The 665-foot Viking Octantis docked at Port Milwaukee for the first time earlier this month, marking the start of the 2022 Great Lakes cruise season.
The vessel’s arrival was the first of 33 expected port calls by cruise ships this summer, bringing more than 10,000 visitors and estimated $1.8 million in direct revenue to Milwaukee. That’s up from 10 port calls and 3,214 visitors in 2019, before the COVID-19 pandemic halted all passenger cruise activity for nearly two years.
Switzerland-based Viking’s newly constructed Octantis holds up to 378 guests and 256 crew members as the largest cruise ship to sail the Great Lakes. Upon disembarking at the City Heavy Lift Dock, its first group of 307 passengers boarded buses for a day of local sightseeing with Milwaukee Food & City Tours.
“People around the globe are clearly taking notice of our city,” said Mayor Cavalier Johnson at a press conference celebrating the vessel’s arrival. “The growing passenger numbers, they speak for themselves. These international cruises are offering more freshwater tourists a glimpse into what makes the city of Milwaukee so special.”
As a turnaround port, Milwaukee was the final destination of the group’s eight-day voyage from Toronto, but it was the first port of call for the next set of passengers who embarked two days later