'This was wonderful:' Cruise ship docks in the Port of Milwaukee, lets hundreds explore the city

MILWAUKEE -- Tuesday, June 11 marked the official start of cruise ship season in Milwaukee as the Pearl Mist arrived at Port Milwaukee.

Adam Schlicht

When you think of a cruise vacation, Milwaukee may not be the first place to come to mind.

"Milwaukee is really positioning itself as a premiere destination for Great Lakes cruising," said Adam Schlicht, Port Milwaukee director.

As passengers got back on land, they were greeted by tour buses, ready to help them explore the city. The travelers said they planned to stay awhile.

Pearl Mist

Pearl Mist

"I want to see the breweries, of course, and the polka hall. I'm originally from Chicago. I've got family here, and we're going to stay for about a week and travel up and back," said a Pearl Mist passenger.

That's one of the reasons officials at Port Milwaukee said they were focusing on making cruise ships like the Pearl Mist a more common sight in the Brew City.

"They'll be visiting our restaurants. They'll be visiting our museums, our cultural and entertainment locations," said Schlicht.

This was the first ship of the season.

Pearl Mist

Eleven stops were planned by cruise ships in Milwaukee in summer 2019 -- more than double the number in 2018.

Mayor Tom Barrett was also behind the push to increase cruise ship stops in the city.

"This is part of a larger vision of how we attract more people to the city of Milwaukee," said Mayor Barrett.

The cruise travels between Toronto and Milwaukee, with other stops along the way.

Pearl Mist

"This was wonderful. This was better than the European trips," said a Pearl Mist passenger.

The Pearl Mist holds 210 passengers, and officials said they expected the ship to be fully booked for each of its stops in Milwaukee this summer.