Charter FAQ's

Why you don't want to wear high heels.

High heels are not recommended. There are stairs on our boats (ladder on the Gypsy Spirit) and you want to be able to go from one level to another. Our advice: when dressing up for the evening, slip a pair of flats in your purse.

Why is food required?

We require food on all of our charters. It is our experience that yachting with alcohol alone for several hours is a bad combination. Our goal is to do everything we can to ensure that you and your charter guests have an enjoyable experience. And we guarantee your guests will enjoy the wonderful fresh food provided.

Do you have safety guidelines?

  • No sitting on hand rails.
  • No standing on benches or chairs.
  • No smoking, shots, beer bongs or drinking games.
  • No swimming.
  • Do not enter areas marked “crew only”. For example, the United States Coast Guard does not want people in the galley where there is a working stove/oven.

Are there bathrooms aboard your yachts?

The Free Spirit and Gypsy Spirit have 2 marine toilets on each yacht. There are no plumbers at sea. The marine toilet (called a head) is a complicated mechanism any foreign matter (especially feminine hygiene products) thrown into it may cause trouble.

Are your yachts inspected and licensed for commercial use?

The Free Spirit and Gypsy Spirit are United States Coast Guard inspected annually and licensed for commercial use.

Can we bring children aboard the Free Spirit and Gypsy Spirit?

Children are welcome aboard the Free Spirit or Gypsy Spirit. Children under 90 lbs. are required to wear life jackets on outside deck areas. You will need to provide life jackets for your infants or small children.

Do you recommend anything for seasickness?

If you or your guests are prone to seasickness, here are some tips: take your medication one hour before your charter. And to minimize queasiness, try to stay in the fresh air and above deck. The worst thing to do is go below deck with no land or horizon to look at.

How should we dress?

Even though we have a lot of indoor space, there’s a good deal of outdoor deck space as well. So in order to enjoy the sights and fresh air, a jacket, sweater or wrap is highly recommended. The water temperature is 10 to 15 degrees below land temperature, so it’s cooler out on Lake Michigan. However, if you forget your jacket, we do have blankets on board to keep you cozy. Also, in the summer, sunscreen and sunglasses are very important. The sun reflects off the water and can cause sunburn if you’re not protected. Lastly, high heels are not recommended. There are stairs on our boats and you want to be able to go from one level to another. Our advice: when dressing-up for the evening, slip a pair of flats in your purse.

Are there stereo-systems on the yachts?

The Free Spirit and Gypsy Spirit have a stereo-system that plays music inside and outside. There is an AUX cord to connect your mobile devices, XM radio and a microphone. You can hire our DJ or band for your Free Spirit Cruise. The Gypsy Spirit is not set-up to accommodate a DJ or band.

Do you allow smoking aboard your Free Spirit yachts?

The Free Spirit and Gypsy Spirit are non-smoking yachts. In compliance with the City of Chicago no-smoking ordinance, we do not allow smoking.

Where are your charter yachts docked?

The Gypsy Spirit is located at dock J slip 25 and the Free Spirit is at dock J slip 24 in Burnham Harbor (Chicago). We’re conveniently located just southeast of Soldier Field….about a 5 minute cab ride from downtown Chicago.

What happens if it rains or the weather won’t cooperate?

Your charter will proceed as scheduled. Our yachts are large enough to have your group inside, the food will have been ordered, and your guests invited. We’ve hosted lots of parties and meetings when the weather was less than ideal.

Can I get a refund? Sorry, there are no refunds due to inclement weather. All bookings are non-refundable.

Do you provide beverage service or can we bring our own?

We have several bar packages, which are broken down on our bar menu. All numbers must be guaranteed 10 days prior when final payment is made on your cruise. At this time, the number of people attending the cruise may be increased; however, there will be no refunds if the numbers are decreased.

You cannot bring your own beverages because we have our own liquor license. Cruise guests will not be permitted to bring aboard liquor or carry it off of the yachts; all liquor must be consumed while on board the ship.

Do you provide catering, or can we bring our own food aboard the Free Spirit or Gypsy Spirit for our event?

We work with the city’s finest caterers to provide an extraordinary variety of customized menus that will excite your taste buds and delight your guests. You may also customize your own menu. We highly recommended using our existing catering menus since they have been designed specifically for the yachts (and taste tested by thousands of happy guests). Exceptions: If you really want to have your own special caterer, there is a $1000. outside catering fee, and you must show proof of insurance.

What do we need to do to reserve our date and time?

  • To Confirm Your Date: A non-refundable deposit is required. We cannot guarantee a date will be available for either of our charter yachts without a deposit.
  • Terms: A deposit is required to hold a charter reservation for your event. The deposit is 50% of the Chicago yacht charter fee. The balance, along with final guest count, is due 10 days prior to your charter date.
  • Any restrictions? There is no smoking inside our yachts. And we don’t book bachelor parties (sorry, guys). But we do host bridal and baby showers.
  • Referrals: Who would I know who has rented your yachts? You can view a partial client list and check out some of our testimonials on our website or our blog.

How far in advance should we book our special event?

Once you know the date and time of day, you should contact us. If you have an alternate date/time, please let us know. Our yachts can be booked many months in advance, so better to book ahead than wait.

Where do we park? What's traffic like?

You can park in the south lot of Burnham Harbor for approximately $29. You will pay the parking meter box with cash or credit card, there are no parking attendants. Call Standard Parking to verify availability and pricing for your parking needs at 312-274-2000. Free Spirit Yacht Cruises has no control over parking in Burnham Harbor.

When there’s a lot of activity around the Museum Campus and Soldier Field, parking can be limited at Burnham Harbor. In these instances, you’ll see additional Chicago Police and harbor personnel monitoring the area and parking lot. While personnel should know to allow you access to the harbor for a charter, you may need to tell them you’re going to Slip J for a Free Spirit Yacht Cruise.

Special events generally mean more traffic, and you’ll want to be prepared. You may want to rent a bus or take public transportation rather than deal with parking.