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Yooper80

Lake Michigan Car Ferry - Delusional!

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One of big banner ads states: "Enjoy the pleasure of a cruise for a fraction of the price"

 

Really? You're serious?

 

Our RCCL 4 nighter to the Bahamas:

 

$223 per person for an outside cabin. This includes all our meals, and use of all the amenities onboard.

 

The SS Badger 8 hour round trip between the exotic ports of Manitowoc, WI and Ludington, MI:

 

$149 per person with stateroom. No meals or refreshments included. No pools, no rock climbing wall. Oh yeah, even on an 80 degree day it's going to feel about 60 on the deck.

 

 

Sounds to me like so few people choose the Badger these days that they have no choice but to charge these outrageous fares to squeeze out a profit. Don't even get me started on the ridiculous Lake Express out of Milwaukee. I'll still drive through Chicago on my way to see my parents thank you very much.

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I'm glad to take the ferry to avoid driving around Chicago! I used to live there and avoid the drive at all costs. It's worth it to take the ride, get off relaxed and refreshed, ready to drive to my next destination without having been stalled on some expressway somewhere.

Edited by uppitycats

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As one who worked on those ferries, operated by the Milwaukee Railroad, the Soo Line, and others over the years, I think they are a nice alternative to people who do not like the traffic snarls on the Dan Ryan expressway in Chicago, and want to have an unusual experience while making a cross country journey. The Badger is all that remains of this service that allowed you to criss-cross Lake Michigan from Milwaukee to Green Bay. I would hate to see that service disappear completely. I would like to maintain a choice for those who would like to do something unusual. Yes, it can be rough when a North wind blows a large beam sea down the lake, but that is a chance you take on any cruise. Yes, the price is probably not competative with foreign flag cruise lines, but you are on a U.S. crewed vessel and that is reflected in the cost of the operation. captainmcd.com

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I used to use the Badger qute often to go across Lake Michigan with my truck. It was cheaper to use it then to go down around through Chicago. They even gave my wife and I a free night on the Ship because they had to load my truck early.

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I took the Badger one time years back, Michigan to miwaukee. Then if you didn't take a cabin (8 hr ride) all there was, a small lounge,tiny snack counter and s pin ball bachine that had a sign play at your own risk. Boy that ball made some really strange moves. It still beat that drive thru or around Chucago. I-94 around Chicago,tri state wasn't completed yet.

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I sailed on the S. S. Badger in July of this year and enjoyed a nice mini-cruise between Ludington and Manitowoc and return. The sailing was smooth; the weather warm, but the nice breeze on deck was most welcome. There are plenty of places to sit on the ship, with the area at the stern being, perhaps, my favorite. A cafeteria, snack bar, a bar for alcoholic drinks, TV lounge, movie lounge, a couple of interior lounges with no entertainment, bingo games(at no cost to participate), gift shop, and very compact staterooms are available. In the "Quiet Lounge", there is an interesting display of memorabilia that should not be overlooked. The crew was most friendly; most of the ones working with the passengers are probably college students, I think. It was interesting to watch the loading and unloading of the vehicles, including large trucks.

 

The Badger is the last coal-fired steam ship operating in the United States and one can surely smell the burning coal. (The odor was not overpowering or unpleasant.) Great clouds of black smoke come out of the funnel when she is at dock. At the dock in Wisconsin, a large truck carrying coal backed onto the ship before new vehicles were loaded, and then left the ship, empty. Interesting!

 

There are signs posted that the water on the ship should not be drunk. Bottled water is available for sale and free water is available through the soft drink machine at the snack bar.

 

What food I ate aboard was good and the prices were quite reasonable, even at the Bar.

 

If you are between cruises and need a "fix", I would suggest you look into a cruise or crossing on the Badger.

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Badger is DEF not a "cruise", but a GREAT WAY to avoid Chicago, and a great way to "introduce" wee ones to ship travel.

 

The history of WHY there were (this is the last one) RR car ferries alone is worth the price of the cruise.

 

I love it, can't wait to "cruise " again....... WAY better than the ferry in Muskegon

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Badger is DEF not a "cruise", but a GREAT WAY to avoid Chicago, and a great way to "introduce" wee ones to ship travel.

 

The history of WHY there were (this is the last one) RR car ferries alone is worth the price of the cruise.

 

I love it, can't wait to "cruise " again....... WAY better than the ferry in Muskegon

 

I have been riding the Badger since I was a kid, back when there were still RR cars on it. So glad it is still around and that we have been able to take our children on it several times. Great 'shortcut' between Michigan and Wisconsin! Not always the most cost effective mode of transportation, but a great experience anyway!

 

As for Muskegon, we have never had the heart to spent a dime to try the Lake Express. The Badger is too special to us!

Edited by GoofyCrew

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While I enjoyed the Lake Michigan car ferry I would never compare it to a cruise... it is a ferry ride.

 

I think this hits the nail on the head. My first experience with larger passenger ships was the car ferries from England to the continent prior to the chunnel. We loved it as kids - it didn't matter if we had a day sailing and played in the kids zone the whole time or if we had an overnight and got to sleep on a cabin in the ship, we were thrilled. It was a similar time frame to the Badger, and it was a fantastic way to travel and of course meant we had our car to explore on the other side. Same in New Zealand from South to North Island, it was the best way to get across and I loved the trip.

 

I never counted those as a cruise, though. That's just a totally different experience. Would I pay the cost of the ferry so I didn't have to go around the lake? Sure I would, saves time and money and it's a fun way to travel. Would I call it a cruise? No. It's a ferry. A big one and a long journey, but a ferry nonetheless.

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On 5/9/2017 at 10:51 AM, Meamat said:

 

I think this hits the nail on the head. My first experience with larger passenger ships was the car ferries from England to the continent prior to the chunnel. We loved it as kids - it didn't matter if we had a day sailing and played in the kids zone the whole time or if we had an overnight and got to sleep on a cabin in the ship, we were thrilled. It was a similar time frame to the Badger, and it was a fantastic way to travel and of course meant we had our car to explore on the other side. Same in New Zealand from South to North Island, it was the best way to get across and I loved the trip.

 

I never counted those as a cruise, though. That's just a totally different experience. Would I pay the cost of the ferry so I didn't have to go around the lake? Sure I would, saves time and money and it's a fun way to travel. Would I call it a cruise? No. It's a ferry. A big one and a long journey, but a ferry nonetheless.

 

Many memories.

 

The Lake Michigan ferry (with car; can't remember the name of the ship) was my first "cruise" other than uncountable "cruises" on the Staten Island Ferry, which to a little child, was the highly anticipated near-end of the road trip to visit Grandma. 

This memory is especially appropriate on Thanksgiving Day :classic_smile:

 

The the Lake Michigan crossing.  We had just "received" our foreign exchange student, with less than a month to go before high school started.  We were startled at what little English she spoke, so my parents rented a cottage near the Michigan dunes, and we all practiced speaking as much as possible, while relaxing.

 

About a decade later came two short Miami-Bahamas holiday trips (cost more to get to Miami than the cruise did, I'm sure!), with 3 generations.

 

Next, about 3 years later, a round trip on the English Channel Ferry, when I was doing a postdoc in the UK.  Spent 3 weeks driving around France, one of my favorite trips still.

And a fun memory were the signs on the ferry that stated, "In case of emergency, follow arrows wearing life vests!" 

Never again did I hear of life vest attire! :classic_biggrin:

 

And then came the more luxurious cruises, and we feel like we are still warming up!

We leave in a few days for a major birthday celebration cruise!

 

Happy Thanksgiving, all!

 

GC

 

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