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“Absolutely amazing experience” 5 of 5 stars
Review of Shepler's Lighthouse Cruises

Shepler's Lighthouse Cruises
556 E. Central Avenue, Mackinaw City, MI
+1 231-436-5023
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Type: Ships, Lighthouses
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Attraction Details
Owner description: Sail the Straits of Mackinac! Sixteen historic lighthouses lie within easy cruising distance of Mackinaw City. Travel in comfort and safety on Shepler's spacious vessels during these fascinating tours. For close to three centuries, the Straits of Mackinac has been a vital nautical thoroughfare, providing passage between Lakes Huron and Michigan. But traveling its famed blue waters has not come without risk. Over the many decades, lighthouses were built to protect mariners from dangerous shoals and reefs. Each has a story to tell. Shepler's exclusive Lighthouse Cruises are voyages of discovery. Guests are treated to awe-inspiring views and the fascinating history surrounding these Great Lakes guardians.
Lansing, Michigan
13 reviews 13 reviews
6 attraction reviews
Reviews in 10 cities Reviews in 10 cities
6 helpful votes 6 helpful votes
“Absolutely amazing experience”
5 of 5 stars Reviewed September 12, 2011

We went on Shepler's westbound extended lighthouse cruise and had an amazing time. Most importantly, our tour guide was fantastic. Because the Great Lakes Lighthouse Keepers' Association helps put on the tours in collaboration with Shepler's, the information given about each of the six of lighthouses we saw on this tour was so much more than we expected. However, we also learned about the Mackinaw Bridge (as well as riding right underneath it) and many other things along the way. The tickers aren't cheap, but the cruise was 4 hours long, and included a delicious lunch (turkey sandwich, apple, chips, cookie, water bottle). We can't wait to do one of the other lighthouse cruises offered by Shepler's!

Visited September 2011
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42 reviews from our community

Visitor rating
Date | Rating
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English first
Lansing, MI
Senior Contributor
36 reviews 36 reviews
Reviews in 19 cities Reviews in 19 cities
25 helpful votes 25 helpful votes
“Incredible Opportunity”
5 of 5 stars Reviewed August 4, 2011

Shepler's offers an amazing opportunity to see, as up close as possible, some of the many, many lighthouses that are in the Great Lakes of Michigan. We were able to get very close to some lighthouses, fairly close to others and see these incredible structures. Our Captain and Naturalists on board provided so much information and while the Naturalists sometimes bordered on politicism, we still got a lot of out of cruise.
An added bonus? sailing under the Mackinac Bridge; getting a view of the massive infrastructure of this magnificent structure.
We thoroughly enjoyed it and would recommend it to everyone. I have to say also; Shepler's ships, properties, crew members..probably the best in the business...everything is clean, fresh, everyone helpful, friendly...great operation.

Visited July 2011
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This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
1 review
2 helpful votes 2 helpful votes
“Don't get sucked in”
1 of 5 stars Reviewed July 7, 2011 via mobile

The boat has more below deck seats than above..sit below and see nothing for 52.50.shelled boats don't even have built in restrooms!!!mickey mouse outfit..we suffered thru a 3plus hour ferry ride..seek.g nothing but bow spray..STAY. AWAY

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This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
SheplersFerry, Manager at Shepler's Lighthouse Cruises, responded to this review, March 19, 2012
Dear nrog1:

I am very sorry to hear that you did not enjoy your Lighthouse Cruise with us last July. At Shepler’s we work very hard to make sure that all of our guests have a great experience on our boats, whether they are taking a 16 minute ferry ride to Mackinac Island or one of our longer Lighthouse Cruises. We have very clean, comfortable boats and a spacious, custom-built restroom with running water and full amenities is put on board The Hope for every Lighthouse Cruise. It is much larger than your average Port-A-John.

