Posted by: Kath Usitalo | November 30, 2011

Ahoy There! Great Lakes Christmas Gift Ideas

Give a raffle ticket for a chance to cruise the Great Lakes on the freighter Algoma Spirit (photo by Paul Beesley,

Second in a series of ideas for Great Lakes Christmas Gifts

Is there a Great Lakes lover on your Christmas list? Consider a gift of the Sweetwater Seas.

If money is no object there’s the option of a voyage with the Great Lakes Cruise Company. Itineraries are all over the map and range from 3 to 15 nights, from late spring through fall color season on 4 different ships. The 12-Day Great Lakes Grand Discovery tour includes lakes Huron, Michigan and Superior aboard the 138-passenger Yorktown; depending on cabin selection prices range from $4,995 to $8,695.

Too pricey? I can relate.

A $5 (Canadian) raffle ticket for a chance to win a trip aboard a Great Lakes freighter is a nice stocking stuffer. Top prize is a 7 to 10 day trip for 2 adults aboard the 728-foot bulk carrier Algoma Spirit, which sails under the Canadian flag.

This isn’t a vacation cruise, but a rare opportunity to experience life on a working freighter; guests must be able to meet physical demands such as negotiating stairways and ladders. A valid passport is required.

There are an additional nine prizes and the drawing will be held February 10, 2012; need not be present to win. See the detailed prize list and ticket purchase details at the Boatnerd website.

HURRY! Tickets may only be purchased by mail.

Crossing Lake Michigan aboard the S.S. Badger is an adventure that offers a taste of the inland seas on a 4-hour trip between Ludington, Michigan and Manitowoc, Wisconsin. The 410-foot car ferry has been sailing since 1953, and makes daily trips from mid-May through mid-October.

The high speed Lake Express ferry

The modern Lake Express ferry makes the Lake Michigan crossing between Muskegon, Michigan and Milwaukee, Wisconsin in 2-1/2 hours. The 192-foot long ship took to the Great Lake in 2004, and operates from early May through October.

Fares vary depending on passenger age and type of vehicle.



Those who want to sample the inland seas under the billowing sails of a 19th century Tall Ship can take a 2-hour day trip, afternoon or evening specialty cruise, or overnight Windjammer adventure aboard the schooner Manitou. The 114-foot replica vessel sails Lake Michigan out of Traverse City.

Tall Ships Appledore IV and V sail Lake Huron (BaySail photo)

On Lake Huron the Tall Ships Appledore IV and Appledore V sail from Bay City on a variety of cruises, from 3-hour day sails to popular evening and moonlight outings.

Buy a print suitable for framing, or a mousepad, mug or calendar featuring a choice of vessels from Great Lakes freighters to ferries, tugs, fishing and tour boats and more.

The images were captured by Captain Paul Beesley, a certified mariner from Canada who declares on his Shiphotos website, “I Shoot Ships!”

I’ve written before about Lee Murdock, the Great Lakes balladeer who specializes in preserving and performing songs of those who’ve lived and worked on and around the inland seas.

He’s just come out with a new CD, A Wordless Christmas ($15) and is offering a free music download of “In the Bleak Midwinter,” a beautiful song with an unfortunate title. Go to Lee Murdock’s website to order his folk music CDs for a gift that captures the sounds of the Great Lakes.

Watch for more Great Lakes Christmas gift suggestions in the coming days.


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