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Chicago Architecture Foundation Center River Cruise aboard Chicago’s First Lady

Sets Sail on July 3

Official architecture tour announces 2020 opening weekend schedule departing from the Chicago Riverwalk, new measures for safe reopening

CHICAGO, June 29, 2020 – Chicago’s First Lady Cruises and the Chicago Architecture Center have announced their 2020 opening weekend schedule for the official Chicago Architecture Foundation Center (CAFC) River Cruise aboard Chicago’s First Lady, the premier way to experience Chicago’s world-class architecture. The organizations officially launch the 2020 CAFC River Cruise season on Friday, July 3, continuing their storied 27-year partnership inspiring guests with the city’s rich architectural beauty and history and offering an unforgettable outdoor open-air escape in the heart of the city.

Ranked the #1 boat tour in Chicago based on TripAdvisor user reviews, the CAFC River Cruise is the most in-depth, authentic architecture river cruise available, the only cruise narrated by Chicago Architecture Center volunteer-docents, and the only cruise with proceeds from ticket fees supporting the Chicago Architecture Center’s nonprofit educational mission. Expertly trained volunteer-docents bring unique perspectives to their tours, sharing their passion for the history and design of more than 50 buildings along the Chicago River. Tour guests leave inspired by the city’s wide variety of architectural styles including Art Deco, Neoclassicism, Mid-Century Modernism, and Postmodernism.

As the city begins reopening, Chicago’s First Lady Cruises returns to its familiar docking location on Chicago’s Riverwalk ready to provide a comfortable, safe environment for local residents and visitors looking for fun staycation experiences to rediscover Chicago. Each vessel features a spacious, 360-degree view open air upper deck with unparalleled views of the city’s skyline. In addition to spacing upper deck open-air seating with social distancing in mind to help curb the virus spread, new measures to protect guest and staff safety include:

  • Enhanced cleaning processes before and between tours
  • New hand-sanitation stations in addition to soap and hot water available in on-board bathrooms
  • Extended boarding times to allow for social distancing and less time waiting to board
  • New cashless and touchless transactions for the comfort and convenience of guests
  • Open-air upper deck bar and beverage concessions
  • Face coverings required for guests and staff (except while eating or drinking)
  • Increased fresh-air airflow and limited access for indoor areas

As downtown Chicago continues to evolve, the 90-minute tour evolves with it to ensure guests learn about the city’s latest architectural achievements, including the brand-new Vista Tower, the city’s new third tallest structure and the world’s tallest building designed by a woman-led office: renowned architect Jeanne Gang’s Chicago-based firm Studio Gang.

Guests can continue exploring the city’s rich architectural history by adding an additional $5 to their tour admission to visit the renowned Chicago Architecture Center, a world-class destination sharing secrets behind Chicago and its architectural significance.

New for the 2020 cruising season, Chicago’s First Lady Cruises will begin offering regularly scheduled cruises aboard Lady Grebe, a vintage six-passenger yacht, for a private, safe, unique cruise experience. A private restroom, hand sanitization stations, and a small crew ensures an intimate atmosphere for families, groups, visiting celebrities, and more to explore the Chicago River from the comfort and privacy of their own 1961 vintage yacht. CAC volunteer-docents are available upon advance request to enhance the private experience and share Chicago’s rich architectural history. Lady Grebe’s private offerings will be available for groups of 2-6 passengers and depart Friday-Sunday at 1:30 p.m., 3:45 p.m. and 6 p.m. Private cruise fees begin at $495, and food and beverage service and a private CAC guide may be added with an additional fee.

Boarding Location:

All cruises depart from 112 E. Wacker Drive at the southeast corner of Michigan Avenue and Wacker Drive on the Chicago Riverwalk, just steps from the Chicago Architecture Center at 111 E. Wacker Drive. Discounted self-park with validation is available at 111 E. Wacker Drive. Guests can complement their River Cruise experience with a visit to the Chicago Architecture Center, featuring permanent and temporary exhibitions on two floors of galleries and the Chicago City Model Experience, updated in June 2020 and featuring more than 4,250 scale buildings offering a bird’s-eye view of river cruise route highlights. Chicago’s First Lady Cruises guests have the option to purchase a Combination ticket, which includes admission to the Chicago Architecture Center within 7 days following their cruise, for an additional $5, saving them $7 on each Center admission.

Departure Schedule:

The Chicago Architecture Foundation Center River Cruise aboard Chicago’s First Lady departure times will vary throughout the season. Please note the 2020 season has been disrupted and is now operating on a condensed summer schedule. The latest departure times are available online at www.cruisechicago.com or www.architecture.org.

●       Opening weekend daytime cruises will depart:

o   Friday July 3 at 12:30 p.m., 2 p.m., 3 p.m. and 4:30 p.m.

o   Saturday July 4 and Sunday July 5 at 10 a.m., 11:30 a.m., 12:30 p.m., 2 p.m., 3 p.m., and 4:30 p.m.

●       Opening weekend evening cruises will depart:

o   Friday July 3, Saturday July 4 and Sunday July 5 at 5:30 p.m. and 7 p.m.

Ticket Information:

Tickets start at $46.29* for the daytime river cruise. Tickets for the Evening River Cruises start at $51.02*.

*Prices subject to change.

Tickets can be obtained the following ways:

●       bypassing the box office with e-ticket purchases at ticketmaster.com/rivercruise (highly recommended option due to tour popularity)

●       in-person at Chicago’s First Lady Cruises’ dockside box office, 112 E. Wacker Dr., Riverwalk level

●       in-person at Chicago Architecture Center’s box office, 111 East Wacker Drive

○       by phone at 1-800-982-2787 (within the U.S.) or 011-949-333-4001 (outside the U.S.)

Groups of 10 or more may reserve in advance by contacting the Group Sales Department at groupsales@architecture.org or by calling 312-322-1130. Chicago’s First Lady Cruises’ fleet of luxurious open-air yachts may be chartered on a private basis complete with custom food service, beverage packages and a docent-led tour for special events or a more personalized, intimate experience with close family and friends. More information can be found at CruiseChicago.com or by calling 847-358-1330.

Chicago Architecture Center:

Chicago Architecture Center (CAC) is located at 111 E. Wacker Drive, across the street from Chicago’s First Lady’s departure dock. The CAC exhibits will be open Thursdays through Mondays from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. beginning July 3. Guests may add a visit to the Center for just $5 per person when purchased in combination with the River Cruise.



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