DULUTH -- Vacationers taking a cruise on the Great Lakes will be able to visit Duluth this year.

Duluth Economic Development Authority Spokesman Chris Fleege says Viking Cruises is planning eight day visits in 2022 starting in May and running through September.

Three cruise lines were planning stops in Duluth last year, but they were all canceled due to COVID concerns.

For this season, the ship will have to anchor offshore and water taxis will shuttle the passengers to land. That's because Duluth is making a major investment in its sea wall near the Duluth Entertainment and Convention Center so the ships will be able to dock there starting next year.

Fleege says the impact on the visits stretches beyond just the Canal Park area.

It won't just impact the Canal Park area, it really will be a broader impact.  People could take day trips over to Glensheen, they could go up onto the Iron Range and see the mining operations, or visit a forestry center.

The 400 to 450 passenger ship means 2,500 guests will be touring Duluth this summer.

Fleege says once they are able to start the itineraries in Duluth the economic impact on the region will be huge.

When the trips begin to originate out of Duluth, that becomes a much bigger impact.  It's like $2.1 million to $3 million a year.  When it really becomes popular like 40 visits a year across multiple cruise lines it could be up to $8 million a year.

Fleege says starting in 2023 Viking has committed to having at least four trips originating out of Duluth when that sea wall reconstruction is complete. He says Duluth is also transforming the Harbor Drive Plaza area to make it more pedestrian-friendly.

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This year, the day visits will be primarily early in the week, so they won't impact the already busy weekend periods. Fleege says the ship stops in Duluth will be timed so they don't conflict with their already large events like Grandma's Marathon or the Blues Fest.

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