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From Dishwasher to Captain, to Four Generations Later

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The SS BADGER has been a Legacy on the Lake Since 1953. Her Legacy includes a rich maritime presence on Lake Michigan but also includes a wonderful Legacy of those who have served aboard her. One of the many Legacies being that of Captain Bruce Masse, who served from 1955 to 2000. Masse started working for C&O and served on the SS CITY OF MIDLAND, SS SPARTAN and it all started on the SS BADGER as a dishwasher. He worked his ways up the ranks. After working in the Galley, he worked on the car deck, then became First Mate and eventually graduated to Captain. He sailed all over the Great Lakes, spending lots of time in Frankfort and Port Huron. But Ludington was his heart.

Because of the BADGER, Masse settled in Ludington with his wife to raise their six children. His daughter Rhonda has many fond memories of the BADGER from her childhood; including spending Christmas’s aboard the ship. “There were six of us; our mom would often load us in the car and meet Dad down at the dock between sails. But spending Christmas aboard was always so special and fun. We were all together. Wonderful memories with our dad and the BADGER,” Rhonda recalls. Years later as an adult, Rhonda worked onboard the BADGER in the housekeeping department. She loved meeting people and getting to sail on the Big Lake. Her sister, Deborah, also worked on the BADGER for a time as well as their cousin Lisa Jolly and nephew Shawn.

Rhonda and Lisa’s niece, Melissa, worked in Reservations for seven years. She also would sail as a young girl with her grandparents and had fond memories of bubblegum soda and chasing her sister up the steps. She loved working for the BADGER because it felt like family. She really enjoyed meeting customers and helping them plan their trips across the Lake and helping others create their memories and legacies.

Melissa’s son Garrett has now worked on the BADGER for three years in the Galley prepping and serving food for the crew. He also started working as a dishwasher and now is a cook. His favorite aspect of the job is making the crew’s day as most of the people he directly serves live on the ship. He loves learning about his family legacy and is proud of being the 4th Generation to work on the BADGER. He also states, “I’ve learned a lot of skills that I’m thankful for learning, especially in a fun and welcoming environment.”

The SS BADGER has been a Legacy on the Lake Since 1953 and her legacy continues. Let us help you create your family memories today! Plan your road trip, family reunion, group trip, work retreat, or more onboard the BADGER. Group discounts start with a group of 10 or more people. For more information please visit or call (800) 841-4243.

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