Is there such a thing as passenger ferry service from Chicago?
May 18, 2006 11:00 AM   Subscribe

Does anyone know of a passenger ferry service which leaves from Chicago and goes on Lake Michigan to ANYWHERE? I'm looking to get away for a weekend to somewhere in maybe Wisconsin or Michigan (think Door County or Mackinac Island) and would like to not have to drive much, if possible. I thought it would be fun to take a boat ride to my destination starting from the lake in Chicago, but so far have not found anything online. Chicagoans, let me in on your secrets!
posted by achmorrison to Sports, Hobbies, & Recreation (10 answers total)
I looked into this last year. There is no ferry that leaves from Chicago. I have no idea why -- this makes no sense. There are at least a couple of ferries that leave from eastern Wisconsin and go across to Michigan. One is the SS Badger, natch. Another goes between Milwaukee and Muskegon, MI.
posted by Mid at 11:18 AM on May 18, 2006

I can't find any links about them, but a couple of companies have proposed new ferries stopping in Chicago over the past several years, and at least one of them was shut down before starting service due to alleged financial fraud. As recently as 2003, the Port of Milwaukee was still thinking about trying to convince a company to offer this service.

But bear in mind that the whole reason most people take these ferries in the first place is to avoid Chicago traffic between Wisconsin and Michigan/Indiana. The demand for service to and from Chicago is generally considered to be much lower.
posted by j-dawg at 11:29 AM on May 18, 2006

j-dawg, thank you for for explaining that. It was something I always wondered about ("Why in the hell would a city of 8 million not have a way to get away for the weekends to Michigan?!!").
posted by zpousman at 1:26 PM on May 18, 2006

I looked into SS Badger once, and noticed that it takes like 3 hours to get across, which is the same time it takes to drive to Michigan from Chicago. So depending on destination, it may not save time over driving at all.
posted by goethean at 1:39 PM on May 18, 2006

oh...make that 2 hours...forgot about the time change.
posted by goethean at 1:40 PM on May 18, 2006

Zpousman: We live in Chicago. Why would we ever need to leave? :)
posted by j-dawg at 1:53 PM on May 18, 2006

goethean, the SS Badger is old school. Look into the Lake Express ferry now. But yeah, if you are going from Chicago, it wouldn't make sense.
posted by JJ86 at 2:32 PM on May 18, 2006

Response by poster: (I'm glad I'm not the only one who has looked into this idea.)

Interesting reasonings why there are no options. I guess my thought was that part of escaping the traffic was being able to enjoy the time I would be spending going on the trip. Not that I would save any time, but at least I could relax en route. I even tried searching for boats to charter for a one-way trip. I'm sure I wouldn't want to pay what they'd ask, though.

My other thought was taking a train out of the city, but the amtrak routes didn't look particularly appealing to me.
posted by achmorrison at 3:45 PM on May 18, 2006

Well, you could take Amtrak to Milwaukee and then take the Lake Express Ferry. I've taken Amtrak to Milwaukee to use the airport there if I can get a ridiculously cheap flight out of there versus O'Hare/Midway.

I don't know about charters, but there may be sailboats who would take a paid passenger one way. You never know. Check Chicago or Columbia Yacht Clubs. We sail our boat out of Monroe Harbor but we stick to day trips these days.
posted by jeanmari at 8:57 PM on May 18, 2006

There are cruise ships on Lake Michigan, such as this one that goes up one side to Mackinac Is.and back down the other back to Chicago. But it takes longer than a weekend.
posted by richg at 10:30 PM on May 18, 2006

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