Tall Ships, Chicago – Never Again!

From the archive, originally posted in August 2010.

I had a friend in town this weekend and we went to the Tall Ships event at Navy Pier. It was billed as a “Once in a lifetime event.” I found that a little odd since this event has been to Chicago in the past as I remember. Once if not twice. Well, now I get it. Since I will never go to this disorganized, disappointing event again, it is truly a once in a lifetime thing. As we entered the crowded entrance it was hard to see where to buy tickets. First we went to one booth with a Tall Ships sign and then learned that it was just will call. If that wasn’t just written on a white board on the ground by everyone’s feet, we and many others could have saved some time.

We then got in a long line to buy tickets. To view the ships cost $15 and to board them cost $20 so the higher price seemed worth it as you’d have a much better experience, right? Not necessarily. Once we got tickets we sought out the entrance. Since it was poorly marked that took a while in the crowds. We found it and decided to pass the first ship which had a long line. We just viewed that from the dock and went on board the second ship, which was fine, but you really had to move along. After that we went to the next ship and saw a sign saying the wait would be half an hour. There were 20 ships in all and though some were on the lake, we hoped to see more than three. We used the so so map to go to the other side of Navy Pier. It was so crowded, and moving was hard , worse than China, in fact. Once on the other side, we found it impossible to get a close view of the ships due to gates and Do Not Enter signs. We glimpsed a couple more ships before we gave up and decided to take a water taxi back to Union Station.

The water taxi service was disorganized too. They said the taxi’s left every 15 – 20 minutes, but at 3:30pm they were way behind schedule. It was another confused mess, but we did make our 4:35 train. I’ll never go to Navy Pier on the weekend. The crowds were so much denser than in China at the World’s Fair.


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