Great Lakes cruise ship Octantis arrives in Port Milwaukee

The Great Lakes cruise ship, Viking Octantis, arrived in Port Milwaukee on Friday, May 6 – to a true Milwaukee welcome.

"This is our first time in Milwaukee, but we’re getting a nice reception," said Tim and Amy Hague, who live in Texas. "I’m from the Midwest. So I said ‘We hit hometown. They’re proud. And they’re here to welcome us, and it’s really great’." 

The cruise ship on Friday made its final stop on an eight-day adventure through the Great Lakes.

Great Lakes cruise ship Viking Octantis arrives in Port Milwaukee

"This is a part of our country I’ve never seen before. It's absolutely beautiful. The Great Lakes are amazing," said Rosalee Smith from California.

This visit is the first of many cruises that will dock this summer – bringing more than 10,000 people to Milwaukee.

"As word gets out, I anticipate that even more travelers will cruise to America's 'Fresh Coast,' to our city, to the jewel of the Midwest, will cruise to Milwaukee," said Milwaukee Mayor Cavalier Johnson.

That means plenty of revenue. The estimated economic impact for cruises is Milwaukee is expected to be between $2.8 million and $4 million annually. 

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"They are spending money locally and the even more important thing is theyre falling in love with the city and because of that, they will return," said Theresa Nemetz of Great Lakes Shores Excursions.

Great Lakes cruise ship Viking Octantis arrives in Port Milwaukee

Operated by Viking Cruises, the Viking Octantis can carry up to 378 passengers on voyages throughout the Great Lakes. The 2022 cruising season represents the first time this ship will designate Milwaukee as an embarkation and debarkation port for the company’s itineraries.

The release says 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. 

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Port Milwaukee recently received $3.5 million in Capital Tourism grant funding from the State of Wisconsin to build new Seawaymax infrastructure at South Shore Cruise Dock.