Jeramey Jannene
Eyes on Milwaukee

Milwaukee Boat Line Moves Upriver

Cruise line is now located on edge of Deer District and is planning 2021 season.

By - May 7th, 2021 11:45 am
Milwaukee Boat Line vessels at their new dock on the Milwaukee River. Photo by Jeramey Jannene.

Milwaukee Boat Line vessels at their new dock on the Milwaukee River. Photo by Jeramey Jannene.

Milwaukee Boat Line has a new home on the Milwaukee River.

The company, which operates the double-decker Vista King and Voyageur vessels, relocated upstream to a dock just south of Juneau Avenue along the soon-to-be-renamed N. Old World Third St.

“It was kind of the perfect opportunity,” said owner Jake Chianelli in an interview. Interstate Parking Co. took over operations of the adjacent surface parking lot at the same time Milwaukee Boat Line was looking to relocate from its decades-long home at 101 W. Michigan St.

The new space provides increased visibility, and access for customers. “We are right at the foot of the Deer District,” said Chianelli. The pedestrian pathway across the street from the dock leads to the front door of Fiserv Forum, passing a number of bars and restaurants.

“There’s infrastructure and stuff for us to build off of,” said Chianelli, noting that the new dock was the original space used by the Edelweis boats.

Chianelli’s business found itself without a home after Rexnord relocated its headquarters to the office building adjacent to Milwaukee Boat Line’s longtime dock. As part of a reconfiguration of the riverwalk, Milwaukee Boat Line needed to find a new home.

“It wasn’t bad at the old place, but it’s going to be even better than that,” he said of the relocation.

The business had been located along W. Michigan St. since 1962, with Chianelli acquiring the company from a family friend in 2006.

Interstate and Milwaukee Boat Line are both planning improvements to the landscaping and dock area at the new site, 1124 N. Old World Third St. “We want to be good neighbors,” he said, noting that there is a deliberate focus on improving public access to the area.

In addition to building out the new location, Milwaukee Boat Line is close to completing a multi-year rehabilitation effort on its floating office and workshop – The Iroquois.

2021 Sailing Season

Milwaukee Boat Line will launch its 2021 season on Memorial Day weekend with a slimmed down schedule. One sightseeing tour, along the river and out in Milwaukee, will operate on weekdays at 2 p.m. with three trips a day on the weekends, including a happy hour cruise.

Chianelli hopes to ramp the business up to full scale in July. “Fingers crossed,” he said. That includes live music cruises and private charters.

Capacity for now continues to be limited. “We will stay on the conservative side to give everybody on board plenty of space,” he told Urban Milwaukee. The upper deck on each boat is outdoors, and the lower deck will have fully open windows. “There is a massive amount of air circulation.”

The hope is that corporate events continue to ramp up, but bookings are still down from prior years. “We are pretty happy with it, things have kind of picked up in terms of bookings,” said Chianelli.

Those looking for a cruise can learn more via MBL’s Facebook page, website or via phone (414-294-9450).

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