S.S. Badger: Lake Michigan Carferry

S.S. Badger: Lake Michigan Carferry

S.S. Badger: Lake Michigan Carferry
4.5
12:00 AM - 11:59 PM
Monday
12:00 AM - 11:59 PM
Tuesday
12:00 AM - 11:59 PM
Wednesday
12:00 AM - 11:59 PM
Thursday
12:00 AM - 11:59 PM
Friday
12:00 AM - 11:59 PM
Saturday
12:00 AM - 11:59 PM
Sunday
12:00 AM - 11:59 PM
About
The S.S. Badger is the largest car ferry to ever sail Lake Michigan and has provided a safe, fun, and reliable shortcut across the inland sea for 67 years. The ferry takes passengers, autos, RVs, tour buses, motorcycles, bicycles, and commercial trucks across Lake Michigan between Ludington, Michigan and Manitowoc, Wisconsin from mid-May through mid-October.
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  • salsuesha
    Galloway, Ohio3 contributions
    5.0 of 5 bubbles
    Badger
    Always awesome to see the Bader come in to port. We had drinks and appetizers on the deck at the Timbers and watched the Badger come into town. Both my young grandchildren and my teenage grandson enjoyed seeing the Badger.
    Visited July 2023
    Traveled with family
    Written July 6, 2023
  • doglover253
    73 contributions
    5.0 of 5 bubbles
    Fun in the sun
    We took 9 am departure cruise. Weather was great..bring and use sunscreen. 2023 is 70th anniversary of operation. Lots to do on 4 hour ride including games, bingo, movies, and lounging topside like a lazy lizard in the sun. Food was typical fast/park food but it filled the need as you can't bring outside food. You can bring your own water bottles. Alcohol available for purchase. Pet friendly can leave in vehicle or kennel on board. Will do again.
    Visited July 2023
    Traveled as a couple
    Written July 10, 2023
  • Pat R
    31 contributions
    4.0 of 5 bubbles
    Big boat one fear down!!
    Wasn't so sure of this. Husband booked it knowing I don't like water and it being an 4 hour long ferry across Lake Michigan. But it was not that bad thanks to Badger Bingo that they play on ride it kept my mind off of the fact I was on a boat on water. They had so much more things to do and see movies, rooms for kids to play, a restaurant to eat, and a bar to drink. And lots of entertainment. Ride was just a bit bumpy on the way over to Wisconsin but on the way back it was a lot better.
    Visited July 2023
    Traveled as a couple
    Written July 18, 2023
These reviews are the subjective opinion of Tripadvisor members and not of TripAdvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews.

Most Recent: Reviews ordered by most recent publish date in descending order.

Detailed Reviews: Reviews ordered by recency and descriptiveness of user-identified themes such as wait time, length of visit, general tips, and location information.

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4.5
4.5 of 5 bubbles1,133 reviews
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722
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61
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Fred Garvin
Plymouth, MA33 contributions
3.0 of 5 bubbles
Jul 2020
Took from MI to WI July 2020. Nice sunny day, calm seas, no movement or sea sickness at all. Boarding was smooth. They recommend getting there an hour early (8am for a 9am launch), I would not recommend this at all. First on is last off! We got to the boat about 8:15am, and it was 30min after landing before our car came off. After a 4 hour tour this wait was painful. Had an amazing cinnamon roll from the food area. My 13 and 11 year old boys said the Xbox system was not very good, and only one of the two was working. For me, I paid $5 for the wifi is this was a wasted 5 bucks. It was worse than any plane wifi I've used, to the point I couldn't even do work emails much less a video-less zoom I had planned on. So don't plan on using wifi. Individual quarters was very nice to have.
Written August 15, 2020
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews as part of our industry-leading trust & safety standards. Read our transparency report to learn more.

Myles P
3 contributions
1.0 of 5 bubbles
Jul 2021
The staff on SS Badger were really nice and friendly. The trip itself was fairly smooth with no complaints - it was really nice to not have to drive as far as we would've.

