ESCANABA, Mich. (WZMQ) – Built in 2001, the American Queen Voyages Ocean Navigator takes its 120 passengers to exciting cities along the Great Lakes. However, there is plenty to do and see on board the 300-foot-long ship as well–from sunbathing on the deck to organized events down below.
“Apart from whatever they wish to do, they have a choice of entertainment during the day and in the evening,” said Ocean Navigator Captain Wojtek Ziolkowski. “We have a band, quizzes, trivias, all sorts of different activities for the passengers.”
The ship also offers a variety of dining options, all included with a cruise ticket.
“We have a lot of good feedback on our cuisine and the chefs’ cooking and the dining experiences,” said Captain Ziolkowski. “It’s a really, really high standard.”
While passengers relax and explore each place the Ocean Navigator stops, it’s not a vacation for the captain and crew members.
“This is a small ship, but it’s a big operation,” Ziolkowski said. “There’s a lot of administration, a lot of communication–local authorities, the agents–making sure everything runs as it is supposed to run on the vessel.”
Captain Ziolkowski, who is from Poland, does visit each city when he has time. He says he is looking forward to exploring Escanaba.
“I had the pleasure to meet the mayor of the city, and there’s many places I would like to visit,” he said.
While this is Ziolkowski’s second season on the Great Lakes with American Queen Voyages, he has a long history on the water.
“I never wanted to be anything else,” he said. “I always wanted to be a seaman. I started my career when I was 14 years old as a cadet. I did a couple of years in the Maritime Academy, and I was in the Naval Academy in Poland.”
Ziolkowski says American Queen Voyages cruises provide a unique experience, as they bypass some of the hassle of other cruise lines by allowing passengers to board in their own country. He says passengers also get to see places not too far from home, like Escanaba, that they may otherwise never get to visit.
“It gives you the opportunity to see, for example, in eleven days ten different post ports, ten different places,” Ziolkowski said. “You wake up one day in Detroit; the next day you’re in Mackinac Island. That’s the beauty of cruising, and I think it’s a brilliant way of spending your holiday.”
The next American Queen Voyages ship, The Voyager, will arrive on Thursday, May 25. Click here to see the first arrival of the Ocean Navigator earlier this week.