Cruising Chicago: A Look at Ten of Chicago's Best Cruises, Tours and Water Taxis.

 Cruising Chicago:  A Look at Ten of Chicago's Best Cruises, Tours and Water Taxis.
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There's still time to hit the water in Chicago.  Some boats operate year-round while others are on the water from March to November. Many offer special event cruises from Tall Ships to Fall Foliage, Fireworks, Air and Water Show, Mother's Day, Father's Day, New Year's Eve and more.

1. THE ODYSSEY.

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The Odyssey's 700-passenger ship, the largest cruise vessel to cruise Lake Michigan is 200-ft. long and 55-ft. high.  It is equipped with three climate controlled decks, an outdoor observation deck, three indoor bars, dance floors and offers an exceptional skyline view.   Cruises are available year-round with a limited winter schedule.  Navy Pier, 600 E. Grand, 2 to 3 hours.  $40.00 to $160.00. Charter available.   866 305 2469.

2. THE SPIRIT OF CHICAGO.
                                                                                                                                     

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The Spirit of Chicago is a four-story 192-ft. luxury ship that can accommodate guests from parties of two up to 600.  The ship features three climate controlled dining decks, three indoor bars, two dance floors, stage areas, spacious bathrooms and panoramic windows. Navy Pier, 600 E. Grand, 2 to 3 hours.  $35 to $125.  Cruises year-round with a limited winter schedule. 866 273 2469.

3. MYSTIC BLUE.

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Mystic Blue offers an open-air observation deck and three enclosed decks with the largest picture windows of any dinner boat on Lake Michigan.  The decor is contemporary with sleek, silvery-blue interiors.  Navy Pier, 600 E. Grand. Cruises lakefront year-round with a limited winter schedule. 2 to 3 hours, $35 to $120. Charter available.  877 299 7783.

4. SEADOG.

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The Seadog offers a 30-minute Speedboat Lake Tour, a 75-minute River and Lake Architecture Tour or a 30-minute Extreme Thrill Ride. Cruises lake and river. Seadog season runs from April through October.  $10 to $30. 312 321 7600

5. TALL SHIP WINDY.

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Windy is a 148-ft. traditional four-masted topsail schooner.  It is built with modern materials but has the feel and character of a much older ship.  It can accommodate up to 150 passengers. Lake cruises.  60 to 75 minutes. Concessions. Season runs April through September. $24 to $30. 

6. CHICAGO'S FIRST LADY.

Chicago's First Lady offers daily 90 minute River Architectural cruises with commentary by

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Chicago Architectural Foundation trained docents.  The 1920-styled cruising yachts feature open-air upper deck viewing a well as climate controlled indoor seating.  Concessions, Full Service Bar, $32.May 1 through November 21, 2010.  Riverside Gardens at Michigan Ave. and Wacker Dr.

7. WENDELLA CHICAGO WATER TAXI.

The Chicago Water Taxi, operated by Wendella, runs a closed loop route on the Chicago River shuttling passengers between Chinatown and Madison Street on the south branch to La Salle St. and Michigan Ave. on the main branch.  During summer, departures and arrivals are scheduled on Monday through Friday every 15 minutes from 7a.m. through 7:12p.m., Saturdays from 9:30a.m. through 6:14p.m. and on Sundays and holidays from 10:30a.m. through 5:30p.m. Stops include Ping Tom Memorial Park at the pagoda in Chinatown (through Labor Day).  Other

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stops operate April through November. Madison Street, on the Chicago river one flight down,northwest corner of the Madison St. bridge at 2 North Riverside Plaza just east of Ogilvie station, LaSalle/Clark Dock at Fulton's Market, between LaSalle and Clark on the river; Michigan Ave. and the river, behind the Wrigley building, one flight down.  Tickets $2 to $6, seniors half off on one-way tickets.  Day pass $6.  Monthly passes, $42. Tickets can be purchased on board.  312 337 1446.

8. CHICAGO LINE CRUISES.

Chicago Line Cruises offers both architectural and historical cruises of the Chicago River.  Covered and uncovered seating available. 90 minute cruises, depart from North Pier Docks, Illinois St., McClurg Ct. and the Chicago River.  April 2 through November 28.  $37 adult, $31 senior, $21 child (ages 7 to 18), free, children 6 and under. Tickets include complimentary Starbucks Coffee, soft drinks and fresh-baked muffins or cookies. 312 527 1977.

9. LICKETY SPLIT.

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Lickety Split, operated by Shoreline Sightseeing, is one of the biggest water taxis navigating the Chicago River with two decks and a cabin that can hold up to 109 passengers and 3 crew members.  Shoreline has a  stable of 11 boats including "Giddy Up," "Shake a Leg," "Vamos" and "Allon y."  Willis Tower, (across from Union Station)  Michigan Avenue bridge and the river,. $2 to $7. 

10. THE RED WITCH.

The Red Witch, a registered Tall Ship, is a sailing vessel that

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can carry anywhere from seven to 49 passengers.  2 to 3 hour sailing tours. $35 to $65 adults. Charters available.  Docked Burnham Harbor (1.5 miles south of Navy Pier).  312 404 5800

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