Viking Octantis arrives in Milwaukee as first cruise ship of the season

MILWAUKEE (CBS 58) -- On Friday, May 6, Milwaukee welcomed the Viking Octantis that boarded about 300 passengers. It's marked as the first cruise ship to dock in the city as the start of the cruise season. Milwaukee is expected to welcome 600 passengers over the weekend.

"It's just been great all the way through the great lakes," said cruise passenger Laura Herrage.

Laura Herrage and her husband George Herrage said this was their first time on a cruise. The couple was one of hundreds of couples who docked in Milwaukee and made their way through the city with planned excursions.

Local businesses are already experiencing the perk of the start of the cruise season. Adam Tindall- Schlicht, director of Port Milwaukee, said the cruise business has been only growing.

"Cruise activity in the great lakes is experiencing exponential growth," said Tindall-Schlicht.

He said they're expecting about 10,000 passengers to touch down in Milwaukee in 2022, that number just about 1,000 in 2018.

The newly built Viking Octantis is 665 feet long and can carry 378 guests and 256 crew members at a time. This marks its first passage around the Great Lakes this year.

The cruise ship offers a variety of services, but Tindall-Schlicht said the biggest attraction is the city.

"But the real attractions for our passengers are awaiting them when they enter our great city," said Tindall-Schlicht.

Port Milwaukee is collaborating with Visit Milwaukee and Milwaukee Food and City Tours to help show incoming passengers what Milwaukee has to offer.

"For the last week I've had the chance to travel with the ship in other cities along the Great Lakes. Not only are we bringing passengers to Milwaukee to experience this amazing city, but we're also helping to plan the short excursions in other cities," said Theresa Nemetz, Founder and Chief Experience Officer of Milwaukee Food and City Tours.

Several city leaders like Mayor Cavalier Johnson and Alderwoman of the 14th district Marina Demitrijevic were a part of the event. 2 to 4 million dollars is expected as a result of the economic impact of this year's cruise business.

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