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Years in the making: First cruise ship arrives in Green Bay

By Press Times Staff

GREEN BAY – The much-anticipated arrival of Green Bay’s first-ever cruise ship came to fruition Thursday, June 16, as American Queen Voyages’ Ocean Navigator docked at Leicht Park – the first of two overnight visits to Titletown this summer.

“City of Green Bay officials have done a fantastic job ensuring the dock wall at Leicht Park received the necessary maintenance to successfully welcome these long-anticipated cruise ships to Green Bay,” Mayor Eric Genrich said.

Brown County officials ensured the channel from the Bay of Green Bay into the Fox River would be able to accommodate passenger ships.

The government entities, along with Discover Green Bay, The Port of Green Bay, Downtown Green Bay, Inc., On Broadway, Inc. and C&M Presents have been working to bring cruise ships to the region for several years.

The community-wide effort was unfortunately quelled temporarily by the COVID-19 pandemic.

Those involved are excited it has finally happened.

“It’s really exciting,” Sue Broberg, owner of C&M Presents, a destination management company, said. “We’ve been working on this for six-plus years. Between COVID and sales of the cruise ships, and things like that. So, it’s really nice that it’s finally here.”

The 286-foot ship, formerly known as Victory II, was built in 2004 and flies under the flag of the Bahamas with 84 crew members.

The Ocean Navigator is the first-ever cruise ship to come to Green Bay. Submitted Photo

Green Bay is a stop on the American Queen Voyages Lakeside Treasures Chicago Round-trip Tour.

From Green Bay, the cruise heads to Holland, Michigan before returning to Chicago.

The 16-day excursion, which travels through Lake Michigan, Lake Huron, Lake Superior and the Bay of Green Bay, arrived in Green Bay June 16 with 108 passengers, plus crew.

The June 30 ship will carry 132 passengers plus crew.

The ship docks in the port for 24-hours each time, leaving at 7 a.m. the following morning.

Both Genrich and County Executive Troy Streckenbach greeted passengers as they disembarked Thursday.

“Tourism in Brown County is a major economic driver,” Streckenbach said. “We have always proudly welcomed visitors through the terminals at Green Bay’s Austin Straubel International Airport, and we are excited to now offer another option for visitors to enter our community.”

Discover Green Bay staff welcomed passengers upon their arrival using the new Mobile Visitor Center with tourism representatives stationed at Leicht Park to offer a hospitable entry into Green Bay.

Representatives shared information about the community for the passengers’ free afternoon – which included tours of the Neville Public Museum and, of course, Lambeau Field.

“First impressions are extremely important,” Cameron Teske, vice president of visitor experiences at Discover Green Bay, said.

Broberg said many of the passengers are European and may have never been to Wisconsin. “After many years of planning, wondering when these ships would actually arrive, (it’s) great to see these ships finally coming down the Fox River,” she said.

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