Viking is joining the growing number of cruise lines to set sail on the Great Lakes.
Three new eight-day Viking cruises will explore the Great Lakes starting in 2022, Viking announced Wednesday. The cruises will all either start or end at the Port of Milwaukee. It's all-new territory for the upscale cruise line known for trips on rivers in Europe.
“The Great Lakes are a phenomenal destination in the world and they are currently underserved (by cruise lines),” Chairman of Viking Torstein Hagen said during a presentation announcing the new trips.
This will dramatically increase the number of cruise ship stops in Milwaukee. About 20 Viking trips will start or end at the Port of Milwaukee during the 2022 season, according to the City of Milwaukee.
The Port of Milwaukee has already seen significant growth.
The port has scheduled 14 cruise ship stops for the 2020 season, said Jeff Fleming, the port's media specialist. That's up from 10 cruise ships stops at the port last summer – the busiest in recent years. Previously, the port had two to four cruise ship stops each season.
"We are eager to show off our cultural assets, our natural beauty, and our welcoming spirit,” Mayor Tom Barrett said in a news release. “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.”
Cruise ships that stop in Milwaukee most often dock near Discovery World on Lake Michigan and passengers can go on daylong excursions to learn about Milwaukee history, culture, economy and environment.
Viking is in consultation with Milwaukee Food and City Tours to conduct its excursions, according to the news release.
“Our guests are curious explorers," Viking's Hagen said in a news release about the new expeditions. "They want to continue traveling with us to familiar and iconic destinations, but they would also like to travel further."
Viking is introducing new vessels for the Great Lakes cruises that are currently under construction. The Viking Octantis and Viking Polaris will travel to the Great Lakes, Antartica and the Artice, hosting 378 guests in 189 staterooms. The more than 670-foot boat will be the largest cruise ship on the Great Lakes, according to the city.
"Visit bald eagle and bear habitats that abut charming frontier towns in this remote region of North America; and pass between Lake Superior and Lake Huron via the impressive Soo Locks," says the description of the new Undiscovered Great Lakes eight-day cruise between Thunder Bay and Milwaukee. Prices for the cruises between May and September 2022 start at $6,695 a person.
Viking will also sail eight-day Great Lakes Explorer cruises between Milwaukee and Thunder Bay and a Niagara and the Great Lakes cruise from Toronto to Milwaukee. Those two cruises start at $6,495 and $5,995 per person. Reservations for the 2022 cruises are open.
Viking in 2020 has a fleet of 79 vessels cruising on rivers, oceans and lakes around the globe. Viking started with European river cruises in 1997.
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This article originally appeared on Milwaukee Journal Sentinel: Viking adding Great Lakes cruises that will start or end in Milwaukee