The S.S. Badger is the largest car ferry ever to sail Lake Michigan, and has provided a safe, fun, and reliable shortcut across the huge inland sea for more than 60 years. The steamship first entered service in 1953, designed specifically to handle the rough conditions that it would likely encounter during year ’round sailing on Lake Michigan. It was built primarily to transport railroad freight cars, but she also featured beautiful passenger accommodations and, because of this, was quite popular during the car ferries’ Golden Era in the late Fifties. Wisconsin ports of call at that time included Manitowoc, Milwaukee, and Kewaunee .
By the 1970’s, times had changed and there was little railroad freight business remaining. The S.S. Badger sailed less and less until, in 1991, an entrepreneur named Charles Conrad committed his own financial resources to reinvent the S.S. Badger to carry leisure passengers and their vehicles. Since then, the S.S. Badger has tapped in to the needs of the vacation traveler and delights a whole new generation of people. Vacationers can now experience the legend of the Great Lakes, along with a bit of history, while cruising on both sides of Lake Michigan. The S.S. Badger now sails daily between Manitowoc, Wisconsin and Ludington, Michigan from mid-May through mid-October.
The relaxing four-hour, 60-mile cruise takes passengers, autos, RVs, tour buses, motorcycles, bicycles, and commercial trucks across Lake Michigan between Ludington, Michigan and Manitowoc, Wisconsin. The steamship features many amenities, including: outside deck areas, deli-style snack bar, buffet-style dining area, private staterooms, upper deck lounge, aft end lounge, video arcade, children’s playroom, gift shop/ship’s store, free quiet room/museum, two free TV lounges, and a free movie lounge.
The boat has quite a large capacity as well! It holds as many as 600 passengers and 180 automobiles. There are 50-60 crewmembers on each trip. The S.S. Badger is a large ship that features 40 staterooms and sits over 7 stories high! Enthusiasts of the steamship era will be interested to note that the Badger features two Stockless anchors weighing 7,000 pounds each. The average speed is 18 miles per hour (15.6 knots). The S.S. Badger was built for year ’round conditions on Lake Michigan and sails in almost all types of weather encountered during her five-month season. ship offers spacious outside decks for walking or lounging with plenty of room to spread out and relax.
If you plan to travel with your four-legged friends, you will be happy to know that animals are allowed aboard. A limited number of kennels are available free of charge on a first-come, first served basis. Owners may also bring their own kennels. (If animals are left in a vehicle, windshield sunscreens are strongly recommended during warm weather.) Pets may be transported in the owner’s vehicle or kept in a well-ventilated portable kennel on the car deck.
The S.S. Badger is a national treasure, offering a cruise experience that links us to an earlier time when a sea voyage was the ultimate travel and vacation adventure. She offers an authentic steamship experience unmatched anywhere else. The Badger gives people who travel on her a rare opportunity to step back in time and make memories that will last a lifetime. This once-in-a-lifetime experience is located only an hour’s drive away from Hidden Serenity Bed and Breakfast. If you are traveling and including the S.S. Badger in your plans, our B&B is conveniently located to stay a day or two here and then set off sailing. Or possibly you are traveling in the other direction – sailing across the Lake on the S.S. Badger and need a comfy peaceful place to stay on the Wisconsin side. You will not regret taking the trip!