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10 Reasons Why to Sail on the Badger

Badger 5-21-22 logo SpeedShot Photography

Sailing on the BADGER is a unique experience that you won’t find just anywhere else! Here are a few reasons to consider why to sail on the BADGER.

1) Experience a Moving National Landmark

In 2016, the Badger was named a National Historic Landmark, the country’s highest historic honor. There are about 2,600 National Historic Landmarks in the United States, but most are buildings or geographic districts. The Badger is extra special because she is only the second mobile National Historic Landmark—the first being the San Francisco cable cars.

2) Nostalgia

When you step onboard the Badger, it’s like taking a step back in time. The charm of the ship, the sound of the engines, the smell of the coal smoke – there is nothing else like it. There are quite a few passengers who bring their children and grandchildren onboard because they sailed years ago with their own elders. Returning passengers are just as delighted by all the familiar details of the historic ship as they are by the fresh updates.

3) Start Your Own Family Tradition

Passengers of all ages are delighted by their ride across the lake on the big ship. Whether your ride is the first leg of a long family road trip, or a quick summer weekend escape, you will make memories your family will never forget. Soon they will beg to return year after year. And who knows, maybe they’ll bring their own grandkids when we celebrate our 140th anniversary in 2093!

4) Great States and Cities to Visit

The Badger connects the fabulous cities of Ludington, Michigan, and Manitowoc, Wisconsin. Both destinations are great for exploring, to learn more about fun things to do in these charming small cities on the big lake. Whether you have a few hours or a week, you’ll find plenty to delight everyone in your family on both sides of Lake Michigan.

5) Continuation of US Hwy 10 & an Official Marine Highway

In 2015, the Badger was named a Designated Continuation of US HWY 10. Spanning from Bay City, Michigan to Fargo, North Dakota US HWY 10 is 565 miles long and covers four states. The Badger is only one of two ferry systems that connect highways in the United States. The Badger doesn’t just carry people, she also carries vehicles of all shapes and sizes. In 2022 the Badger was also designated as an official federal Marine Highway project, acknowledging a ride across the lake on the ship allows not only tourists, but also freight trucks and other vehicles, to avoid the congested highways around Chicago, while also saving both fuel and wear and tear on roadways.

6) Amenities Galore

The trip across the lake is four hours long, and with so much to enjoy, it might be the fastest four hours of your life! Enjoy a meal or a cocktail, browse for souvenirs in the museum gift shop, take in a film in our free movie theater, or rent a private stateroom for a relaxing rest. There are also fun kid’s activities, and plenty of indoor and outdoor seating with gorgeous water views.

The most sought-after onboard activity is World Famous Badger Bingo! Free to play with great prizes, it’s the best game on the Great Lakes. If you haven’t played Badger Bingo before, you have no idea what you are missing!

7) Experience Lake Michigan in A Whole New Way

The Great Lakes are the crown jewel of the Midwest, but most visitors only see them from the beach. When you sail on the Badger, you lose sight of land after the first 30 minutes of your voyage and won’t catch a glimpse again until you are about 30 minutes from your destination port.

During most of your journey, it will be water as far as the eye can see, giving you an experiential understanding of why Lake Michigan is often called an Inland Sea. Add in fresh air, sunshine, and a slight breeze, and the Badger is the best place to be in the summertime. Many passengers claim that sitting on the deck and soaking in Lake Michigan in all her glory is a spiritual experience.

8) Get Unplugged

The lake is big, and your journey across is just over 60 miles long. And you may be surprised to discover that your cell phone will stop working only a few miles from shore, because there are no cell towers in the middle of the lake! This provides a unique opportunity to set down your devices, relax, escape the hustle and bustle of modern life, and pretend you’re riding the ship in the “olden days”. However! We do offer Wi-Fi for purchase on board for those who prefer to remain in 2023. Codes can be obtained for a nominal fee in the Cruise Director’s Office.

9) Last & Largest of Her Kind

The Badger is the last coal-fired passenger steamship in operation in the United States – you literally won’t find anything else like her, and she’s the largest one ever built. One reason that she is a National Historic Landmark today is that no other ship in operation today has Skinner Unaflow four-cylinder steam engines. She was originally designed to carry railroad cars across Lake Michigan, and she is the only cross-lake car ferry in operation today that can carry oversized loads like semi-trucks, motorcoaches, farm equipment and so much more!

10) She’s a Local Lady! Designed and Built for the Great Lakes

The Badger gets her name from the University of Wisconsin Mascot, the Badgers! She was built in Sturgeon Bay, Wisconsin, and designed specifically to carry railroad cars across Lake Michigan for year-round service. This means she’s just as hearty as any native Midwesterner! Her hull is specifically designed and reinforced to be able to break ice. This means she’ll withstand almost any weather that Lake Michigan might brew up. Passengers often comment on smooth sailings. This is because she was built specifically for Lake Michigan, and her skilled crew is proud to take good care of her.

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