Water safety. Not something we take lightly.

Last week brought this water safety headline: Coast Guard rescues 49 people aboard faulty yacht lost in Lake Michigan fog.

A few words immediately jumped out at us: rescues, faulty yacht, lost in Lake Michigan fog. Reading the article, we learned of additional frightening facts: “no operating navigation system…. not enough life jackets on board…”

A recipe for disaster. Fortunately, all 49 people got back to shore safely thanks to the Coast Guard. But the yacht’s owner faces heavy fines. Or possibly losing his license.

Water safety is not something we take lightly. As the owners of two luxury yachts that host hundreds of charters each season, it’s a responsibility we take very seriously.

Our captains and crew are experienced professionals who are thoroughly trained in yachting safety. Along with the list of safety guidelines posted on our website, we provide this information to clients when they book a charter.

Be prepared for us to be safety sticklers. Coming on board, a crew member will ask your female guests to remove high heels. We’ll refuse to serve liquor to a guest who’s had too much. We won’t go out of the harbor if the lake is too choppy. We’ll keep you safe.

Yes, we’ve had push-back from the occasional charter guest who wants to sit on the hand rail or stand on a bench. Or swim. Or have another drink. But we’d rather have a guest angry with us than injured. Or worse.

Lake Michigan is beautiful, and we feel very fortunate to spend our summers on it. But it’s also deep and cold with currents that have surprised more than a few hapless victims.

The U. S. Coast Guard has been cracking down on illegal charter boats following an increase in the number of injuries sine 2014. Here are a few interesting facts according to boating statistics they’ve compiled from 2015:

  • 71% of deaths occurred on boats where the operator did not receive boating safety instruction.
  • 8 out of 10 boaters who drowned were in smaller boats (less than 21 ft.). Think rowboats, motor boats, canoes, not large yachts.
  • and not surprisingly, alcohol is the leading cause of fatal boating accidents.

We hope the Coast Guard continues to pursue illegal charter boats because water fatalities are something none of us want to see. It hurts business. It ruins lives.

We want to see you come back again and again. And so we’ll do whatever it takes to make sure your Free Spirit Yacht Charter experience is one that you and your guests will remember happily for years to come.

What our clients say:

Thank you so much for a wonderful experience Wednesday night! You and your crew were a huge part in us having a successful event with our partners. You made it extremely easy for us to coordinate and I truly appreciate you allowing us to customize our event with the tea cocktails and tea beer. Our guests loved it! Everyone on your crew from the safety lesson to our captain and bartender were excellent and very kind. We enjoyed everything so much and will definitely be back! You can count on me to spread your name by word of mouth 🙂 Thanks again for everything!” -Ashley & the Tiesta Tea Team

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We’re launching the Free Spirit and Gypsy Spirit

Free Spirit and Gypsy Spirit Yacht Cruises

We’re excited to tell you that we’re launching the Free Spirit and Gypsy Spirit. Free Spirit Yacht Cruises will be back in Burnham Harbor in April!

Free Spirit and Gypsy Spirit

You’ve probably noticed. Despite the cold, spring is peeking around the corner. The days are getting longer. Don’t forget we Spring Forward on March 11th (hurray!). Could there be better news?

Actually, there could.

Spring means it’s time to start planning your summer fun. And in Chicago, summer fun is synonymous with Lake Michigan and our amazing lakefront.

Mouthwatering menus and more

We’ve been busy booking charters and designing mouthwatering menus for the 2018 season. Captain Joe and the crew are hard at work making sure everything is immaculate and in perfect working order aboard the Free Spirit and Gypsy Spirit. Come April, our yachts will be ready to cruise Lake Michigan for your private events, company outings, meetings and more.

Yacht Yoga

We’re practicing yoga on a yacht.

Free Spirit Yacht Yoga

We’ve got something extra special and fun for you to enjoy on Lake Michigan. It’s Yacht Yoga. Yes, Angela is leading Vinyasa yoga classes on the deck of the Free Spirit. What a perfect spot to focus on mindfulness and relaxation, right?

