Jeramey Jannene

Cruise Ship Leaves Milwaukee Twice

Ship gets as far north as Mequon, then returns to port due to a missing crew member.

By - May 9th, 2022 12:31 pm
The Viking Octantis docked in Milwaukee. Photo by Jeramey Jannene.

The Viking Octantis docked in Milwaukee. Photo by Jeramey Jannene.

The Viking Octantis, the largest and newest cruise ship on the Great Lakes, spent extra time in Milwaukee this weekend.

The ship arrived in Milwaukee mid-day Friday to great fanfare. And as part of the city’s role as a turn-around port, it was scheduled to leave Sunday with a new set of passengers. Early Sunday afternoon the ship was pulling out of the port of Milwaukee en route to Mackinac, Michigan.

But after making it to a point as far north as Mequon, the 666-foot-long Octantis turned around and headed back into Milwaukee’s port. The ship is scheduled to return to Milwaukee nine times this year, but with weeks, not hours, between each trip.

“On May 8th U.S. Customs and Border Protection was notified by Viking Cruise Lines that a crewmember failed to report to the vessel for departure. No further details are available,” said a Customs and Border Protection spokesperson.

In addition to accommodating 378 passengers, the ship is configured to hold up to 250 crew members. Dozens of crew members were spotted cleaning, prepping and painting the vessel during a media tour Friday.

The ship’s workforce is led by captain Anders Steen.

By 7:30 p.m. Sunday evening, the vessel was departing Milwaukee for the second time that day. It sailed under the Hoan Bridge and out into Lake Michigan. At the time of publication, it was approaching Mackinac Island.

Trips from Milwaukee end in the Canadian ports of Toronto or Thunder Bay, but along the way the vessel stops in a number of ports and passengers have a choice of multiple excursions.

The all-inclusive, eight-day trips start at $5,995.

The Octantis is a Seawaymax-size vessel, which means it is the largest possible ship that can still fit through the St. Lawrence Seaway locks connecting the Great Lakes with the Atlantic Ocean.

The city is rebuilding its South Shore Cruise Dock to accommodate the larger vessels, but for 2022 the Octantis will dock at the Heavy Lift Dock in the inner harbor.

In addition to Viking, other carriers are expected to call on Milwaukee 23 times this year. It’s part of what the city hopes to be a record-breaking year with more than 10,000 cruise passengers visiting Milwaukee.

For more details on the Octantis, including photos aboard the ship, see our feature from Friday.

Viking Cruises did not respond to a request for comment by the time of publication.

On The Ship

Press Conference

Categories: Transportation, Weekly

4 thoughts on “Transportation: Cruise Ship Leaves Milwaukee Twice”

  1. NickR says:

    I’d be very interested in an article covering the pollution impacts of having these cruise ships dock here. Cruise ships are known for emitting a high amount of very dirty exhaust.

  2. NieWiederKrieg says:

    @NickR – The Viking Octantis has four 6,400 hp diesel electric engines that supply electric power to a gearless steerable Azipod propulsion system (and the rest of the ship), according to Wikipedia… The engines are extremely fuel efficient which cuts down on greenhouse gas emissions…

  3. Jeramey Jannene says:

    @NickR – My understanding is that US and Canadian regulations on the Great Lakes make it virtually impossible to use the “sludge”-like fuel that ocean-going ships use. The sulphur content in particular is highly regulated. I will inquire further next time I see a port employee.

  4. Duane says:

    I also heard that the engine exhaust has a nice lilac smell added to it! So beautiful, definitely great for the environment. (But gas stoves are truly awful!)

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