Manitowoc shipbuilder rolls out Chicago tour boat

Burger Boat Company delivers the tour boat Chicago's Classic Lady
Burger Boat Company delivers the tour boat Chicago's Classic Lady

MANITOWOC - A luxury tour boat built in Manitowoc is headed for Chicago.

Chicago's Classic Lady rolled out to the Burger Boat Company dock Monday morning.

With the swing of the bottle, company president Holly Agra christened the ship earlier.

The 98-foot-long, 157-ton ship can carry 299 people.

"It is a passenger vessel. It's a commercial vessel. But it still has a classic feel from the 1920s, 1930s," said Ron Cleveringa, Burger Boat Company Vice President of Sales and Marketing.

"There's lot of brass, mahogany and earth tones. It looks old, but it's brand new," said Bob Agra, Chicago's First Lady Cruises Vice President and Chief Financial Officer.

Neither company would say how much the boat costs.

Cleveringa says Burger employs about 80 people. He says 50 of those workers were hired to help finish the tour boat project.

"Every order is important to us. It keeps people working. It brings very good quality jobs to the Manitowoc area," said Cleveringa.

The Classic Lady is the second ship Burger delivered to Chicago's First Lady Cruises tour boat company.

"Their main forte is luxury yachts, and we knew that when we wanted to build a tour boat, and Burger was able to secure the contract, we knew that all the craftsmen, even thoughthey  were told it would be a tour boat, they didn't have to be quite so particular. It's in their blood, so the workmanship on this boat is phenomenal," said Agra.

"It's always very exciting to launch a new boat. People come into the shipyards to see what we do, get to share the excitement of the hard work and labor of all the people who put a lot of time and effort into this vessel," said Cleveringa.

Crews will continue to work on Chicago's Classic Lady for another couple of weeks. Burger officials say workers will then transfer to other projects at the shipyard.

Chicago's Classic Lady is set to give its first tour Memorial Day Weekend.

This is the fifth ship in the fleet for the tour boat company.