However there was some noticeable scratches on the driver side door. By the time we noticed, it was 48 hours after we got home from the ship. When we reached out to be report the incident, we told them that we had a great time on the ship, but unforatuntely there was some damage we didn't notice at the dock. Their response was that the damage was "inconsistent with damage typically reported on the ship."

When we escalated to a supervisor, we were told: "Since your claim was made after the vehicle left our property we have no means of determining the cause or accountability for the damage and must decline to accept responsibility for it."

When you get your car from the ferry, it's extremely chaotic as everyone is racing to get their cars out from the parking lot. We felt rushed to get out of there and didn't think we'd need to check for damage. In addition, they are claiming that they know all possible damage that could have happened on the ship and that what we reported couldn't have happened because it's inconsistent with other damage. This makes little to no sense to me.

We were not looking for thousands of dollars, just a few hundred to help cover the repair to the paint. The whole situation isn't the end of the world, but it's certainly frustrating and a waste of time on both our side and SS Badger.

I wouldn't recommend this service moving forward as there as other ferries providing service across Lake Michigan.
Written September 7, 2021
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews as part of our industry-leading trust & safety standards. Read our transparency report to learn more.

Patrick S
Hinsdale, IL16 contributions
3.0 of 5 bubbles
Aug 2020
This is a classic Steam Ship maybe one of the last in America. It's really a must do, they have a tV room, movie room, not much on the way of food compared to other ferry's I've travelled on but pack your own shore lunch, breakfast. My disappointment is in the safety aspect of the vessel. We go a greeting from one of the officers, but no Safety Briefing, I toured the upper deck to see if there were life saving equipment. Yes many boats and slid rafts, I did not see a life vest containers, tho. Also loading and unloading both foot traffic and cars was terrible. I don't know why one can not drive their car on and off, motor cycles did. Instead they have young folks running like crazy (6-7) of them for all the cars. We arrived early and were one of the last off, about a 40 minute wait and there were really not than many cars on board, but short staff Maybe??? After nearly 5 hours for a 4 hour trip plus the hour wait loading it's really a 6 hour thing, you could almost drive around the northern lake in that time, really!! But it's now off our bucket list!!! If you have not made the trip please, do; our day was lovely--breezy, flat calm sea 70's. Ahoy
Written August 13, 2020
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews as part of our industry-leading trust & safety standards. Read our transparency report to learn more.

Tommy599
Two Rivers, WI861 contributions
4.0 of 5 bubbles
Sep 2021
1 Sept - 2:20 PM leaving Manitowoc sailing East to Ludington on a nice sunny calm sea’s day with no wind.

This was my third crossing using the Badger and it turned into a truly a nice trip. Sure there is always a chance of inclement weather keeping you inside, but most of the sailing days, a crossing of 66 miles of water is usually within nice weather (we understand), as the ship only sails between May to October.
The ship has a capacity of 620 passengers but today there were only 144 on board (Not a lot of cars / camper / trucks on board down on the car deck).
You drive up to the loading dock, they ask you to make sure you leave any weapons or alcohol inside the vehicle.

You leave your keys in the vehicle and crew members drive your car on board with us rubbernecking around the decks and finding a VERY NICE place to sit outside on the boat deck starboard side aft. There was NO need for jackets on this trip as we reallllllly enjoyed the crossing within 75 F degree temps and us sitting in the sun. The only breeze presented was by the forward motion of the ship.

If you REALLLLLLLY want to sleep the ship has about 50 cabins on board for the 4 hour sail
.
The movie on board was Sponge Bob thus of not too much interest to anyone

There is an interesting museum on board which depicts the history of the 410 ft long / 59 ft. wide Badger and how the 4,000 HP steam recuperating engines work.
Ship burns coal (uses 50 tons for each round-trip crossing). The clinkers (ash) are taken off in Ludington Mi. for use in making cinder building blocks. The ship (built in 1952) has two 13 ft propellers. Each shaft (95 ft. long) has a 4-cylinder steam engine attached with boilers that supply 500# steam pressure, and if pushed the ship; she has been known to travel at 20 MPH (normally standard speed is 18 MPH).

