Cruise the Dunes in the New Miners Castle
By Danielle Horvath 6/15/09
Almost everyone who lives or visits Northern Michigan makes a visit to the Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore, and many make the trek up the popular Dune Climb to take in the expansive views at the top. But not many have had the chance to see the front door of the massive shoreline. Beginning this summer, they will get that chance with a new boat cruise that will offer twice-daily trips along the coast from Frankfort to Empire, aboard the Miners Castle, a twin-diesel passenger vessel.
Capable of carrying over 100 people, the 17-mile round trip will last almost three hours and will include a historical narrative of the lakeshore, from its maritime roots to local lighthouses to several well-known shipwrecks in the area.
Based in Frankfort, the fledgling business is leasing dock space from the city and will offer cruises daily starting June 1 through Oct. 18. With an enclosed, heated cabin and open upper deck, the cruises will run rain or shine, lake conditions permitting. They are also leasing space for a ticket and gift shop in the old Firestone Building on Main Street. The vessel is being leased from the company that has offered a similar boat cruise along Lake Superiors Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore for the past 50 years.
We had been looking at this beautiful shoreline for a while, manager Molly Carmody explained. And we felt this was the best area to have a successful venture. If the initial support is any indication, it appears they may have a hit on their hands. The response has been tremendous, people have been stopping by daily telling us what a great idea they think it is, how glad they are that we are investing in their community, asking what they can do to help, its more than we ever expected.
The Sleeping Bear Dunes Cruise can take reservations weeks or months in advance, or five minutes before the boat leaves the dock, depending on space available. Refreshments are available for purchase or passengers can bring their own. Alcohol is not allowed unless a large group has reserved the boat and has hired a caterer with a liquor license.
Reservations can be made online at www.sleepingbearcruise.com and on the phone at toll-free (888) 469-4696 or locally at (231) 352-8102. Adult fare runs $33, children 6-12 are $10 and under 5 are free. Group rates are also available; contact them for more detailed information. The ticket office is located at 827 Main St. just east of the Frankfort downtown district.