New Viking Expeditions' Ship to Sail From Port Milwaukee
Viking Cruises has unveiled its entry into the Great Lakes cruise market beginning in 2022.
The Viking Expeditions itineraries on the Great Lakes are planned from April through September with approximately 20 voyages that start or conclude at Port Milwaukee. More than 8,000 passengers from around the world are expected to board or disembark annually.
Viking is building the Great Lakes’ largest cruise ship for its Expeditions itineraries. The ship will be over 670 feet in length, carrying 378 passengers and 250 crew members. Viking Expeditions will begin sailing in January 2022 with its first vessel, Viking Octantis, embarking on voyages to Antarctica and North America’s Great Lakes. A second expedition vessel, Viking Polaris, will debut in August 2022, sailing to Antarctica and the Arctic. The new Polar Class 6 vessels will feature 189 staterooms. Both ships are currently under construction and will be delivered in Norway by Fincantieri’s VARD.
There is increasing interest in cruising on the Great Lakes, and Milwaukee has seen significant growth in the number of passengers coming to the city aboard ships that regularly stop at the port. In 2019, there were 10 cruise ship stops at Port Milwaukee with 3,214 passenger visits. During this coming cruise season, the port anticipates 14 vessel visits with more than 4,000 passengers.
Milwaukee Port Director Adam Schlicht said support from local members of the Milwaukee Cruise Collaborative has been instrumental in making the port attractive. The Cruise Collaborative is a coordinated effort of local hospitality and tourism interests along with operations and services providers that support cruise ship visits to Milwaukee. Viking has been in consultation with a local company, Milwaukee Food and City Tours, about shore excursions for its Milwaukee visitors.
“Milwaukee is thrilled to have Viking Expeditions call on our city. We are eager to show off our cultural assets, our natural beauty and our welcoming spirit,” Mayor Tom Barrett said. “The cruise passengers will certainly add to the tourism portion of our economy, and the marketing efforts of Viking Expeditions will show the world many of the positive aspects of Milwaukee.”
Viking says the vessels' arrival to the Great Lakes will bring the newest and most modern vessels ever to explore this region of North America and will mark a major commitment to local tourism and economic development for the states of Michigan, Minnesota and Wisconsin, as well as the Canadian province of Ontario.
“We will usher in a new era of comfortable exploration in the heart of North America,” said Torstein Hagen, Chairman of Viking. “Our guests are curious explorers. They want to continue traveling with us to familiar and iconic destinations, but they would also like to travel further. We began as Viking River Cruises; then we evolved into Viking Cruises with the addition of ocean cruises. Today we stand singularly as Viking, offering destination-focused voyages on more than 20 rivers, five oceans and five Great Lakes, visiting 403 ports in 95 countries and on all seven continents.”
Viking has partnered with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), whose scientists will join expeditions in the Great Lakes to conduct research focused on changes in the region’s weather, climate and ecosystems. NOAA scientists may also offer lectures about the Great Lakes’ unique environment to Viking guests during these voyages.