2024 Great Lakes cruising season expected to bring 20K visitors

Cruise ship

Officials are expecting the upcoming Great Lakes cruising season to bring 20,000 visitors and $200 million in economic impact to the region.

The cruise marketing program for the region, Cruise the Great Lakes, released its forecast today for the 2024 cruising season, on the heels of a record-breaking season in 2023.

“As we look ahead to 2024, we remain committed to sustaining the vitality of our region’s cruising sector,” said Anna Tanski, tourism director of Cruise the Great Lakes. “In just a decade, the number of cruise passengers has more than doubled, and Great Lakes ports continue to thrive as hubs for visitors. We are focused on maintaining this momentum as we navigate the future.”

The release stated that six cruise lines will make nearly 600 port visits this year.

Despite positive predictions, this season’s roster is down from eight cruise lines in 2023. Pearl Seas Cruises, Viking Cruises, St. Lawrence Cruise Lines, Ponant, Hapag-Lloyd and Plantours Cruises are all returning while American Queen Voyages and Vantage have withdrawn.

Conversely, economic impact is expected to increase by $20 million, from $180 million, in 2023, the release said. This increase is said to be “driven by an upward trend in passenger numbers, port visits, shoreside spending,” combined with the appeal of Great Lakes cruises.

Despite this, passenger numbers appear to be down. In 2022, the total passenger visits were estimated at 150,000. It was 170,000 in 2023. This year, the prediction is 140,000.

“The history of Great Lakes cruising extends back over 150 years, and the rich natural beauty of our region continues to captivate passengers in 2024,” said Anne Sayers, chair of Cruise the Great Lakes and secretary of the Wisconsin Department of Tourism. “This enduring fascination is a testament to the timeless allure of the Great Lakes, and the economic impact of cruise passengers supports the economic vitality of large and small destinations.”

Popular cruise destinations in Michigan include Detroit, Mackinac Island, Sault Ste. Marie, Alpena, Fayette, Houghton, Marquette and Muskegon.

The season runs from May through October.

— with files from mlive.com


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