Massive dock plans underway as Milwaukee strives to become top cruise ship destination on Great Lakes

NOW: Massive dock plans underway as Milwaukee strives to become top cruise ship destination on Great Lakes

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MILWAUKEE (CBS 58) -- After two years of a halt in the cruise industry because of the pandemic, Milwaukee is expecting a boom in that industry. Port Milwaukee has plans underway to add a larger dock to their South Shore location to serve larger ships.

"Since 2018 we have seen a precipitous increase in cruise activity on the Great Lakes coming to Milwaukee," said Adam Tindall-Schlicht, director of Port Milwaukee.

He said they're expecting over 10,000 cruise passengers in 2022. That number in 2018 was 1,000.

"We are improving our South Shore cruise dock, which is closer to Bay View for seaway max vessels. These are the biggest cruise ships that are being built to operate on the Great Lakes, bring in their turn-around service and bring all their passengers to Milwaukee," said Tindall- Schlicht.

Governor Tony Evers gave a $3.5 million grant to the city-owned port towards the dock project. It will cover about half of the $7 million cost. The port plans to pay the rest of the bill with proceeds from the city's sale of the land for Komatsu Mining South Harbor Campus development and a $500,000 grant it received in 2021 from the Wisconsin Department of Transportation.

Tindall-Schlicht said Milwaukee honed down on turn-around services as many Great Lakes cruise itineraries begin and end in the city, which brings in twice as many passengers.

He said it will only level up the city's economy. Some residents agree.

"I think we've got the lake here and we have all this access and we got a great city, so bring in the tourist and bring in the money," said Debrah Becwar.

Another resident said he thinks it will only add to the growing developments in the city.

"Since I've been here I've already seen Milwaukee grow so much and it's cool to see what else they're doing," said Spencer Tate.

Tindall-Schlicht said they will still be operating their docks on Pier Wisconsin, South Shore Cruise and other industrial docks throughout the season.

He said the project is projected to wrap up between 2023 and 2024.

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