Angela has been teaching YogaSculpt since April, 2015. She’s earned her 200-hour teaching credentials for Vinyasa yoga and will have 100-hour teaching credentials for Yin Yoga as of March 23rd when she returns from Costa Rica. Angela wants to share some of the wonderful benefits of yoga with clients and friends.

If you’re one of those people who puts others before yourself too often or simply find you need a little “me” time, this is the class for you. We’ll create your own private Yacht Yoga event or you can sign-up for our open Sunday afternoon Yacht Yoga flow.

Coming soon to Burnham Harbor!

If you’re missing the sunshine, watch the video we’ve created to get you in the spring spirit. It’s our “Taste of Chicago” but with cruises. It features 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 😉 ) Be sure to watch ’til the end to meet our captains and crew.

We hope you’ll 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.

How to Host the Best Company Outing Ever!

Few places compare to Chicago in the summer. There are so many fun things to do — from sports to concerts and festivals all over the city.

Of course, we love summer because we get to help clients host the best company outing ever on Lake Michigan. Nothing beats a Lake Michigan private yacht charter or river cruise for hosting your summer social or company outing.

Yes, it’s that time of year. We’ve been reminiscing about all the fun events we’ve had aboard the Free Spirit and Gypsy Spirit.

Company Outing

Host the Best Company Outing

A Free Spirit yacht cruise is a unique and memorable way to host your company outing or entertain clients. With warm sunny days and beautiful evenings ahead, we thought you’d like to know what we offer.

Some of our clients have started their “play” day with team building at the office before making their way to Burnham Harbor to board the Free Spirit. There, they enjoyed lunch while cruising on Lake Michigan with Chicago’s magnificent skyline as a backdrop. Talk about an awesome out-of-the-office day.

We have clients who book charters with us every year and usually choose one of our Chicago-themed menus. But recently, we’ve received more calls asking if we do upscale menus as well.

So we wanted to let you know. Absolutely!


In addition to delicious casual fare, we’re pleased to offer luxe, fancy, upscale (call it what you will) customized menus and premium beverage service.

For example, one client chartered a cruise for 15 people aboard the Gypsy Spirit. Guests dined on a delectable Magnificent Mile Buffet, featuring grilled salmon with champagne sauce, beef tenderloin, baby vegetables, wild rice with sautéed mushrooms and more. And a premium bar.

Did they enjoy it? You bet!

Who’s been cruising with us?
Here are some of the companies who charter yachts with us: Yahoo, Google, Hulu, University of Chicago, the French Pastry School (yum!), Best Buy, Target, JP Morgan, Leo Burnett, and Draft FCB….to name a few.

What our clients say:

“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, TRU

Best Company Outing

Sound like something your company would enjoy this summer? We’re booking charters now. If you have a date in mind, call us at 708-361-2220. We’ll be happy to help you plan your outing or company party.

5 things we are grateful for at Free Spirit Yacht Cruises

Happy Thanksgiving


Thanksgiving always makes us stop to think about all the things we’re grateful for – our health, our family, our friends and so much more.

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.

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

  • At the top of our list are clients and friends like you!
  • Running a business where our goal is to make people happy.
  • Providing an exceptional & wonderful experience.
  • Beautiful days and magnificent sunsets.
  • 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!

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

2017 Free Spirit Yacht Cruises charter season

Happy Spring and welcome to the start of the 2017 Free Spirit Yacht Cruises charter season.

We wait all winter for this time of year. It means that our Free Spirit and Gypsy Spirit luxury yachts are back at Burnham Harbor – immaculately ready for charter season on our beautiful Lake Michigan.

Apparently, some of you feel the same way we do. We’ve already had several charters before the season even officially opened.

We have exciting news to share with you. To celebrate Spring and the 2017 yacht season, we’re having another Free Spirit GIVEAWAY. Last year’s was such a big hit that we’re doing a repeat. But this year, we’ve added some new prizes.

