Cruise Ship Port


Well known as home to our region’s tall ships, Discovery Pier is also a certified cruise port. With the required facility security plan and staff in place, we efficiently accept your disembarking cruise boat passengers with professionalism and the utmost attention to customer service. Vessels of up to 250 feet long will be accepted on the east wall of the Pier beginning in 2020.  Larger ships can anchor just off the Pier and ferry passengers in to our floating docks. Tour buses can drive out on the Pier. The Discovery Pier joined the Great Lakes Cruising Coalition in March 2019.

We have big plans for the Discovery Center and Discovery Pier and we have only just begun. Click here to learn more!

Find us at:   44°47’10.6″N, 85°38’07.4″W   a/k/a    44.786283, -85.635387

Pier Contact: Matt McDonough  231-715-5200

Shore Excursions and Activities Contact: Sarah Barnhard, TC Tourism 231-995-3910

Discovery Pier Port Charges and Rates


Cruising into Discovery Pier

Cruise ship & schooner
MS Hamburg from the bow of the Schooner Manitou

Traverse City is located at the south end of Grand Traverse Bay. A slow cruise down this long narrow bay provides superb views of cherry orchards and vineyards along both shorelines. Traverse City and the surrounding region are immensely popular tourist destinations for people throughout the Midwest, across the country, and all over the world. The area is known for its scenic beauty, outdoor recreation, wine production, fine dining, great shopping, and maritime history. Discovery Pier is home to the largest fleet of tall ships on the American side of the Great Lakes. The big schooners that played such an important role in the history of the Great Lakes are an exciting part of Traverse City’s landscape. The Schooner Manitou offers regular two-hour excursions and can be booked as a special charter for your passengers. Two others are “floating classrooms” where your passengers can learn about the area’s aquatic environment and maritime history. Special dockside tours can be arranged. In addition to the tall ships at Discovery Pier, there are two 1858 lighthouses less than forty miles away—Grand Traverse Lighthouse (35 miles) and the Point Betsie Light (39 miles). A quick ride away, downtown Traverse City is quaint, walkable, and offers more than 150 enjoyable shops, galleries and restaurants. The Dennos Museum Center and the Music House Museum are distinctive cultural attractions. There are also several charming villages that provide unique shopping opportunities within easy reach.

Sleeping Bear Dunes

Dune overlookNo cruise itinerary would be complete without offering passengers an excursion to the Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore. In 2011, it was voted “The Most Beautiful Place in America” by viewers of ABC’s Good Morning America. It never fails to awe visitors. Poised more than 400 feet above the vibrant waters of Lake Michigan, they will feel like they are standing on top of the world when they visit the western-most overlook. Energetic visitors often make it a special point to test the Dune Climb, a challenging but rewarding part of the Sleeping Bear experience. Those who make it to the top can enjoy inspiring views of Glen Lake. Even visitors who skip the 260-foot climb will enjoy watching the kids and others running down the largest moving sand dune in the world. The park’s main visitor center is a great first stop for any excursion to the Dunes. It contains exhibits and displays that provide a wealth of information about the park and the natural and human history of the area. The visitor center also contains books, maps, postcards, games, and other fun and educational items.

Traverse Wine Coast

No more than six miles from Discovery Pier, there are 25 different wine destinations, each with its own character. Tasting rooms range from intimate, to rustic and folksy, to sleek and modern. Knowledgeable staff are eager to pour wines reflective of the local terroir. The region is renowned for cool-climate wines grown within diverse microclimates and uniquely suited for a variety of wine grapes. Among the internationally acclaimed varietals are Riesling, Pinot Grigio, Chardonnay, Pinot Noir, and Cabernet Franc. The area was named #3 of the best wine regions in the US (USA Today, Oct. 2018), and one of the top 10 Cities for Wine Snobs (Travel Channel, Jan. 2017).

Cruise Ship Tracker

The map below will show the real-time location of Passenger Ships that call in the Great Lakes around the world. Zoom in to the Great Lakes to see where ships are at the moment.