Port Milwaukee celebrates city’s growing Great Lakes cruise industry and its rebound since COVID pandemic
Mayor Cavalier Johnson was joined by officials from the City of Milwaukee, the State of Wisconsin, and the Great Lakes region on October 19 to celebrate a banner year for the city’s growing cruising industry.
Mayor Johnson announced that his 2023 Proposed Budget would complete the financing package for the redevelopment of South Shore Cruise Dock, located immediately east of the Lake Express High-Speed Ferry terminal.
“Milwaukee is a great destination, filled with attractions and hospitality. People from around the globe are clearly taking notice of our city, and the growing passenger and vessel visit numbers speak for themselves,” said Mayor Johnson. “This effort is a wonderful example of how the City’s partnerships are creating new excitement and activity in Milwaukee. I’m looking forward to more travelers cruising to America’s Fresh Coast next year, and beyond.”
The location would serve as the future port-of-call for Seawaymax vessels. Port Milwaukee received $3.5 million in Capital Tourism grant funding from the State of Wisconsin to build this new infrastructure at South Shore Cruise Dock.
In 2022, Milwaukee welcomed 13,610 passengers that traveled to-or-from the city via international cruise ship. That represented a total of 33 vessel calls between the eight vessels that host itineraries in Milwaukee.
That was compared to the 10 total stops made during the 2019 season, before Great Lakes cruising halted for two years because of the COVID-19 pandemic. Port staff handled approximately 16,000 items of luggage this year – highlighting how efficient, safe, and accommodating the recreational tourism operation had become.
Several ongoing efforts remain underway to promote the passenger cruise business in Milwaukee and throughout the Great Lakes. Port Milwaukee is the founder of the Milwaukee Cruise Collaborative, a local group promoting the city as a cruise destination.
The Collaborative, which includes a cross section of the local hospitality industry, has planned, promoted and prepared for increased Great Lakes cruising passengers. VISIT Milwaukee and various local stakeholders are also proud partners in promoting Great Lakes cruising activity in the city.
The Port is also a participant in the Cruise the Great Lakes initiative of the Great Lakes St. Lawrence Governors & Premiers. The Port recently signed onto a Cruise the Great Lakes pledge committing to promoting environmental stewardship practices and efforts for the 2022 cruising season and beyond.
“Milwaukee is becoming the turnaround port of choice for international cruise lines operating on the Great Lakes. This success is because of the hard work of Port staff and our partners,” said Adam Tindall-Schlicht, Director of Port Milwaukee. “Our momentum and positioning as a Great Lakes cruising destination will keep moving forward.”
On October 20 Tindall-Schlicht announced that he had accepted a position in the Biden-Harris Administration, with his departure set for October 28. Tindall-Schlicht has served as Director of Port Milwaukee since August 2018.
“My position as Port Director has been the greatest experience of my professional life thus far,” said Tindall-Schlicht. “Serving the residents of the City of Milwaukee and promoting statewide economic growth through the Port’s commercial, recreational and cruise operations has been a privilege.”
An interim Port Director will be announced in the weeks ahead. A nationwide search will soon commence to identify a permanent replacement for Milwaukee’s Port Director.
Port Milwaukee is an economic entity of City government governed by the seven-member Board of Harbor Commissioners, a panel appointed by the Mayor and confirmed by the Common Council. It administers operations on the 467 acres that make up the Port. It promotes shipping and commerce throughout the region by providing access to domestic and international ships, rail, and over-the-road transportation.
Office of Mayor Cavalier Johnson / City of Milwaukee