MANITOWOC – For seven decades, the mighty S.S. Badger Lake Michigan Car Ferry has carried thousands of passengers and cargo varying from train cars to Oscar the llama.
The car ferry will make its maiden voyage for 2023 from Ludington, Michigan, to Manitowoc, kicking off its 70th anniversary sailing season on May 18.
As folks get ready to head to the lakeshore and wave to the historic vessel, here are five things to keep in mind.
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1. The season’s welcome celebration is set for around noon May 18.
A season kickoff celebration is set for around noon May 18 at 900 S. Lakeview Drive, Manitowoc, and is free and open to the public.
After the Badger docks, speakers, including Manitowoc Mayor Justin Nickels, will speak and present a governor’s commendation for the ship.
2. The sailing season will run until October.
The S.S. Badger operates from May 18 to Oct. 9.
In addition to daily trips between Ludington and Manitowoc, there are three Manitowoc shoreline cruises planned for June 17, July 22 and Aug. 12 in the afternoon.
She can carry up to 600 passengers and 180 vehicles.
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3. It takes about four hours to cross Lake Michigan on the Badger.
The ship makes one four-hour crossing in both directions across Lake Michigan every day.
It departs from Ludington at 9 a.m. Eastern (which Michigan uses) and arrives at noon Central in Manitowoc.
The Badger leaves Manitowoc at around 2 p.m. Central and arrives in Ludington at 7 p.m. Eastern.
Ticket prices vary, so visit https://www.ssbadger.com/schedule/ to make reservations.
4. The Badger is the last coal-fired passenger steamship still in operation.
The S.S. Badger is the last coal-fired passenger steamship in operation in the United States and the largest in the world, although officials from Lake Michigan Carferry Inc. said last year they plan to transition her from coal when an alternate fuel system is chosen.
5. There’s plenty to do on the Badger.
There are no assigned seats on the S.S. Badger. Instead, passengers are encouraged to wander the ship, to nibble at a buffet breakfast or lunch, or enjoy a cocktail at the bar.
You can wander most areas of the boat, from multiple viewing decks to a gift shop, children’s play room, and TV and movie-viewing areas.
There’s even a friendly cruise director to answer questions or offer suggestions of fun things to do, and a large commons space filled with tables where guests can play a popular game of Badger Bingo or listen to live music.
You can bring water and non-alcoholic drinks on board. You are not allowed to bring food or alcoholic beverages.
Contact reporter Patti Zarling at email@example.com or call 920-606-2586. Follow her on Twitter @PGPattiZarling.
This article originally appeared on Manitowoc Herald Times Reporter: SS Badger Lake Michigan Car Ferry to begin 2023 season to Manitowoc