Cruising to Milwaukee: Passengers disembark in Brew City

The ship is docked outside Discovery World at Port Milwaukee.

Last updated on June 27th, 2019 at 11:17 am

Orillia, Canada resident Clarwyn Long is on day 11 of his 12-day cruise of the Great Lakes aboard the Pearl Mist, a 210-passenger cruise ship that docked at Port Milwaukee near Discovery World this morning.

“This is my wife and I’s 60th wedding anniversary,” Long said. “…we found it on the internet. I said, ‘That might be neat.’ We’ve been on the Great Lakes, we’ve been on the Georgian Bay and so on near our home, so anyway we decided this might be a great anniversary.”

The pair, who will fly home from Milwaukee tomorrow, has been on larger Caribbean cruises before, but have enjoyed this smaller ship for its own advantages.

“The meals are fantastic. It’s not as crowded; you get more attention. There’s not, of course, as much to do but they have a pretty active program. They have entertainment at night,” Long said.

Long wasn’t as convinced about the advantages of Milwaukee. He uses a walker and chose not to do an excursion out into the city (though his wife did so).

“It’s just another big city and I’m sure I’ve seen lots of big cities and there didn’t seem to be anything I really wanted to get off and struggle with this walker so I decided to stay on the ship,” he said.

Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett and Port Milwaukee director Adam Schlicht are working to attract more cruises to the city’s port and convince passengers like Long to explore the city. They welcomed Pearl Mist Capt. George Ciortan in a press conference Tuesday morning, with Barrett saying the city would “lay out the red carpet” for him and his passengers.

“This is indeed an exciting day for the City of Milwaukee because we are establishing ourselves as the capital of America’s Fresh Coast,” Barrett said. “The fact that Pearl Mist is coming here demonstrates to you that others are seeing the value of what’s going on in our city right now and the location of our dock right here, the proximity to downtown, all of the activities that go on in Milwaukee in the summer, I think are what makes this such an incredibly attractive location.”

The Pearl Mist’s visit is the first of 11 port calls by cruise ships expected at Port Milwaukee this season. That is more than double the number of stops by cruise ships in Milwaukee last year. This ship also docked in Milwaukee last year, and will return July 3.

“Thank you very much for your kindness and unexpected visit from your side. It is incredible to be here,” Ciortan said. “It’s a wonderful city, everybody likes it, we have very good feedback from our guests last year.”

Milwaukee is a turnaround port on this Pearl Seas Cruises route, where passengers disembark. The Pearl Mist left from Toronto and also stopped in Clayton and Niagara Falls, New York; and Muskegon, Mackinac Island and Sault Sainte Marie, Michigan. The average passenger age is 70, and most of them are well-traveled, Ciortan said.

“So for our hotel industry, (being a turnaround port) likely means that there’s going to be an additional night at least, and visitors will spend more time in the City of Milwaukee,” Barrett said.

Schlicht, who personally greeted each of the 200 passengers on the Pearl Mist, said the Milwaukee Cruise Collaborative worked with Pearl Seas Cruises and local food, sightseeing and activity tour companies to set up excursion options for passengers in Milwaukee.

“Some may have decided to do biking and other activities,” he said. “Ultimately, the cruise company decides what excursion they would like to do, but we’re playing that facilitator role.”

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Molly Dill
Molly Dill, former BizTimes Milwaukee managing editor.