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Spirit of Boston unveiling new look

A $2.5 million renovation could help to make The Spirit of Boston a nightlife hot spot in the Seaport District. The ship’s second level  includes a  dance floor.
Harrison Hill for The Boston Globe
A $2.5 million renovation could help to make The Spirit of Boston a nightlife hot spot in the Seaport District. The ship’s second level includes a dance floor.

The Spirit of Boston cruise ship may conjure up memories of prom night for young professionals who grew up near the city. But after a $2.5 million renovation, the boat could soon become known for another kind of night out on the town.

Beginning this week, the Spirit will chart a new course on Friday nights, leaving behind the dinner cruises and special events for which it is known to become a floating bar where passengers can come and go as they please.

Starting at 3 p.m., the new-look vessel will alternate between an hour at its dock on Seaport Boulevard and an hour cruising the harbor. Guests will pay $18.95 for access to the boat all evening; drinks and food are sold separately.

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For example, a group of friends could meet for a drink after work at one of the Spirit’s four bar areas, disembark for dinner at one of the Seaport’s many restaurants, then return to the ship for dancing on the water.

From the outside, the 600-passenger Spirit appears unchanged, but the interior got a total makeover.
Harrison Hill for The Boston Globe
From the outside, the 600-passenger Spirit appears unchanged, but the interior got a total makeover.
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Dubbed Boathouse Fridays, the new option offers greater flexibility than the Spirit’s traditional dinner cruises, which last four hours and cost $97.90 per person on Saturday nights. It is a not-so-subtle overture to the neighborhood’s growing workforce of twenty- and thirty-somethings, who quickly gravitated to another outdoor hangout, the Lawn on D, when it opened last summer.

The Spirit will even let guests play corn hole — a Lawn on D staple — on the ship’s deck and feature a game area with such 1980s and ’90s childhood favorites as Jenga and Simon.

“We felt like we needed to compete at the same caliber as everyone else in the Seaport District,” said Kelley Yelle, general manager of Entertainment Cruises, the Spirit’s owner.

From the outside, the 600-passenger Spirit appears unchanged, but the interior got a total makeover. The bars, formerly nondescript drink-pickup stations, have expanded and are now focal points with handsome wood finishings, unique art pieces, and TV screens. The main deck features a crackle-glass dance floor. The walls are covered in mosaic tiles designed to hold up in a moving boat. More than 100 single-pane windows have been upgraded to double-pane to guard against fogging.

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After all, “one of the biggest things about being on a boat is you want to be able to see out the window,” Yelle said.

The Spirit of Boston docked in the Seaport District.
Harrison Hill for The Boston Globe
The Spirit of Boston docked in the Seaport District.

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