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Everything You Need to Know About Apostle Islands Cruises

Twenty-one islands with breathtaking beaches along Lake Superior, stunning historical lighthouses, plenty of wildlife, and naturally carved sandstone formations and sea caves make up the Apostle Islands National Lakeshore. Serving the public within the national lakeshore as an authorized park concessioner in Bayfield, Wisconsin, Apostle Islands Cruises provides narrated sightseeing cruises, kayaking tours, hiking and camping shuttles, and water taxi services.

sea caves

Experience the “jewels of Lake Superior” onboard! Here’s everything you need to know before booking a trip with Apostle Islands Cruises:

Apostle Islands Cruises: Pick Your Adventure

cruise and sea caves

The Grand Tour

Approximate cruise length: 2.5 to 3 hours

View as passing the Devils Island Lighthouse. Photo by Meghan Langmyer.

The most popular Apostle Islands adventure is the two and a half to three hour “Grand Tour”, a 55-mile excursion that travels through the heart of the Apostle Islands archipelago. The route may vary due to weather conditions, but its popularity stems from its visit to Devils Island, home to some of the most breathtaking rock formations and sea caves that honeycomb its northern shore. Throughout this memorable cruise, you’re certain to pass dramatic natural scenery, the historic Raspberry and Devils Island Lighthouses, standing rocks, extensive sea caves, and beautiful marine wildlife.

Daily tours are offered from late May to mid-October.

Sea Caves & Lighthouse Tour

Raspberry Island Light, Apostle Islands National Lakeshore, Wisconsin. Photo by Kristen Carlson.

Approximate cruise length: 3 hours

Climb aboard our catamaran the Archipelago and visit the iconic sea caves. The cruise also passes by two of the most picturesque lighthouses, one on Raspberry and one on Sand Island, of the Apostle Islands! Raspberry Island Light, known as the “Showplace of the Apostle Islands” started construction in 1959 at the insistence of Henry Rice, the founder of Bayfield, and was completed in 1862. Similarly, Sand Island Light is considered one of the most beautiful of the islands and built in a Gothic style from sandstone quarried on site in 1881.

Daily tours from June 12 – September 12.

Wrecks, Rocks & Lighthouses Tours

Approximate cruise length: 2 1/2 hours

Once a day in the afternoon, the Superior Princess, with its glass bottom viewing wells, embarks on a two and a half hour adventure for the Wrecks, Rocks & Lighthouses Tour. It passes over legendary shipwrecks, and continues on to the two lighthouses on Michigan Island, which have plenty of tales to tell. It also travels by Honeymoon Rock, a beautiful, isolated “sea stack” off of Basswood Island. The island was once home to Bass Island Brownstone Company Quarry – such brownstone rocks were used to construct the massive stone buildings in major cities like Milwaukee, Minneapolis, Chicago, and Detroit during the late 1800s. It will then cruise along the mainland shore to view historic shipwrecks above the water.

Daily tours from June 26 – September 6.

2021 Operation Note: Shuttles & Camping

View of the dock and Lake Superior from atop Michigan Island Lighthouse.

Please note: all regularly-scheduled shuttles which make stops will not operate in 2021. We are only running our non-stop sightseeing cruises (Grand Tour, Wrecks Rocks & Lighthouses, and Sea Caves & Lighthouses Tours)

Getting There

All tours depart from the city dock right in downtown Bayfield! Parking is available on all streets, with most of them offering free, daily parking. However, Rittenhouse Avenue and Front Street provide 2-hour parking only.

Since seating aboard all cruises is first-come, first-served, if you have a preference of where you sit, arrive 45-minutes to an hour prior to departure time.

Reservations: Plan Ahead of Time

Reservations are highly recommended! Since tickets sell out regularly, especially during the weekends, planning ahead is key. Be sure to check availability 2-3 weeks ahead of your trip and purchase tickets as soon as possible.

Our Boats: Convenience at its Finest

Apostle Islands Cruises works closely to assist passengers with any particular needs or special requirements. The lower decks are handicap accessible on the Superior Princess and Archipelago, but there are stairs to the upper deck.

Our boats are also equipped with restrooms and concessions where we sell beverages for a low fee.

Refunds: What if the Weather’s Bad?

You have up to one hour prior to departure to either transfer your tickets to another cruise depending on availability or receive a full refund. If we cancel a cruise due to weather, you will have the same options.

Are Pets Allowed?

Pets are not permitted aboard our cruises. In accordance with the ADA, service animals are allowed, however, this does not include emotional support animals or therapy animals.

What Should I Bring?

Since the temperature drops an average of 10-15 degrees on Lake Superior, bring plenty of layers to ensure your trip is a comfortable one. You’re also welcome to bring along small coolers, snacks, and beverages.

And, of course, bring your camera!