Free Spirit Yacht YogaHere’s what you can win!

A Private Yacht Yoga Event

1 Lucky winner will receive a Private Yacht Yoga Event for up to 6 yogis ($210 Value).

You and 5 of your friends will enjoy yoga outdoors on board the Free Spirit. Gazing out at the blue waters of Lake Michigan, it’s the perfect way to relax and focus on mindfulness.

Angela is a yoga instructor. She’s been teaching YogaSculpt for several years and it’s changed her life. Last year, she started offering Yacht Yoga classes on the deck of the Free Spirit. Classes incorporate Vinyasa yoga which focuses on movement and the breath. This practice helps you relax, unwind and breathe. And smile……you’ll probably be grinning about winning such a fun prize.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Merlot & Massage Cruise Tickets

2 Lucky Winners will each receive 2 Merlot & Massage Cruise Tickets ($130 Value)

Relax on board a luxurious private yacht while you enjoy melt-away-the-stress massages (foot, hand, shoulder), smooth wine and a delicious buffet. Free Spirit’s Merlot and Massage is everyone’s favorite. We only do it once a year, and it’s always fully booked.

May Giveaway

Free Spirit or Gypsy Spirit T-shirt

4 Lucky Winners will receive either a Free Spirit or Gypsy Spirit T-shirt.

Soft and comfy, these Free Spirit Yacht Cruises tees and tanks are client favorites. Now they can be yours too.

Free Spirit T Shirt

Now for the details……

Enter as many times as you want. NO limit! No kidding.

Starting May 1st and ending May 31st.

The 7 lucky winners will be selected randomly and announced on June 1st.

Winners will be notified by email and also announced on social media.

Sound like fun? That’s what we thought! Head over to our website entry page and start entering today.

Merlot and Massage Cruise

Good luck! And don’t forget to tell your friends. If one of them wins and you don’t, you might be their plus one.

























10 years since we launched Free Spirit Yacht Cruises. Hard to believe.

10 years. Hard to believe.

It’s been ten wild, where-did-they-go? years since Joe and I launched our version of Free Spirit Yacht Cruises.

The company was originally founded by Joe’s parents in 1983 and was thriving. Joe worked there for eighteen years as a captain. But his parents were retiring, and we had our own plans.

Our first plan was to get married. As it turns out, that was a great decision! Right, Joe (wink, wink)? Next, we would buy the company.


Joe and I work well together and our backgrounds and skill sets complement one another — important because even though we both had a lot experience in the yacht charter industry, we were basically building a new company.

Our Free Spirit Yacht Cruises Journey

One particularly challenging issue – the year we launched followed on the heels of the Great Recession. Yacht charters were not exactly high on the list of necessities. People who had lost jobs were thinking about finding new ones and putting food on the table. Marketing yacht charters would require a lot of energy, creative marketing and patience.

Free Spirit Cruises

Fortunately, Joe and I both like a challenge. We didn’t let the economy deter us. Chicagoans love summer and Free Spirit Yacht Charters is a service that our clients love.

Company Cruise

Free Spirit Yacht Cruises

So we put one foot in front of the other (in deck shoes) and moved ahead. We did some redesigns on both the Free Spirit and the Gypsy Spirit. New finishes. New furniture. Lots of paint. And lots of elbow grease.

Meanwhile, we ramped up the catering, adding themed buffets and premium bar options and bringing in topnotch catering companies. We wrote a marketing plan and implemented it. Joe and I hired experts to help us in areas where we needed assistance.

At the same time, we went out and introduced ourselves to concierges and hotel managers. We joined a few chambers and did some networking (Joe was always the guy in the Hawaiian shirt, summer or winter). We passed out lots of cards and brochures and redesigned our website. A lot of work but well worth the effort.

Captain Joe

Today we are the proud owners of a company we love. And we get to spend every April through October out on Lake Michigan. Pretty sweet deal if you ask us!

So even though we’ll occasionally join in the Chicago sport of complaining about the cold, we know it’s just a matter of time before our yachts are back in Burnham Harbor.

