'It was like a dream': Viking Octantis cruise ship arrives at Port Milwaukee, marking start of cruise season

NOW: ’It was like a dream’: Viking Octantis cruise ship arrives at Port Milwaukee, marking start of cruise season

MILWAUKEE (CBS 58) -- Port Milwaukee welcomed their first cruise ship of 2023 to the heavy lift dock Thursday.

It's the end to a trip that began nearly 5,700 miles from the Brew City and brought passengers from salt water to fresh water across the globe.

Milwaukee marked the end of a two-month long voyage for the 665-foot-long Viking Octantis, with 64 days of excursions.

"The ship was just stunning. It was beautiful, it was like a dream. I mean, really a dream," said passenger, Cathy Priem.

Priem and her partner, Shelli Marquardt, live in Hartland. The Octantis' voyage was a check on their bucket list.

"We've been together 27 years, and we've been to six continents already, and Antarctica was the only one we hadn't been to," Marquardt said. So, this incorporated Antarctica, and brought us right home to our hometown area."

Priem and Marquardt described their venture to the arctic circle as "otherworldly."

"Being within a few hundred feet of whales, having penguins porpoise alongside of you - they're adorable - in their natural habitat. That was just an amazing and wonderful thing," Priem said.

It wasn't all icy. The trip began in Argentina, visiting nine countries along the way.

"The people that you meet, the different cultures that you experience, the things you see, you just can't replace those," Marquardt said.

The last two days of the trip are in Milwaukee.

This summer, an estimated 12,000 cruise passengers will visit the Brew City.

"This adds another opportunity for Milwaukee to continue to flex its muscles, as the number one tourist destination and economic heartbeat of the state of Wisconsin," said Mayor Cavalier Johnson.

The ship's grand arrival through the Hoan Bridge officially marked the start of the city's cruise season.

"I just almost felt like crying, it was a weird experience of, wow, I'm so excited to be home, and I'm so proud of our city," Priem said.

30 more ships are scheduled to arrive or depart at Port Milwaukee this season.

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