Riding the SS Badger

This entry is part [part not set] of 4 in the series SS Badger


Riding the SS Badger

So what is it like to ride the SS Badger? Let us share our experience from this summer when we took the SS Badger across Lake Michigan both ways while on a long road trip.


First of all, this is not just a car ferry, this is a ship. A historical ship as well. The SS Badger is on the National Register of Historic Places. This authentic steamship still burns coal for propulsion. At over 410 ft in length the SS Badger can carry up to 600 passengers and 180 vehicles from cars to oversized semi trailors. When you board the ship, the first thing you notice is how big it is. You don’t drive your own vehicle onboard, that is done for you. (unless you are on a motorcycle). All passengers walk into the rear of the ship and up the stairs to the main decks. Walking into the rear of the ship and seeing Semis and RVs parked in the ship make you realize just how big the SS Badger is.


See the rails in the floor? They used to haul railroad cars across the lake. This is just one side of the ship.

Video from the middle of Lake Michigan:

There are some things about the ship that will remind you of a cruise ship. In many ways parts of the ship are the same as they were when it was built in 1952. Of course there is WIFI, movies and TV’s now. If you need some privacy there are several staterooms that you can rent as well. Spartan comes to mind when describing them but they are comfortable. We had a stateroom both ways and really appreciated the opportunity to lay down and rest as we were travelling by motorcycle.

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There is a deli just aft of the main lounge that serves snacks and basic food. If you go upstairs there is a more complete buffet for hardier appetites.

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Check out these panoramas taken in Manitowoc, WI and Ludington, MI.

I think the most lasting impression I got from riding the SS Badger is that you could always find a place to sit where you had some personal space.  It could be in a quiet lounge or on a lounge chair on the open deck, It felt like there was room for everyone. In our travels we have been a few car ferries around the country and the seating on those reminded me of being on a jumbo jet packed in tight rows. The trip across Lake Michigan is about 4 hours, so it was nice to be able to get up and walk around freely. You arrive at the destination relaxed and ready to continue your journey.

The SS Badger has a little something for everyone and pretty much all ages. You have to try the bingo, really, it was fun and the staff running the bingo do a great job. If you have gamers there is an arcade and for the little ones there is a room full of age appropriate things to do.

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I was concerned about how long it would take to get off the ship once arrived at our destination. No worries the staff in both ports is very efficient at off loading the cars and trucks. They obviously have been doing this a long time and do this well.

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Ready to book a crossing on the SS Badger? Click HERE for more info.

Want to know more about the ship? Click HERE.

Thinking about a stay in Ludington, Michigan? Click HERE.

How about a stay in Manitowoc, Wisconsin? Click HERE.


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About Dan Ashbach 792 Articles
Meet the Dan behind Dan330. He started a Pinterest account in December 2011 while off on a leave from his day job as a captain on an Airbus A330. While traveling the world, Dan practiced his longtime hobby of photography and developed his eye for natural beauty and appreciation of great photography. Continuing his love of exploration and great pictures, Dan added Pinterest to his daily routine; especially during the long Minnesota winters. His eye for great photography was recognized by the Pinterest community and in just under one year, Dan330 had attracted over one million followers. Dan and his wife Laurie have three children, seven grandchildren and two grand puppies. When not pinning, Dan loves to travel and participate in just about any outdoor activity. There are a few exceptions to this, but to find out what they are you have to go to the Dan330 board dedicated to “Things he won’t do”.