Last updated on May 13th, 2022 at 05:06 pm
The 2022 cruise season officially kicked off Friday with the first-ever arrival of the Viking Octantis cruise ship at Port Milwaukee. The newly constructed 665-foot-long ship can hold up to 634 people — 378 guests and 256 crew members.
The ship’s arrival was the first of 33 expected cruise ship port calls that will bring more than 10,000 passengers to Milwaukee this summer. That is compared to the 10 stops made by cruise ships in Milwaukee during the 2019 season, before Great Lakes cruising halted for two years as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Viking is now offering three Great Lakes cruises that include Milwaukee, one from Toronto to Milwaukee starting at $5,995, one from Thunder Bay, Canada to Milwaukee starting at $6,695 and one from Milwaukee to Thunder Bay starting at $6,495. A few of the Thunder Bay to Milwaukee cruises are already sold out.
Adam Tindall-Schlicht, director of Port Milwaukee, previously told BizTimes Media passenger cruise traffic will generate upwards of $1.8 million in direct revenue to the local economy this year “and every year going forward as the industry continues to grow.”
Viking Cruises will utilize the Port’s City Heavy Lift Dock this season as their port-of-call location. The South Shore Cruise Dock, located immediately east of the Lake Express High Speed Ferry terminal, will serve as the future port-of-call for vessels the size of the Viking Octantis. Port Milwaukee recently received $3.5 million in Capital Tourism grant funding from the state to build new Seawaymax infrastructure at South Shore Cruise Dock.
“Port Milwaukee continues to capitalize on increased interest in passenger cruising on the Great Lakes and increased interest in Milwaukee as the turnaround hub for passengers to start or end their voyages,” said Tindall-Schlicht. “In the coming years, thousands of passengers will visit our city, stay in local hotels, dine in our restaurants, and enjoy all the great things Milwaukee offers.”
Several organizations are helping promote the passenger cruise business in Milwaukee and throughout the Great Lakes. Port Milwaukee founded the Milwaukee Cruise Collaborative, which promotes the city as a cruise destination. The Collaborative, which includes a cross section of the local hospitality industry, has planned, promoted and prepared for increased Great Lakes cruising passengers. VISIT Milwaukee is also assisting with promotion efforts.