Big Ship, More Fun! Sail Across Lake Michigan on the S.S. Badger Carferry!


Badger Car ferry arrival in Manitowoc

The time has arrived for our Michigan vacation to begin!  We decided to take the S.S. Badger Carferry from Manitowoc to Ludington since we never had before and it looked like fun!  Since we were only sailing one-way, it cost us $201, including our two bikes.  There is a two-sided historical marker here, as the Badger is a national historic landmark too.

S.S. Badger Historic markerManitowoc and the Car Ferries Marker

We arrived early to see the ferry’s arrival from Ludington and put our vehicle in the loading zone. There was an air of excitement among the passengers while we waited to board, as many of us were sailing for the first time.

Badger Carferry docking in Manitowoc

Upon boarding, we got our picture taken by a ship wheel as a memento of our experience.

Badger Selfie 1 IMG_9266

After leaving  port, we set about exploring the passenger areas of the ship. See map and amenities here.  Our view from the port, or left side of the ship.  You can see the Wisconsin Maritime Museum and the Cobia sub from here. We even saw a tour going on there, like we did a few years ago.

View of Wisconsin Maritime Museum from Manitowoc

 Also, enjoy the video of our 4-hour journey across the lake. There is something for everyone here.

Lets explore the ship, there are many areas to see on board.  Upon boarding lunch was being served at the Upper Deck Café, lots of dining space just beyond the stairway in the Cabana Room. If you want to eat, be sure to get your food before 4 PM Michigan time as they have to get things put away before reaching port.

Upper Deck Cafe on Badger

Badger Upper Deck Cafe Menu

Cabana Room on Badger

Adjacent to a TV lounge is a rack of Michigan and Wisconsin publications to help you plan activities on the other side. Also the latest issue of Crossings, the official annual magazine of the S.S. Badger.

Publication Rack and ship amenity sign on Badger

 Just up ahead is the main lounge where a rousing game of Badger Bingo was taking place.  It’s free to participate and there are prizes.    We opted out to explore the ship instead.  We also met Issac, an expert juggler who also assisted with the bingo game. Great job Issac!

Issac the juggler on Badger

In the lounge the man is looking at a screen showing  where the Badger is located on Lake Michigan.  Other ship locations are visible too. Remember to change your watch after crossing the state line.

Badger Bingo


Ship locations on Lake Michigan

Here you can also get some food a la carte at the Badger Galley.

Badger Galley

The ship also has two bars where you can get a drink, this is the Port Side Bar in the galley dining room.

Port Side Bar on Badger

Topside near the bow (front) of the ship is a large sun deck plus plenty of room to sit on either side of the ship if you want to be outside. You can see the bridge (Pilot House) right above you here.


Bridge on Badger closeup

Inside the ship there is much more to see and do.

A video arcade for the game players.

Badger arcade

A movie theater, it was playing a kid’s movie at the time.

Badger movie theater

You can get a souvenir at the Badger Boatique, from apparel to knick knacks and toys.  You can order some items online too if you don’t get anything during the trip.

Badger Boatique apparrel

Explore the ship museum/quiet room to learn about the ferry and other great lakes history.

Badger Museum

After exploring the ship we went back out to the upper deck.  At 5:20 Ludington was becoming visible!  You can see sand dunes and a distant light station.  We could see another light house from here distantly, another passenger informed us it was the Big Sable Point Light in Ludington.  It is 8 miles from downtown.

520 PM Ludington

Big Sable Light Station in Ludington

At 6:17 PM we went by Ludington’s North Breakwater Light at Stearns Park. Plenty of people waved at us as went by.

North Breakwater LighthousePlenty of people at the opposite light station too warmly greeting the ship’s arrival.

Ludington Light station

People even waved from the yards of their homes, sitting in lawn chairs.

Ship Watchers in Ludington

The ship turned as it prepared to dock.  Most people were in the aft of the ship watching the process, it was fascinating!  We docked by 6:30.

Badger Docked in Ludington

The big trucks came out first, we saw one full of red apples! Another truck had green apples.

Apple Truck

Green apples in truck on Badger

At the same time, the Badger food supplies were being re-stocked by a truck from below, very creative!

ILoading supplies on Badger at Ludington

Badger Food supplies

We saw a two-sided historical marker at the ticket office.

Markers at Luding Port

It was time to go to Manistee where we were spending the night. We recommend this ride for anyone wishing to cross Lake Michigan.  It’s true, “Big Ship, More Fun!”™  Welcome to Michigan!

Thanks for sailing on the S.S.Badger

Welcome to Michigan sign

2 thoughts on “Big Ship, More Fun! Sail Across Lake Michigan on the S.S. Badger Carferry!

  1. Pingback: Michigan Light Houses | Adventures in Travel

  2. Pingback: 8 Hours in Chicago | Adventures in Travel

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