Tall Ship Cruises – A Great Way to Experience Great Lakes

One of the unusual and memorable ways of spending leisure time in the area of Great Lakes is going on a sailing ship (tall ship) cruise. Surprisingly, there are a number of tall ships around that offer both short and long trips on the Inland Seas.

Tall Ship Cruises - Great Lakes
s/v Challenge

Lake Michigan

Tall Ship Cruises - Great Lakes
S/v Manitou sails into the sunset.

Windjammer Multi-day Cruises, Traverse City, MI – Traverse Tall Ship Co. offers 3- to 6-day long cruises, as well as short 2-hour trips. Of course, they are offered during the warm months of the year. Summer sailing season begins during the Memorial Day weekend. Their tall ship is the 114-foot Manitou, a replica of a 19th-century schooner.

Inland Seas Education Association, Suttons Bay, MI – The association offers few different 2- or 3-hour cruises with hands-on sailing experience aboard the 77-foot schooner Inland Seas.

Tall Ship Cruises - Great Lakes
s/v Friends Good Will

Michigan Maritime Museum, South Haven, MI – The Maritime Museum offers educational and passenger sails aboard the 101-foot Friends Good Will. The 2004-built ship is a replica of an 1810 square topsail sloop.

Sailing Door County, Sister Bay, WI – Their ship is the 65-foot gaff-rigged schooner Edith M. Becker. Tours vary with the weather. Generally, they are short 2-hour cruises.

Tall Ship Cruises - Great Lakes
S/v Denis Sullivan under full set of sails.

Discovery World, Milwaukee, WI – The Discovery World’s  tall ship, the sailing vessel Denis Sullivan is the world’s only recreation of a 19th century three-masted Great Lakes schooner. It is a pretty large ship with the length of 137 feet. There are day and evening sails that are offered aboard s/v Denis Sullivan. (Denis Sullivan was sold in 2022! Discovery World does not offer tall ship cruises anymore. Read about it here.)

Tall Ship Cruises - Great Lakes
s/v Tall Ship Windy

The Tall Ship Windy, Chicago, IL – The s/v Tall Ship Windy is 148-foot traditional four-masted topsail schooner. The company offers day and evening sails, as well as some special events tours. The Tall Ship Windy sails from the Chicago’s Navy Pier.

Tall Ship Cruises - Great Lakes
s/v Red Witch

Red Witch, Kenosha, WIRed Witch is the 77-food two-masted topsail schooner. It is a replica of a 19th century Great Lakes ship. Red Witch offers short sails from Thursday till Sunday.

Lake Superior

Tall Ship Cruises - Great Lakes
s/v Coaster II

Superior Odyssey, Marquette, MI – The Coaster II is a 58-foot topsail schooner built in 1933 and sails out of Marquette. It offers two-, four-, or eight-hour charter sails for groups of up to six. The Coaster II also offers overnight sails along Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore. (It appears that Superior Odyssey stopped operating. The webiste is gone, and I could not find any information about what happened to it.)

Lake Huron

Appledore Tallships, Bay City, MI – The only tall ships on Lake Huron –  the 85-foot, two-masted schooner Appledore IV and 65-foot , two-masted schooner Aplledore V offer a variety of day and evening  sails from its port in Bay City in Michigan.

Lake Erie

Tall Ship Cruises - Great Lakes
S/v Niagara, the only square-rigger on Great Lakes.

Erie Maritime Museum, Erie, PA – Their ship is the 198-foot U.S. Brig Niagara. “Sailing onboard brig is an unusual opportunity to experience the long vanished world of the wooden square rigged sailing ship.” When Niagara is in her home port of Erie, PA, people can sign up to sail onboard. Typical day sails include four hours of sailing in Presque Isle Bay and/or the open lake (weather and time dependent), history lectures  and demonstrations.

Tall Ship Cruises - Great Lakes
Spirit of Buffalo

Spirit of Buffalo, Buffalo, NYSpirit of Buffalo is a classic 73 foot topsail schooner. It offers day sails, evening and sunset sails, pirate cruises and dinner and a sail.

Lake Ontario

Tall Ship Cruises - Great Lakes
s/v Kajama

Tall Ship Cruises, Toronto, ONT – Tall Ship Cruises offers cruises aboard its Kajama and Challenge ships. Kajama is a traditional 165 foot three-masted schooner and Challenge is a 96-foot, also, a three-masted schooner. Kajama offers day and evening sails every weekend from beginning of May, all the way until the end of September! The 2-hour day or evening sunset Toronto harbor boat cruise consists of a 30 minute boarding time, and an hour and a half sail out on the open waters of Lake Ontario. During each cruise they fire off the ship’s canon.

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Rich S.
Rich S.http://www.greatlakesexplorer.com
Rich S. is a lifetime photographer and traveler based in Metro Detroit area. He has been traveling the Great Lakes area for over 30 years. Follow his blog about his trips, interesting activities and destinations in the Great Lakes region.

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