Spirit of Chicago
Spirit of Chicago
Incorporated in 2006, Entertainment Cruises offers customers an unusual perk for a brand new company – over 45 years of combined expertise in dining and sightseeing cruises.
This is the story of two entrepreneurial harbor cruise companies that started out as competitors, but ended up partners in the largest harbor cruise company in America.
It began back in 1978 when a young businessman in Norfolk, Virginia, converted an old World War II landing craft into a dining cruise vessel on the historic Elizabeth River. The popular ship was christened Spirit of Norfolk and a new company called Spirit Cruises was born.
Over the years, Spirit Cruises entertained 18 million passengers as it expanded into seven major cities including Boston, Chicago, New York, Weehawken (NJ), Philadelphia and Washington, DC in addition to its original port of Norfolk. As Spirit’s fleet grew to 12 vessels, three distinct cruise experiences emerged: fun & festive Spirit Dining Cruises, Elite Private Yacht Charters and a gourmet dining cruise aboard Bateaux New York, Spirit’s own version of the glass-enclosed riverboats of Paris.
Now fast forward to the late 1980s and a young bar manager working for the Spirit of Chicago named Michael Higgins. Drafting his vision on a napkin, he came up with a concept for an upscale dinner cruise experience that featured fine, first class service and elegance. He called his visionOdyssey, and his concept and marketing plan soon brought investors on board. In May 1991, the 600-passenger Odyssey I was christened at Navy Pier and Michael Higgins became an industry leader in a new company called Premier Yachts, Inc.
After just one season it was clear that the company was destined for growth. By 1993, the original Odyssey I was relocated to Boston Harbor and a new, larger Odyssey II took over the Chicago berth. In 1995, Odyssey III joined the fleet as the only ship of its kind designed to cruise beneath the historic bridges spanning the Potomac River in Washington, DC. Over the next six years, Premier Yachts added four sleek speedboats branded Seadog I, II, III & IV to its fleet in Chicago, as well as a casual and fun dining vessel called Mystic Blue.
In January of 2006, a new chapter was written in the logbooks of both Spirit Cruises and Premier Yachts as they merged the best of both companies into one remarkable corporation called Entertainment Cruises, Inc. With 23 vessels serving eight cities with six unique cruise products, Entertainment Cruises is focused on creating even more superior dining and entertainment experiences for its guests. New ships, new cruise products, new ways to enjoy America’s greatest waterways – they are all coming your way in the years ahead. Welcome Aboard!