We’re looking forward to the 2017 yachting season. We’ve already nailed down dates for some upcoming events. Merlot and Massage Cruise, anyone? Yacht yoga? Fireworks cruises? Never too early to sign up for these.

Yacht Yoga

Yacht Yoga

We’re excited about getting back on the water and hope to see you on an upcoming charter for your company meeting, client appreciation cruise, family party, wedding, shower, anniversary……you name it….if you’re celebrating an event or entertaining clients, we hope you’ll do it on a Free Spirit luxury yacht.

Merlot and Massage Cruise

Merlot and Massage Cruise

Free Spirit Yacht Cruises is already booking charter cruises well into 2017, so don’t wait too long if you’ve got specific dates in mind.

Learn more about Our Story.









Highlight of the 2016 Summer. So far. Chicago Fireworks Cruise.

We don’t mean to play “can you top this?” Chicago fireworks cruise. But how did you spend your 4th of July weekend?

One of the fun things we did was host a private yacht charter for the cast and crew from The Sponge Bob Musical, War Paint and The Book of Mormon!

Chicago Fireworks Cruise

Can you say magical night? We got feedback like this:

“We had the best 4th of July ever!…..Their (the Free Spirit Yacht crew) hospitality is amazing. We felt at home and happy. Also, Captain Joe is funny (Joe loved that)!” – Vasthy Mompoint

As you can see from some of the photos we took, guests had a blast. The weather cooperated (lucky us). Cast members hammed it up. And everyone enjoyed being out on Lake Michigan with the spectacular Chicago skyline as a backdrop.

We cruised past Navy Pier and the big new Ferris Wheel. And then Captain Joe found one of his perfect fireworks watching spot.

And then there were FIREWORKS! The pictures pretty much tell the story.

Fourth of July Cruise

If you’ve been looking for a fun way to entertain clients or host a company party or Chicago fireworks cruise, a private luxury yacht charter might be just the thing. We offer delectable catering options (food and bar) in a luxurious setting that make it oh-so-easy to mix business with pleasure.

That’s why many of our corporate clients book private yacht charters with us season after season.

“This is the 4th time I rented the Gypsy and keep coming back because we have had such a wonderful experience! I guarantee we will rent again in the future and have provided information to other friends looking for boat rentals. Thanks again!” – Katie Freund

Sound like something you’d like to do before the season ends? Here’s how to reach us: call 708.361.2220 or request a proposal.

Check out a snippet from this Free Spirit Chicago Fireworks Cruise!






Treat your staff. Wow your clients.

This photo pretty much says it all. Late afternoon cruise. A glimpse of the world-famous Chicago skyline in the background. Relaxed and happy group enjoying a Chicago summer cruise on the Chicago River and Lake Michigan.

Company CruiseThis summer, we’ve already had more than a few charter cruises that looked like this. Company outings to treat staff to something special. Or companies entertaining clients on a corporate charter that says: “We value your business and want to show you how much!”

Whether you’re doing a company party, a corporate meeting or a client appreciation party, few venues can top a private luxury yacht charter.

Three hours relaxing as you cruise Lake Michigan. The spectacular Chicago skyline in the distance. A delectable buffet. Music in the background (live, DJ or iPod). Hanging out with people you like and enjoying a summer afternoon (or morning brunch or evening). Your call – we do them all.

After being cooped up all winter, hosting a company meeting on a luxury yacht is probably the nicest thing you can do for your staff. And from what we hear from corporate clients who book with us year after year, the payback in employee engagement is huge.

This is the kind of feedback we get:

“Thank you – everyone on the team had a great time at our outing! The service, experience and everything exceeded expectations. The #1 surprise was how good, helpful and organized all the staff on the boat were. We never had to ask for anything – they were always one step ahead.

Thank you for helping me organize the outing! Hope to do another one again in the future.”

Dean Gordon
FTI Consulting

Want to do something really special for your team or clients? Call us today to find out how to book a private charter for your group.




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?