As we reached the midpoint of the lake (around 33 miles) the Wisconsin shoreline (from our elevation at about 30 ft above the water) disappeared, and the Michigan shoreline started to appear.

The crew drives your vehicle off the ship into a parking lot and as you leave the ship in Ludington = you find your car and drive off.

Note You lose one hour going East from Wisconsin CST to Michigan EST.
Written October 7, 2021
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews as part of our industry-leading trust & safety standards. Read our transparency report to learn more.
Thank you for sailing with us! We are glad you enjoyed your trip.
Written October 14, 2021
This response is the subjective opinion of the management representative and not of Tripadvisor LLC.

merc122548
Woodhaven, MI6 contributions
5.0 of 5 bubbles
Aug 2020
This is an experience that everyone should enjoy at least once. This cruise is probably the last thing around that harkens back to the glory days of ocean going liners, all for a nice nominal price. Its a four hour cruise (one way) and, I think, many people use it to bypass Chicago traffic on their way to their destinations. You get the "feel" of a big ship ... heck, it even LOOKS like one, yet it is a bonafide ferry that can hold up to 185 vehicles and a few hundred passengers! And the vehicles are just cars and SUVs. Uh uh ...

One of the things that you'll want to do is get to the dock early and get a good spot on the top deck. That way you'll get to see who really uses the Badger. Busses, big trucks, tankers, you name it, the ship carries them all. Little things like this make for the "experience".

A nice selection of food is served in their galley and they have "games" (read bingo) that can keep you busy should you not care to sit out on deck.

It's tough to describe everything good about sailing on the Badger, you just have to do it for yourself. Here's to an experience I'm sure you will enjoy!
Written August 25, 2020
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews as part of our industry-leading trust & safety standards. Read our transparency report to learn more.

Jeffrey E
Milwaukee, WI34 contributions
3.0 of 5 bubbles
Sep 2020 • Couples
Boarding was easy - the crew was friendly and helpful. The ship is just ok - not really enough good comfortable passenger space. The best seats have TVs going and it’s distracting if you want to read or doze.

The biggest problem is the passengers who seem to think that the pandemic is over. About 60% were masked up but 40% either had them around their necks or not wearing them at all (and they were mostly older and the most susceptible). One older guy refused to wear it even as he wandered around and back into the cafe. We had to move three times to get out of smallish rooms with too many unasked people. If it was an hour trip, I wouldn’t mind but four hours is plenty of time for exposure.

Seriously people - turn off Fox News and let’s get through this. It’s a shame because this was our first trip on the Badger and but for too many inconsiderate people, we’d take it again and save some driving time.
Written September 18, 2020
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews as part of our industry-leading trust & safety standards. Read our transparency report to learn more.

brunoyipes
Grandville, MI14 contributions
5.0 of 5 bubbles
Mar 2019
In the middle of Lake Michigan we could just make out the tree line of Michigan and Wisconsin as we sat at he mid midsection of the SS Badger. They have all matter of food available ar reasonable prices and if the weather gets bad all passengers would fit inside their many rooms..
It was a few years back but I would do it again any time when it's warm.
Written February 29, 2020
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews as part of our industry-leading trust & safety standards. Read our transparency report to learn more.
Thank you for the feedback, we appreciate it! We hope you can sail again with us soon!
Written March 6, 2020
This response is the subjective opinion of the management representative and not of Tripadvisor LLC.

