Port Milwaukee welcomes 1st cruise ship of 2024 season

MILWAUKEE - Port Milwaukee welcomed the Viking Octantis on Wednesday, May 1 – the first cruise ship to call on the city for the 2024 season.

This marks the third consecutive year that Octantis has arrived as the inaugural cruise ship. Port Milwaukee expects another strong cruising season in 2024, with 27 visits from seven vessels between early May and mid-October. Port officials estimate over 12,000 global passengers will visit Milwaukee this season.

Viking Octantis, its sister Viking Polaris, and the Pearl Seas vessel Pearl Mist will account for Milwaukee’s early summer cruise visits, Port Milwaukee said. The port expects a significant increase in cruise vessel traffic in September as passengers set their sights on the region’s fall colors and fair weather.

<div>Viking Octantis</div>
Viking Octantis

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"The Great Lakes cruise industry is a big contributor to our region’s tourism," Mayor Cavalier Johnson said in a statement. "Cruise passengers continue to see why Milwaukee is a highly desirable destination."

<div>Viking Octantis</div>
Viking Octantis

Milwaukee earned a place on National Geographic's Best of the World list for 2023, the city said, an honor that strengthened the excitement for the cruising season and set the stage for another successful year.

Port Milwaukee carried the momentum from a record-breaking 2022 into the 2023 cruise season by welcoming the inaugural visits of the Hanseatic Inspiration and Viking Polaris. The number of unique cruise vessels that visited Milwaukee climbed to nine, the highest in any season.

"Today marks the official start of the 2024 cruise season and a great day for tourism in Milwaukee," Jackie Carter, Port Milwaukee's director, said in a statement. "Each cruise visit results from the hard work between the Port and our local, regional, and global partners. We look forward to warmly welcoming thousands of passengers who will visit our community throughout the season."

<div>Viking Octantis arrives on May 1, first cruise ship of 2024 season (Courtesy: Port Milwaukee)</div>
Viking Octantis arrives on May 1, first cruise ship of 2024 season (Courtesy: Port Milwaukee)

The public is encouraged to stay up-to-date on cruise ship arrivals and departures throughout the 2024 season by using Port Milwaukee’s virtual vessel tracker.