Free Spirit Yacht Cruises had so much fun being a part of such a romantic and beautiful event. Our very own Captain John will be making a celebrity appearance on the show.

Captain John

Thank you Steve Harvey for empowering people’s lives and being such a positive influence in our world. We believe this will definitely build a stronger bond for this couple and their family.

Love Story

Don’t miss the Steve Harvey Show this Tuesday, November 25th!!! Check your local listing for air times.

We’re going on a yacht cruise today. You’re kidding, right?!

What to wear on a yacht cruise?The beautiful beast called Chicago weather has everybody’s attention once again. It’s October 4th and we’re waking up to forecasts of snow flurries, blustery winds and raw temps. What the !*#!? It’s early fall.

You think you’re upset? What about the people who’ve booked their wedding or company outing for a yacht cruise today (yes, we have them on the schedule!).

We can’t do anything about the weather. But we can control the venue. If you’re booked with Free Spirit Yacht Cruises, you’ll be happy to know we have heat. So you and your guests can be cozy and warm inside.

Of course, you’ll want to prep for the weather anyway cause you have to get to and from the yacht. Here’s an example of how you may want to dress if you want to go on deck to enjoy the full experience of being on a boat on Lake Michigan.

Ah, the joys of living in Chicago. Challenging to say the least. Happy weekend, All!

Thank you, Daniel Burnham!

“Make no little plans”. Sound familiar? It’s attributed to Daniel Burnham, the architect and master urban planner responsible for Chicago’s spectacular lakefront parks, as well as the creation and/or expansion of major city streets — most famously, Michigan Avenue, Wacker Drive and Congress Parkway. (Source: Wikipedia)

The Plan of Chicago, otherwise know as the Burnham Plan, was created by Burnham and his associates in 1909 to serve as a roadmap for developing the city they loved. The goal: to beautify the lakefront by creating and maintaining green spaces along Lake Michigan, to preserve Chicago area forest preserves, to make travel in, out and within the city, more accessible, and to improve the quality of life for Chicago residents.

Burnham HarborIf you equate vast green spaces in the midst of a major metropolitan city with quality of life, you’ll probably agree that the Plan of Chicago succeeded. We certainly do.

As a business that calls Burnham Harbor home, Free Spirit Yacht Cruises is indebted to Daniel Burnham for his vision and all it created. A beautiful harbor, within walking distance to downtown Chicago. Situated on the Museum Campus, home to the Field Museum, the Shedd Aquarium, the Adler Planetarium and Soldier Field (go Bears!).

A quick cab ride to McCormick Place where we frequently pick up charter guests or dock for private events. We couldn’t find a better place to spend our summers. Or a more convenient location for clients hosting private yacht charters for their business events or parties.

As Chicago residents, Joe and I delight in our beautiful city. Not a day goes by that we don’t think about how lucky we are to live here. Since we moved downtown from the suburbs two years ago, we spend as much time as we can walking the city and taking in all it has to offer. Museums, restaurants and nightlife. We can’t get enough.

“The Lakefront by right belongs to the people,” wrote Burnham. (Source: Wikipedia). Miles of lush green gracing the lakefront. Rocks to climb on along the shoreline. Beaches to play on. Parks to wander. Playgrounds where families gather with their children.

Thank you, Daniel Burnham. We are grateful for all you’ve created in Chicago.

To learn more about Daniel Burnham and the Plan of Chicago, check out the Encyclopedia of Chicago. We recommend it to guests on our charter cruises who want to know more about our city.

Our Wild Chicago Weather

Getting tired of all the talk about Chicago’s crazy weather? Us too! And this summer has been especially wild. From a string of warm sunny days to unusually high rainfalls and flooding streets (and basements), 2014 will go down as one of the wettest years in Chicago history.

What about people who’ve booked private yacht charters?

When the skies are dark and cloudy and the weather anchors are saying run for cover, what happens to people who are looking forward to entertaining clients or guests on Lake Michigan?

