Recent efforts to attract passenger cruise ships to the Great Lakes and Port Milwaukee are paying off.
International cruise line Viking Cruises is launching a new Great Lakes division that is expected to make approximately 20 port calls and bring 8,000 tourists to Milwaukee annually, starting in 2022.
Viking Expeditions also includes trips to Antarctica and the Arctic. The new division's Great Lakes voyages will run from April through September. Booking for all cruises is now open to the public.Milwaukee is a turnaround port for the line's 'Undiscovered Great Lakes' and 'Great Lakes Explorer' routes, which travel between Thunder Bay, Ontario and Milwaukee over eight days. Prices for those cruises start at about $6,500.
Its eight-day 'Niagara & The Great Lakes' route travels from Toronto to Milwaukee for at least $5,995.
“Milwaukee is thrilled to have Viking Expeditions call on our city," said Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett. "We are eager to show off our cultural assets, our natural beauty, and our welcoming spirit. The cruise passengers will certainly add to the tourism portion of our economy, and the marketing efforts of Viking Expeditions will show the world many of the positive aspects of Milwaukee.”
Viking has been in talks with Milwaukee Food and City Tours about shore excursions for its Milwaukee visitors, according to a press release from Port Milwaukee.
The announcement comes after a record setting year for cruise ship traffic at Port Milwaukee. The 2019 season wrapped in Octoberwith 10 passenger ship visits, bringing 3,214 visitors to the area. The port expects fourteen vessel visits with more than 4,000 passengers in 2020.
As part of its North American expansion, Viking is rolling out two new vessels. Construction is currently underway on the new 670-foot-long 'Viking Octantis' for cruises in the Great Lakes and Antarctica. With 189 rooms and capacity for 378 passengers and 250 crew members, the vessel is the largest cruise ship on the Great Lakes, the company said.
Viking Polaris, a second vessel of the same size will be used for cruises in Antarctica and the Arctic.
Viking's ocean and river cruise lines currently operate a fleet of 79 vessels.
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