Like a lot of Midwesterners, I associate boating and cruises with a sort of luxurious lifestyle; or at least with the sort of vacation that may only come along once or twice in a lifetime. What I overlooked, until recently, is how great of an experience the great lakes provide in terms of boating and pleasure cruising. I ran by the lake every day, but didn’t consider exactly how accessible it was, until a friend at work took her family out for dinner on the lake. I went online to Concierge Preferred – my now favorite site for finding “things to do in Chicago” – and found Odyssey Cruises operating out of Navy Pier in Chicago.
What I really liked about Odyssey, apart from the cruise itself, was how flexible they were. I booked ahead, and the reservation was quick and very simple to make. I took my family on a Sunday after church. We weren’t looking to compete with the brunch crowd, but still managed to have a great midday cruise around lunchtime. It worked out perfectly: we had a light breakfast before the service, and then my kids came hungry after church for one of the best meals they’ve had on land or on the water. They weren’t used to eating duck, but after a little coaxing — and maybe a little fib about it being chicken — they were thoroughly cleaning their plates. The New York style cheesecake at the end also went over really well. Timing our cruise after the service really helped my kids fit in with the dress code, too…
High-rise views of Chicago are quite popular with tourists and weekend sightseers, but there is no substitute for a panoramic view of the downtown area from the water. That, the fact that lake Michigan really does feel like an ocean, and the smoothness of the Odyssey’s ride made the trip comparable to an ocean liner coming into port. I wish I had known that this type of experience was lying in wait, in my backyard, much sooner. My son asked the captain how many of his friends could ride the boat, and the answer surprised me. If I ever wanted to splurge on a great party for 750 people in the city, I’ll be giving Odyssey cruises another call.
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