Dr. Tim
Marana, AZ5,113 contributions
5.0 of 5 bubbles
Jun 2021 • Couples
In the 50s we’d travel in our Rambler from California to Goetzville, Michigan which is in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan. To save us the drive around Lake Michigan we’d take the ferry out of Milwaukee, WI. Today the ferry runs from Manitowoc, WI, but still arrives in Ludington, Michigan. The last time I did it was 1980 so it was a real treat to do it yesterday. We left Manitowoc, WI right on time at 2pm CST and arrived on time in Ludington, MI at 7pm EST. The crew drives the cars on and off the ship so as luck would have it we were one of the last cars off. By the time we waited for our car it was almost 8:30 pm so you’ll want to take that into consideration if you’re in a rush. We drove to Traverse City once we got the car so didn’t arrive until almost 10pm. Luckily it was mid June so it was light out until almost 10pm. The crew on the ship is super friendly and the weather was perfect with Lake Michigan being smooth as silk! The weather was 80 degrees so an absolutely perfect crossing. We got a state room which was quite warm, but my wife enjoyed it since she could lay down and read. The food and drinks at the snack bar was also very nice and the ham sandwich was really great and beyond my expectation. Everything considered the Badger Ferry experience was perfect as always. Highly recommend!
Written June 11, 2021
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews as part of our industry-leading trust & safety standards. Read our transparency report to learn more.
We are glad that you could join us again! Thank you for sailing with us, we are glad that you enjoyed your trip.
Written August 19, 2021
This response is the subjective opinion of the management representative and not of Tripadvisor LLC.

kansasrod
OSKALOOSA1,591 contributions
5.0 of 5 bubbles
Jul 2021
Go immediately to the Main Lounge to get a table next to the window. Majority of people first look around on deck and eventually all the tables are full. It was a warm July day and being able to open the window next to our table was a godsend. There are options for kids, too, including kid-appropriate movies. School age children will also enjoy the bingo game which includes prizes they can choose. About 30 minutes from shore they will announce all hot items are $1. This includes hot dogs and pizza slices. Pleasantly surprised by prices: $3 for nice slice of pepperoni or cheese pizza; $2.75 for drink cup which can be refilled as often as you like. Saves huge time and avoids Chicago traffic if it is in your travel direction.
Written July 4, 2021
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews as part of our industry-leading trust & safety standards. Read our transparency report to learn more.
Thank you for sailing with us, we are glad that you enjoyed the trip. We hope you can sail again soon!
Written August 19, 2021
This response is the subjective opinion of the management representative and not of Tripadvisor LLC.

FlyBaker90
White Bear Lake, MN1 contribution
5.0 of 5 bubbles
Jul 2022
The S.S. Badger; Lake Michigan Carferry has been a part of our family history for almost 3 decades! In 1990, my mother lived just 3 houses from the marina in Ludington, MI where the SS Badger docks, making it quite impossible to not know about the Carferry when it sounded its horn entering and leaving the harbor twice each day all summer.

In 1994, when my husband and I accepted a job transfer to Appleton, WI, my Mom was distraught about the distance, however, Mom soon figured out that we lived just 40 minutes from Manitowoc and she mapped out a plan!

For a number of years, at the beginning of each summer, we would take our old Buick to Ludington on the first sailing and leave it at Mom's place. Then, most weekends, my husband and I, and our baby would take the midnight boat from Manitowoc to Ludington on Friday nights. When we arrived at sunrise, we just put our little one in the stroller and walked the 3 blocks to my Mom's house where breakfast would be waiting.

When I went into labor with baby #2, I called my Mom, then the Badger ticket office, and they waited the few extra minutes she needed. She ran down the street, pushing Great Grandma in the wheelchair. As soon as she came into view, a Badger attendant ran to meet her and help with the wheelchair and luggage. Then they gently got both Grandma's boarded, knowing exactly what all the hoopla was about.

Over the decades, we have had surprise birthday banners on the railings of the Badger, my younger brother was: Little Master Carferry one year, and we have all brought many friends over to Ludington to enjoy the lovely town.

My Mom's place is now the Family Vacation Home and 3 children, 7 grown grandchildren, and all of their spouses really enjoy the relaxation and fun that can be had in and around Ludington. But for MY family, it will always be about the SS Badger!
Written July 18, 2022
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews as part of our industry-leading trust & safety standards. Read our transparency report to learn more.

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S.S. Badger: Lake Michigan Carferry - All You Need to Know BEFORE You Go (2024)

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