Well, in the case of recent charters….including groups from Google and Capgemini….they go out and have a really great time! Cause the weather anchors aren’t always right. And they certainly can’t predict exactly where a storm will hit. Case in point. Take a look at these photos and you’ll see what we mean.

Chicago Weather
These were taken on Friday, September 5th. As you can see, the vantage point was out on Lake Michigan. Pretty dramatic shots, right? Even better viewed from the deck of the Free Spirit or the Gypsy Spirit. While we all prefer the glorious sunset shot, being able to see the bright horizon under those dark skies was pretty amazing. Obviously, guests on board were not in a downpour when these pictures were taken. But they sure got to see some!

Weather in Chicago

That’s why we got feedback like this from our charter clients, all of whom cruised in less than ideal weather conditions:

“We had a great time; the staff was great and the cruise was really fun. We’ll definitely be doing it again!”

Michelle Rotter
Google

“Our group had a wonderful time to say the least, and I would guarantee that we will be back again in the future. Your hospitality and service was outstanding.”

Steve Schultz
Arthur J. Gallagher & Co.

Chicago Cruise

And one of our favorites cause their cruise went on even though the Air & Water Show was cancelled…..

“We are interested in chartering again next year on the Sunday of the air and water show (August 16, 2015.)  It couldn’t possibly be cancelled two years in a row, right?”

Bonnie Bienert
Judson University

We spent a lot of time this season sending out pre-charter emails to reassure clients who were concerned about the weather. Fortunately, they all know that we are committed to providing safe and fun events.

We monitor weather radar conditions very carefully. And our captains and crews are highly experienced. They’ve all been out on Lake Michigan when the weather suddenly turned from sunny and beautiful to black and stormy or heavy with fog.

It happens (in Chicago!) and we’re always prepared. But we never cancel charters. You’ve already invited guests. The food’s been ordered. Our yachts are large enough to have your group inside (where it’s cozy and heated). If the weather is very threatening, we will stay in the harbor. Otherwise, we cruise!

Chicago – Home to World-Class Architecture

Ask someone who’s never been to Chicago what they’d expect to see on a visit here. You’ll find that expectations may be far different than reality. Tourists, especially from abroad, seem to know Chicago as the place where Al Capone ruled in the ‘30s or where Michael Jordan led the Chicago Bulls to stardom (the latter is far preferable to the former!).

But ask someone who’s visited here what most impressed them and you’ll generally hear “Chicago’s beautiful architecture”. Especially the world-famous Chicago skyline.

Chicago Skyline

We can’t help but agree. And we consider ourselves blessed because from April through October each year, we pretty much live at Burnham Harbor. We get to view the Chicago skyline on a daily basis. In the morning, when the rising sun bathes Lake Michigan with sparkly, glittery beauty. In the afternoon, as the skyline becomes a regal backdrop against the sandy beaches lining Lake Shore Drive. And our favorite — in the evening, when sunset settles over the shoreline and skyscrapers are aglow with twinkling lights as a wash of gold and pink fades behind. Our city is truly spectacular!

When first-time visitors are out on one of our private yacht cruises, they often ask us about our favorite buildings in Chicago. Not an easy question!

We’ve asked some of our friends to share their favorites. Here’s what we heard….and why:

  • the John Hancock Center (lovingly called “Big John” by Chicagoans), our X-braced black steel giant, now home to TILT, which does just that from the 94th floor
  • the Prudential Building, sleek, solid and linear with its limestone facade
  • the Wrigley Building, the grande dame of the Mag Mile, clad in glistening terra cotta tiles
  • 333 West Wacker, the green-glass beauty that curves around a bend in the Chicago River, a favorite with Free Spirit Charter guests who take our Gypsy Spirit river cruise
  • Aqua, Jeanne Gang’s futuristic Lakeshore East beauty with balconies of rippling layers
  • Marina City with its bizarre corncob twin towers
  • Willis Tower (formerly Sears Tower), Skidmore, Owings & Merrill’s architectural gem and the tallest building in Chicago
  • the trifecta, the 57-acre Museum Campus, home to the Field Museum, Shedd Aquarium and Adler Planetarium
  • Trump Tower, the glittering silver-glass skyscraper on the Chicago River and another Skidmore, Owings & Merrill design (preferably minus “the Donald’s sign)

So what would you say? If you had to name your favorite Chicago building, what would it be? We’d love to know.

