MACKINAC ISLAND, MI - Mackinac Islands popular Sip n Sail Cruises kicked off the 2021 season with an expanded lineup, including a fun Its 5 oclock Somewhere trip and another focused on the Straits of Mackinacs fascinating history.
Most peoples visits to Mackinac Island are bookended by quick ferry trips. But if youre not getting out on the water during your vacation, youre missing a chance to see the island and the surrounding Straits area from a whole new perspective, said Andrew Doud, who co-owns Sip n Sail with Arnold Freight CEO Veronica Dobrowolski.
Guests have been stepping aboard the 81-foot Isle Royale Queen III and tooling around the islands waters for more than five years. The cruises - sometimes a handful each day in the summer - are all built around themes. Many feature live music. All offer beverage service from a fully-stocked bar.
Doud said this years new Its 5 oclock Somewhere cruise offers a fun twist on an early evening trip out on the water. Live music plays and the bar is open as the boat heads out under the Mackinac Bridge before looping back to the island on this 90-minute trip.
The half dozen new history trips, too, are designed with a little local star power. They are to be narrated by Phil Porter, who recently retired as director of Mackinac State Historic Parks. These family-friendly cruises will cover Mackinacs history from its time as a Native American settlement through its foreign-flag occupations, its commercial fishing era, and into todays resort culture. Porter will also talk about what lies beneath.
Phil will do the history of the shipwrecks that are out there, and where theyre at. This is going to be really exciting, said Doud, who also owns Douds Market and is co-owner of The Mackinac House.
Last years mid-morning cruises featuring Bloody Marys, mimosas and other cocktails were a big hit, so youll find them on the schedule again this year in different forms. The Easy Like Sunday Mornin cruises offer smooth music and some great views. A perfect way to start your Sunday, the description reads. Your captain will take you on a relaxing cruise. Some points of interest on your cruise will be Arch Rock, British Landing and a shoreline tour of the West Bluff featuring the famous Grand Hotel and concluding with a tour of the harbor.
The summer lineup also has special cruises featuring Michigan craft beer, at least one for bourbon enthusiasts, and of course, a steady serving of the fan-favorite sunset cruises.
To see the entire summer schedule and ticket prices, see Sip n Sails website here.
The Isle Royale Queen III can also be booked for private charters. The boat has enough room to comfortably host everything from wedding parties to retirement celebrations, company events or family reunions, Doud said. For pricing and details, check the website here.
The Isle Royale Queen III is 81 feet long and has been plying The Great Lakes for decades. Photo provided by Sip n' Sail.
QUEEN OF THE GREAT LAKES
The Isle Royale Queen III has been riding three of the Great Lakes since 1960, and started out a bit smaller than her current length - and with a slightly different name.
In the late 1950s, Ward Grosnik of Copper Harbor contracted with the T.D. Vinette Boat Company in Escanaba to build the Isle Royale Queen II. He wanted a big ferry boat that could carry passengers across Lake Superior to Isle Royale National Park, a remote island that sits closer to the lakes Canadian side.
The 57-foot Isle Royale Queen II went into service in 1960. It could carry 57 people, and a couple tons of cargo - usually canoes, camping gear and other provisions for adventurers set to explore the island.
In 1971, the ferry business was sold to Donald Kilpela Sr. When he could not find a new passenger ship, he hired naval architect Timothy Graul, from Sturgeon Bay, Wis., to lengthen the Queen II. Vinette Boat Company was tapped again to handle the expansion. When she was finished, the 81-foot-long ferry could carry 100 passengers and cut through the water at a faster, smoother clip.
In 1989, the improved ship was renamed the Isle Royale Queen III. She did trips out of Copper Harbor until 2004, when she was replaced by a larger ferry. The Queen III then was used to carry passengers on Lake Michigan between Menominee, Mi., and Wisconsins Door Peninsula for the next several years.
In 2010, the Queen IIIs cabins and upper deck were refurbished so passengers could enjoy the scenery topside. Her home ports after that were Marquette and now Mackinac Island.
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