13,000 cruise ship visitors to Milwaukee mark sharp rise in visitors since pandemic

NOW: 13,000 cruise ship visitors to Milwaukee mark sharp rise in visitors since pandemic

MILWAUKEE (CBS 580 -- Milwaukee city leaders and tourism officials are celebrating what they're calling a huge comeback for cruise ships visiting Milwaukee. Hear how much of a comeback it is.

Over 13,000 people visited Milwaukee by cruise ship this year, a sharp rise from the 1,000 people in 2019 before the pandemic.

"While the passenger count is growing, the cruise ships coming to Milwaukee are getting bigger and bigger, too, and that's a great thing," said Milwaukee Mayor Cavalier Johnson.

Leaders say the people who visited local businesses and tourism attractions are thanks to work put in during the pandemic to make the port a good destination for cruise ships.

Port Milwaukee officials say they're glad their partnerships in the government and community made this possible.

It's something they hope continues, with $3.5 million from Governor Evers' administration in capitol tourism grants to reconstruct the South Shore Cruise Dock and Mayor Johnson's proposal for an additional $2 million to the effort.

"Maintaining that quality of service that we've developed in recent years, and certainly indicated this year, and finding new opportunities to continue to advance other cruise lines that are increasingly looking at the Great Lakes, knowing that Milwaukee is that choice destination," said Adam Tindall-Schlicht, Port Milwaukee director.

Port Milwaukee officials say Milwaukee is the turn-around port of choice for cruise ships on the Great Lakes.

In 2019, there were only 10 stops in Milwaukee from cruise ships, bringing about 1,000 people to Milwaukee.

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