Wendella Tours and Cruises, forced to shut down about this time last year due to the coronavirus, starts its 87th season Friday — with a gradual reopening.
“We’ve operated through depressions, world wars, bus strikes and now a global pandemic,” said Andrew Sargis, a Wendella spokesman.
Wendalla has 10 boats, including five water taxis. To begin with, only one tour boat will operate, offering 45- and 90-minute architecture cruises, Sargis said.
“By the time we get to the Memorial Day weekend, we will have most of the the fleet — if not all of the fleet — in action, doing architecture tours, sunset tours, private events and Chicago Water Taxi service,” he said.
Sargis pointed out that, unlike the tour boats, not all of the water taxis have open-air upper decks.
Tour boats typically accommodate about 300 people, but now, due to the pandemic, capacity is limited to one-third of that, Sargis said.
He said he expected crowds about half that size on Friday.
“For opening day and weather in the 40s, that’s a great sign for us,” Sargis said. “These boats are a sure sign spring is here.”