In Chicago, one thing is certain. The weather won’t be.

Wednesday, July 1st dawned way cooler than we would’ve liked. And it never went higher than 66.

Not exactly ideal summer weather…..especially when you’re running private yacht charters on Lake Michigan.

But hey, this IS Chicago. And if there’s one thing we can always be sure of, it’s that the weather is never predictable. So we roll with it. And we have heat on the yachts.

A few years ago, during a particularly cold run, we stocked up on blankets. Just in case anyone forgot to bring a sweater on the boat and wanted to be out on deck.

Private Yacht Charters

This year when July 1st brought chilly weather, we prayed that it wouldn’t dampen the charters we were running that night.

We wanted them to enjoy it as much as they had the first two times.

So we were very happy to get this feedback…..

Angela and Joe,

“Everybody enjoyed it very much….good comments on the food, as well as the crew and how friendly everyone was. They also liked the DJ, the fireworks and the dancing.  Thanks to you and your crew for a memorable event.”

Shane Swanson, New York Life, Managing Partner

We may not be able to control the weather, but we can make sure your guests are well attended to when you charter with us. And find you a great DJ. Cause who doesn’t like to party on a yacht!

Have a happy and safe 4th of July weekend;)

Thank you to our Free Spirit Partners!

It was another fantastically fun Merlot and Massage Cruise this year!  And a huge “Thank You!” to all that helped make this year’s event a big success.

Stivers Coffee treated us with delicious fruit smoothies and exceptional coffee creations.  Starting this year, you can add their service to your Free Spirit Cruise!

Stivers Coffee


Mary is a holistic health professional offering a variety of therapies.  Thank you Mary and Jessica for the soothing hand and foot massages.

Holistic Health


Delos Wellness introduced and provided amazing treatments for muscle relief for chronic pain and stiffness.  If you have never tried Delos therapy, you can schedule a complimentary Delos therapy session at their 600 West Chicago Avenue location.  Or you can create your own private cruise and add a Delos therapist to your event for an additional fee.

Delos Therapy


We had so many Super Stars pampering and sharing great energy with our Free Spirit charter guests.  Thank you Chris Ramsey and her team of massage therapists.



We love Rickey Gold! Rickey has been working with Free Spirit Yacht Cruises since Joe and I took over in 2007.  She is a master copy writer and excellent marketer. Thank you for adding list checker to your resume;)

Rickey Gold


Thanks to Catered by Design for their tasty treats, Jansco Promotional Products for delivering our new Free Spirit wine glasses on time, VoFotos for capturing so many beautiful moments and Windy City Silkscreening for our Fun Free Spirit t-shirts!

Free Spirit T-Shirt


And “Thank You” Mother Nature:)

Free Spirit Cruise

How are we going to top this for next year’s Merlot and Massage Cruise?


Free Spirit Yacht Cruises Giveaway

We’re giving away goodies.

It’s spring. We’re happy. You’re happy. What better way to celebrate than with a GIVEAWAY! So that’s what we’re doing.

The Free Spirit Yacht Cruises Giveaway runs May 1st – May 31st.

It’s safe and secure to enter. 16 lucky people will win prizes. And there are multiple ways to enter.

What can you win?

  • 3 Lucky Winners will each get 2 Merlot & Massage Cruise Tickets
  • 5 Lucky Winners will receive either a Free Spirit or Gypsy Spirit T-shirt
  • 8 Lucky Winners will receive a Free Spirit Wine Glass

“How do I enter?” It’s easy!

  1. Go to this link: Free Spirit Yacht Cruises Giveaway
  2. Use your Facebook login or enter your email address.

Merlot and Massage CruisePrizes

Merlot & Massage Cruise

You can’t buy tickets anymore, but you CAN win 2 of them in our raffle!

Free Spirit Yacht Cruises had it’s first Merlot & Massage Cruise in May, 2010. It was a big hit and is the only open cruise we run all season. This year we have the Free Spirit and the Gypsy Spirit going out with groups to relax and unwind.

Here’s a quote from Now You Know Events blog post about their Merlot & Massage Cruise experience, “Guests were treated like royalty by Captain Joe Donofrio and family as they enjoyed cocktails and good company.”

Free Spirit or Gypsy Spirit T-Shirt

With the help of our friends at  Windy City Silkscreening, we’ve created fun new t-shirts for our clients.  We won’t be selling these t-shirts. Yes you can enter our raffle to win!

Gypsy Spirit T-Shirt

Free Spirit Wine Glass

If you’ve ever chartered the Free Spirit or Gypsy Spirit, you know, we give every charter client a gift bag with our Free Spirit Wine Glass.  Below is a photo one of ouour clients shared with us:) Guess what?  You can enter Free Spirit Yacht Cruises May Giveaway to win!

Free Spirit Wine Glass

Signature Free Spirit Wine Glass

You can enter multiple times, so don’t stop at just one. And be sure to tell your friends.

Winners will be selected randomly on June 1st. We’ll announce winning names on social media and email winners directly.

Good luck, Everyone!

Any questions, shoot us an email:

Free Spirit Yacht Cruises will be back in Burnham Harbor!

Have you noticed? Despite the cold, snow and ice, spring is quietly peeking around the corner. The days are getting longer, and it’s still light after 5:30. Could there be better news?

Actually, there could.

Cause it’s time to start planning your summer fun. And in Chicago, summer fun is synonymous with Lake Michigan and our glorious lakefront. So we’re excited to share the news that we’re launching the Free Spirit and Gypsy Spirit in April. Free Spirit Yacht Cruises will be back in Burnham Harbor!

Captain Joe and the crew have been hard at work making sure everything is immaculate and in perfect working order aboard the Gypsy Spirit and Free Spirit. Angela and her team are busy booking charters and designing mouthwatering menus for the 2015 season. Come April, our yachts will be ready to cruise Lake Michigan for your private events, company outings, meetings and more.

To get you in the spring spirit, here’s a video we put together. It’s our “Taste of Chicago” but with cruises, featuring our clients and friends with images of Chicago’s magnificent skyline, Navy Pier fireworks, the Air & Water Show and of course a gorgeous Chicago sunset (remember those  😉 ) Watch ‘til the end to meet our captains and crew.

Please share the video with your friends, colleagues or anyone who’s looking forward to summer and may want to experience Chicago’s most inviting yachts.


What are 5 things you would give thanks for this Thanksgiving?

Thanksgiving always makes us stop to think about all the things we’re grateful for – our health, our family, our friends…

Focusing on gratitude and giving thanks can really enhance our daily lives. It can be a struggle to keep an optimistic outlook with the cold, grey winters, traffic jams and the holiday hustle-bustle. However, starting the day writing out 5 things to be grateful for shifts our mind into a state of gratitude.

Good Times

Here are the top 5 things we are grateful for at Free Spirit Yacht Cruises this Thanksgiving!

  1. At the top of our list are clients and friends like you!
  2. Running a business where our goal is to make people happy
  3. Providing an exceptional & wonderful experience
  4. Beautiful days and magnificent sunsets
  5. Good times and smiles


On a personal note to practice this exercise of gratitude on a daily basis, opens us up to see how much we have and less focused on the things we don’t. It’s amazing!

Happy Thanksgiving
All of us at Free Spirit Yacht Cruises wishes you and your family a blessed and wonderful Thanksgiving!!

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.


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 helping empower 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

“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.