Port Milwaukee plans to enter into a lease agreement with Pearl Seas Cruises, which would give the company priority docking rights for its cruise ships at Pier Wisconsin, the downtown dock immediately east of Discovery World museum.

The Board of Harbor Commissioners approved the agreement at its meeting on December 3. Under the lease, Pearl Seas can extend the initial ten year agreement until 2040.

“Pearl Seas has been a great partner with our port, bringing passengers to our city and establishing Milwaukee as a center of Great Lakes cruising,” said Mayor Tom Barrett. “Starting with the 2021 cruise season, that partnership is growing, which is wonderful news for the city, for Pearl Seas, and for the vacationers discovering Great Lakes Cruising.”

The cruise line’s ship, the Pearl Mist, has visited Milwaukee regularly in recent years. That vessel carries up to 210 passengers on voyages throughout the Great Lakes. This new agreement helps solidify Milwaukee’s position as an embarkation and debarkation port for the company’s itineraries.

“Port Milwaukee is a terrific partner and Pearl Seas is proud to make a long term commitment to the City and Port. Milwaukee is a premier destination on the Great Lakes and a favorite of the guests and crew,” said Paul Taiclet, VP Hotel Operations for Pearl Seas Cruises. “Our future together is bright and we can’t wait for the Pearl Mist to return next summer.”

Port Director Adam Tindall-Schlicht praised the work 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.

“The Port continues to capitalize on increased interest in passenger cruising on the Great Lakes and increased interest in Milwaukee as the hub for passengers to start or end their voyages,” said Tindall-Schlicht. “In the coming years, thousands of passengers will visit our city, stay in local hotels, dine in our restaurants, and enjoy all the great things Milwaukee offers.”

The agreement with Pearl Seas will be presented to the Milwaukee Common Council for its approval in the coming weeks. Port Milwaukee is an economic entity of City government governed by the seven-member Board of Harbor Commissioners, a panel appointed by Mayor Barrett and confirmed by the Common Council. It administers operations on the more than 400 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.

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Lee Matz