We’re always looking for local feedback — from the people who know and love our city — to share with first-time visitors to Chicago who cruise with us. Include your name and why you chose the building you did, and we’ll use it on a list we’re compiling to share with our guests.

Can you say Chicago Pride?

Our summers are focused around Burnham Harbor and being out on Lake Michigan. It’s the price we have to pay for owning a private yacht charter company ;)

We’re crazy busy during season, but every once in a while, something happens to make us look up from what we’re doing.  Yesterday’s celebration of Jackie Robinson West 2014 U.S. Little League Championship was one of those every-once-in-a-while moments. Seeing hundreds of cheering Chicagoans lining the parade route and thousands more gathered in Millennium Park made us wish we had a day off. We had to settle for live feeds and watching the reruns on television.

Jackie Robinson West Players

Photo from Chicago Mayor’s Office

As lifelong Chicagoans, we love this town. But it makes us sad to see the negative press Chicago has been getting for the gun violence, particularly on the South Side. We all agree it needs to be stopped. This is not the Chicago we want to show the world….and not just because our business is heavily dependent on tourists visiting Chicago.

But seeing the proud, happy faces of these thirteen youngsters and their families and coaches gives us hope that things can be different…..and better. If these young ballplayers can do what they did — working so hard to win not just a championship, but the love and admiration of an entire city — then the future is wide open for more reasons to celebrate Chicago.

Our town loves its sports teams, good or bad (the Cubs, for instance). We rally behind the winners and the losers. But rarely have we seen a losing team handle themselves with more grace and humility than the Jackie Robinson West players exhibited. It makes us proud to say we live in Chicago.

Thank you, Jackie Robinson West players. You’re an inspiration to us all and you’ve helped make this a wonderful Chicago summer.

Happy Labor Day, Everyone.  Celebrate with Chicago pride.

Entertaining Clients in Chicago.

There’s a reason why tourists love visiting Chicago in the summer. Actually, there are many reasons. A wealth of museums, world class architecture, outstanding restaurants, great theater, Chicago blues and jazz clubs, interesting and diverse neighborhoods, glorious parks and bike paths, Millennium Park with its free concerts, the Bean, Divvy rental bikes and Lake Michigan, to name a few (if we missed anything you love, feel free to let us know).

Since Chicago is such a mecca for entertainment and things to do, it stands to reason that it’s also a wonderful town for business entertaining. Everything from sophisticated nightlife to picnicking in one of the city’s beautiful parks. With so much to choose from, it can be challenging to decide what to select when you have clients you want to entertain.

Entertaining Clients

Choose Chicago is one of our favorite resources for business entertaining in Chicago. The site offers every possible option for pulling together a successful business meeting or event – from venues to hotels, transportation around town as well as to and from the airports, caterers, entertainers and more. We recommend their handy and helpful Chicago Planning Guides to visitors new to Chicago. Our meeting industry colleagues often tout the Official Meeting Professionals Guide as a great tool for planning an outstanding event.

Of course, we’d be remiss if we didn’t mention OUR favorite venues for entertaining clients in Chicago – our Gypsy Spirit and Free Spirit luxury yachts. There’s something very special about a private yacht charter. If you want to truly impress your clients or have a very important business meeting to conduct, hosting it on a luxury yacht might be the difference between landing that big new contract or missing the boat (sorry, couldn’t pass that one up).

Whatever you decide…..whether you take your clients to an upscale 5-star restaurant off the Mag Mile, an authentic Italian Trattoria on Taylor Street or a picnic in Lincoln Park, you’re bound to enjoy entertaining in Chicago.

It’s almost time! The 2014 Chicago Air & Water Show.

