The 2022 cruise season officially kicked off on Friday with the first-ever arrival of the octanti viking cruise ship in Port Milwaukee. The newly built 665ft long vessel can accommodate up to 628 people – 378 guests and 256 crew.
The ship’s arrival was the first of 33 scheduled cruise ship stops that will bring more than 10,000 passengers to Milwaukee this summer. That’s compared to the 10 cruise ship calls made in Milwaukee during the 2019 season, before Great Lakes cruising was halted for two years as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Viking now offers three Great Lakes cruises, including Milwaukee, one of Toronto to Milwaukee from $5,995, one from Thunder Bay, Canada to Milwaukee from $6,695 and one from Milwaukee to Thunder Bay starting at $6,495. A few of the cruises from Thunder Bay to Milwaukee are already sold out.
Adam Tindall Schlicht, director of Port Milwaukee, previously told BizTimes Media Cruise passenger traffic will generate more than $1.8 million in direct revenue for the local economy this year “and every year in the future as the industry continues to grow.”
Viking Cruises will use the port’s City Heavy Lift Dock this season as a stopover location. The South Shore cruise pier, located immediately east of the Lake Express high-speed ferry terminal, will serve as a future port of call for ships the size of the Viking Octantis. Port Milwaukee recently received $3.5 million in grants from the state’s Capital Tourism to build new Seawaymax infrastructure at South Shore Cruise Dock.
“Port Milwaukee continues to capitalize on increased interest in Great Lakes passenger cruises and increased interest in Milwaukee as a hub for passengers to begin or end their journeys,” Tindall-Schlicht said. . “In the years to come, thousands of passengers will visit our city, stay at local hotels, dine at our restaurants, and experience all the great things Milwaukee has to offer.”
Several organizations help promote the passenger cruise industry in Milwaukee and the Great Lakes. Port Milwaukee founded the Milwaukee Cruise Collaborative, which promotes the city as a cruise destination. The collaboration, which includes a cross-section of the local hospitality industry, has planned, promoted and prepared for increased Great Lakes cruise passenger numbers. VISIT Milwaukee also participates in promotional efforts.