It is true that we have limited seating on the upper deck and that the seats are not assigned so guests may select any seat they want once they are onboard. We board the cruises by boarding number and this is determined when you purchase your tickets so guests who buy first get to board first. I cannot predict where people will choose to sit so I can never say for sure when the upper deck seats will fill up, but it is true that on a clear sunny day those seats due tend to fill up before the lower-deck seats do. However, even if you were seated in the cabin during the cruise you were free to move about the vessel during the cruise and were welcome to go onto the aft deck or upstairs by the pilot house to take photos during the cruise. I am sorry if you felt you had to remain in your seats during the cruise, especially since we inform everyone about the seating policy before we board and the boarding process is described online and over the phone when people purchase their tickets so there should not be any confusion about how we board the vessel. The wind and sea conditions do play a role in whether or not spray hits the windows that are all along the cabin. If spray is hitting the windows when we are underway that will not be the case when we slow down and stop at each lighthouse and allow for great photo opportunities and informative narration about the lights.

You refer to us as a “Mickey Mouse” outfit and I understand that, for you, this has a negative connotation but here at Shepler’s we look to Disney as a role model for excellent guest service. We strive for first class service, every guest, every day and we truly appreciate our many fellow lighthouse enthusiasts who have taken our cruises over the years and who enjoy themselves so much that they return to take another cruise with us. Again, I am sorry that you, clearly, disagree with these statements and I wish that you would consider giving our Lighthouse Cruises a second chance to win you over but, regardless, we will take your criticism to heart and work harder to ensure that all of our guests understand the boarding process before they purchase a Lighthouse Cruise ticket.


Cindy Gezon
Groups & Cruise Coordinator
Shepler’s Mackinac Island Ferry
First Class Service. Every Guest. Every Day.
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This response is the subjective opinion of the management representative and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Top Contributor
126 reviews 126 reviews
43 attraction reviews
Reviews in 62 cities Reviews in 62 cities
69 helpful votes 69 helpful votes
“Great way to view reef lighthouses.”
5 of 5 stars Reviewed September 18, 2010

Loved the extended tour of lighthouses on northern Lake Huron. Weather canceled our extended tour out into Lake Michigan. We will try to view Lake Michigan next summer. Dress warm, it is cool out on the water for five hours.

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Lansing, Michigan
Top Contributor
424 reviews 424 reviews
194 attraction reviews
Reviews in 205 cities Reviews in 205 cities
689 helpful votes 689 helpful votes
“Lighthouse Nirvana”
5 of 5 stars Reviewed July 28, 2010

I am a big lighthouse fan and it has always been frustrating to me that some of the most famous lighthouses in Michigan can only be seen by boat and I don't own a boat. This is a great opportunity to see these lighthouses and even if you aren't in love with lighthouses, you may just like being out in beautiful Lake Michigan or Lake Huron.

These cruises are done by the same company (Shepler's) that run the ferry service to Mackinac Island. They use the same type of boats that contain an open upper deck (with seats) and an enclosed lower deck with windows that open. The open upper deck makes for great picture taking if you can stand the wind. The boat does cut the engines when you get close to the lighthouses, so you have an easier time admiring the lighthouses.

There are two lighthouse cruises offered on a fairly regular basis and some other special and longer lighthouse cruises that are mainly offered during the week (check website for the schedule).

We went on the the westbound cruise, which goes underneath the Mackinaw Bridge and visits the famous White Shoal lighthouse, with its famous candy cane striping. It also goes by another couple of lighthouses on the shoals and by St. Helena lsland for their lighthouse. The eastbound cruise goes into Lake Huron and passes a number of lighthouses as well.

The boarding is done in order of your ticket purchase and not in order of arrival at the dock. The earlier you buy your tickets, the earlier you board the boat and get a coveted upper deck seat. I like this way of boarding instead of having to arrive extremely early before the boat leaves to get a good seat.

The tickets are a tad expensive at $52.50 per person or $27.50 for children but this is for a three hour tour that also includes a knowledgeable guide. Our guide was Terry Pepper, who was informative and interesting.

Overall, we enjoyed the cruise so much we can't wait to do the Eastbound cruise next year!

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This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.

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