The 2014 Chicago Air & Water Show is this weekend, Saturday, August 16th and Sunday, August 17th from 10am – 3pm. Chicagoans start flocking to the lakefront early in the morning to get a great spot to watch one of the most exciting events of the summer.

Love aerial acrobatics, daredevil performances and parachute jumpers? Then you know where we’re going. And where you should be going if you’re looking for family fun in Chicago!

With headliners like the U.S. Navy Blue Angels, the U.S. Army Parachute Team Golden Knights, the Firebirds and more, it’s the show our city looks forward to all year and one of the highlights of summer in Chicago.

Our favorite viewing spot is on the decks of the Free Spirit and Gypsy Spirit (you knew we’d say that)! Captain Joe has figured out exactly where to position the boats for optimum aerial show watching. But if you’re not on a yacht (we’re all booked this year), the next best spot is at North Avenue Beach or anywhere between Oak and Fullerton along Lake Michigan.

Want a little pre-show highlight? Here’s a peek at the Air & Water Show from previous years.

Wherever you choose to watch, we hope you have a wonderful time!

Thank you for a great cruise!

This is our goal with every charter cruise we run! Our business is helping you host memorable events and we’re happy to be receiving feedback like this:

“We had another fantastic time, will be back, and will continue to spread the word!”

“Everyone had a great time. You will be our “go to” charter service going forward and I will recommend to others as well.”

“We had a fabulous time! Thank you!”

There’s still lots more summer to celebrate in this town!

Yes, we’ve heard people complain that it’s not hot enough. But we think this has been a spectacular Chicago summer so far. Blue skies, sunshine, strings of perfect 70-something temperatures. We’ll take it. We’ll take it!

Best of all is that there’s still another 7-1/2 weeks of boating season on Lake Michigan. We put the Gypsy Spirit in dry dock at the end of September, but the Free Spirit will be cruising till October 29th this year.

So If one of those “meant to do’s” that you never got around to was to book a private yacht cruise, you’ll be happy to know there’s still a little time before season officially ends. You just might be able to squeeze in a fun family gathering, a get together with friends, or host a company party before the boats go to bed for the winter.

To book a charter or check dates, give us a call at 708.361.2220 or request a quote.

Top ten reasons to book a private yacht cruise

 

How to Host a Best Ever Company Party

Coming up with clever new ideas for your company party can be challenging. You want something memorable. Not the same old summer picnic (not that we don’t LOVE picnics!), but something your staff will talk about for years to come.

We have clients that book their company party with us year-after-year. Could be because summer seems so fleeting in Chicago, and we all want to spend as much time as possible doing things we can’t do year round. Like cruising on Lake Michigan. Or maybe because there’s something very special about getting your group together on a private yacht for a lazy summer afternoon.

Company PartyWhatever type of party you choose, here are some tips on how to host a great company outing:

• Pick a venue that’s special. Could be the newest hotspot that everyone’s dying to see (being first is always fun!). Or you might rent out a spa for a day and treat everyone to massages and mani/peds. Or course, we’re partial to a party on a private yacht on a gorgeous summer day.

• It’s not a party without food. Chicago is a food town with one of the top steak houses in the U.S. and a vast variety of ethnic fare.  On the Free Spirit yachts we offer outstanding menu options from some of the best catering companies in Chicago. Choose from an array of mouthwatering menus, all designed to delight your company party guests. And of course we offer beverage service — from soda/juice to premium open bar.

• Don’t forget the music. Chicago is known for its blues roots. No Chicago-themed party is complete without some Chicago Blues in the playlist. Or if your budget allows, book a live band or DJ.  For an evening cocktail party, book a sexy trio or make a playlist that includes your favorite music.

A great company party will have your staff talking about it long after the event is over. Hopefully you’ll get comments like this:

Hi Joe and Angela,

I wanted to send you a note to tell you what an absolutely AMAZING time we all had on Thursday!!!  Everything was perfect!  The food was great, the staff was awesome and the boat was beautiful!!!  Thanks for everything you did to make this a fantastic day!

Shannan (Tarshis)
Senior Operations Manager
The Futures Company