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Port Milwaukee Welcomes the First Cruise Ship of 2024

For Immediate Release: May 1, 2024Viking Octantis 2024
Contact: Madison Goldbeck, [email protected], (414) 708-3820


MILWAUKEE –  Port Milwaukee welcomed the Viking Octantis on Wednesday, May 1, as 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 being made by seven vessels between early May and mid-October. Port officials estimate over 12,000 global passengers will visit Milwaukee this season.

Viking Octantis, sister Viking Polaris, and the Pearl Seas vessel Pearl Mist will account for Milwaukee’s early summer cruise visits. 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.

“The Great Lakes cruise industry is a big contributor to our region’s tourism,” Mayor Cavalier Johnson said. “Cruise passengers continue to see why Milwaukee is a highly desirable destination. As we kick off the 2024 cruising season, Port Milwaukee continues to prove its role as an economic engine for the City of Milwaukee and the State of Wisconsin.”

Milwaukee earned a place on National Geographic's Best of the World list for 2023, 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. Learn more about the 2023 Great Lakes cruise season through Port Milwaukee’s Annual Report.

“Today marks the official start of the 2024 cruise season and a great day for tourism in Milwaukee,” Jackie Q. Carter, Director of Port Milwaukee, said. “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.”

Port Milwaukee is dedicated to promoting the passenger cruise business in Milwaukee and throughout the Great Lakes. Port Milwaukee founded the Milwaukee Cruise Collaborative, a local group promoting the city as a cruise destination. The Collaborative, which includes a cross-section of the local hospitality industry, has planned, promoted, and prepared for increased Great Lakes passengers.

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, available online here.

Port Milwaukee is an economic entity of City government governed by the seven-member Board of Harbor Commissioners, a panel appointed by the Mayor and confirmed by the Common Council. It administers operations on the 467 acres that make up the Port. It promotes regional shipping and commerce by providing access to domestic and international ships, rail, and over-the-road transportation.