Mackinac Island Dock Expansion

When we first started telling you about our Mackinac Island Dock expansion project back in the fall of 2017, we had no idea the impact the weather would have on the construction.  Cold winters have made building a challenge, but a year and a half into the build, and we are seeing progress every day.

Island Dock prior to renovations in 2017.


Our goal for the whole project was to make a better guest experience and we are doing that by widening the dock by 10 feet, adding covered waiting areas for guests and luggage, and by building a new ticket office under the sheltered area at the top of the dock.  Check out the pictures below for up-to-date progress of these improvements.

Photo courtesy of V. Dobrowolski

The end of the dock is getting squared off, which will not only add space, but also a little more protection from the wind in the harbor.

Photo courtesy of T. Brodeur

In the photo above, you can see the pilings that mark the extra 10 feet on the east side.  That 10 foot expansion goes the full length of the dock and will give more room for guests exiting and boarding the ferries.

Photo courtesy of T. Brodeur

If you look at the right half of the picture above, you can see the new structures that will house our covered guest and luggage areas.  To the west side of the dock is the guest area.  While it just shows the framing, it will have a solid roof with barn doors that will open and close depending on the weather.  It is bigger than it looks and will hold around 300 people in organized lines as they wait in comfort for their departures off the island.


To the east side, you see the luggage area.  This will be used for both incoming and outgoing luggage.  This will free up the space under the sheltered area at the top of the dock for our new ticket office.  Guests seeking tickets or information will definitely find this set-up more convenient.


We will continue to share updated photos of the project as it progresses, so be sure to watch here and on our social media channels in the upcoming months.

Mainland Improvements

With all of the excitement surrounding the island dock, don’t think we forgot about our mainland ports!  We have been working diligently for the past year to improve our parking facilities in both Mackinaw City and St. Ignace.

The St. Ignace dock parking was completely paved last year and the improvement to lot is amazing.  There are football fields of parking!

Mackinaw City parking improvements are many.  We have installed gates at our Premium lot to make parking more convenient and easier to pay for. (More on that in the coming weeks.)  Our day lot at 311 S. Nicolet Street, across from I-75 N exit 338, has had a complete makeover.  We have built a new Gateway that will be open in May and three new Shuttle Stops that are close to being complete.  It is easier than ever to know where to pick up the tram from that lot so you can get swiftly to the dock.


Speaking of trams…

We added this new tram to the rotation in 2018 and it was a huge help in getting guests to and from the dock quickly.  It was very important for us to have this tram be wheelchair accessible, so there is a ramp for those needing extra assistance.  With anything new, there is always a learning a curve.  What we learned with the trams working all day, every day last season was that they did not have enough power to be run at full capacity so often.  Enter John Deere…

Meet your new tram tugs for 2019!  We can’t wait to put that Shepler touch on these brand new tractors.  Look for them to be painted with the same color scheme as the current trams.  Our drivers will be riding in comfort with both heat and air conditioning in the cabs. The comfort of our cast members is just as important to us as the comfort of our guests, and while these might not be what you are used to seeing pulling the tram cars, we know that they will outperform any tug that we have had in the past.


We are so excited to see and to share all of our improvement projects as they are complete.  Be sure to sign up for our Ferry Tales e-newsletter and watch all of our social media channels for updates for the upcoming season.

We’re one month away and we can’t wait to see everyone!


New updated photos from March 21, 2019 show the progress of the two covered areas on the Mackinac Island Dock.  The closest shelter will house luggage and the further covered area will be our guest waiting area.  And look at that new decking!  Keep watching for updates as the project progresses.