Now: Milwaukee attracting more cruise ships


Credit: Molly Dill

Last updated on July 3rd, 2019 at 12:34 pm

Port Milwaukee is seeing a significant increase in cruise ship traffic. This year, 11 cruise ships are expected to make ports of call in Milwaukee, up from three in 2018.

Port Milwaukee director Adam Schlicht said the increase is the result of strategically targeting cruise companies since he took over as port director last year.

“We knew that we had a lot of potential (as a cruise ship destination). We knew that we had capacity and room to grow,” he said.

Recently, the Pearl Mist, a 210-passenger cruise ship in the Pearl Seas Cruises line, docked at Port Milwaukee near Discovery World. It was the first cruise ship to dock in Milwaukee this year.

Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett and Schlicht welcomed Pearl Mist Capt. George Ciortan in a press conference, with Barrett saying the city would “lay out the red carpet” for him and his passengers.

“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,” Barrett said.

The Pearl Mist also docked in Milwaukee last year, and will return July 3.

“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 one of the most vibrant cities on the western shore of Lake Michigan, and the perfect home port for Pearl Seas’ Great Lakes cruises,” said company spokeswoman Alexa Paolella. “We look forward to bringing thousands of tourists to the city beginning this summer. Pearl Seas Cruises looks forward to visiting Milwaukee for many years to come.”

Milwaukee was a turnaround port on the latest Pearl Seas Cruises route with the Pearl Mist. 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 with the cruise ending in Milwaukee. 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 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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