Two passenger cruise vessels are docking in Milwaukee today, a rare occurrence that Port Milwaukee and tourism officials hope will become more common as they make a concerted effort to attract more cruise ships to the city.
Representatives with Port Milwaukee and Visit Milwaukee welcomed visitors from the 210-passenger Pearl Mist, the flagship vessel of Pearl Seas Cruises, at the dock east of the Lake Express ferry terminal on Friday morning.
Also set to arrive in Milwaukee today, the 100-passenger Grande Mariner of the Great Lakes Cruise Company is expected to dock adjacent to Discovery World in downtown Milwaukee later this evening. It’s the first time in recent history that two cruise ships have ported simultaneously in the city.
Adam Schlicht, director of Port Milwaukee, said the arrival of the two ships is an indicator of what’s to come.
“Milwaukee has historically seen some cruise activity; it’s been on an occasional, ad-hoc basis,” Schlicht said. “You’ll see a vessel like the Hamburg coming to Milwaukee every year or every other year, but the reason why we’re excited today is I believe this is the start of consistent ongoing activity for cruise ships coming into Milwaukee.”
Port Milwaukee and Visit Milwaukee have joined a coalition of business and government entities in an initiative to attract cruise ships to the Great Lakes. The effort, coined “Cruise the Great Lakes,” was formally announced Thursday as the newest project of Chicago-based Great Lakes St. Lawrence Governors and Premiers.
Early indications suggest Milwaukee’s cruise-related activity could soon pick up steam.
The Hamburg, a 400 passenger cruise ship operated by Bremen, Germany-based cruise company Plantours, is expected to stop in Milwaukee on two dates later this year. The ship also docked in Milwaukee last year.
In 2019, Port Milwaukee expects more than ten cruise vessel visits from at least five different ships.
“That will be a new record for us in 2019,” Schlicht said. “The outlook is incredibly exciting.”
Pearl Seas Cruises announced Friday it is assessing using Port Milwaukee as its embarkation point for its Great Lakes cruises in 2019 and 2020. Under that proposal, 20 cruises would either begin or end in Milwaukee during the next two cruise seasons.
“We are thrilled to be in Milwaukee for the first time and we are appreciative of the efforts from those in the port to make this a reality,” said Paul Taiclet, vice president of operations for Pearl Seas. “We have already received positive feedback from guests and look forward to the possibility of a long partnership with the city.”
Kristin Settle, director of communications for Visit Milwaukee, said that’s good news for the city. Passengers on the Pearl Mist will spend today exploring the city, with stops planned at the Milwaukee Art Museum, Pabst Mansion, Milwaukee Public Museum and Milwaukee Public Market.
“As we utilize our beautiful port, it’s going to become much more of a business for the city of Milwaukee,” Settle said. “That’s great. The more we can grow our tourism numbers and attract people from around the world, the better it is for our city.”
Here’s a video of the Pearl Mist:
Here’s a video of the Grande Mariner: