Some argue that the Seattle cruise ship ports made all the piers in Seattle confusing. But has the cruise industry in the northwestern corridor has ruined Seattle. Others would argue that the cruise ship industry has bolstered the state-wide economy and prevented it from going bankrupt. Compared to California, Washington is doing extremely well. What’s your take on it?
But is any of that really going to matter to you if you just want to take a cruise to Alaska? Probably not.
In Seattle, there’s essentially three major ports that operate cruise ships. Technically, there’s only two, but the third one is slated for opening in 2022-23.
The 3 Cruise Ship Terminals Near Downtown Seattle
The three cruise ship terminals in Seattle are as follows:
- Bell Street Cruise Terminal at Pier 66
- Smith Cove Cruise Terminal at Pier 91
- Terminal 46 (Not to be confused with an actual cruise ship terminal.)
You’ll notice that the first two cruise ship terminals operate from “piers.” That’s because those piers existed before the cruise ship industries (Princess, Royal Caribbean, etc.) entered that area. In fact, in 1999, only 6,000 individuals enjoyed cruises leaving Seattle. Now, there’s over 1.2 million people annually.
Bell Street Cruise Terminal at Pier 66
If you’re interested in Pier 66, you’re probably in the market for a cruise to Alaska. You need to know what Seattle cruise ship operates from this port. They are:
It’s the smaller pier in Seattle and operates smaller vessels. Even though there’s three listed above, Norwegian Cruise Lines (NCL) operates two vessels there, as well as Oceania Regatta. It is easily situated at the end of Bell Street and offers some excellent amenities near the entrance so that you can stock up on all your supplies before leaving town.
The history of Pier 66 dates as far back as the late 1800’s but of course goes far beyond that when Native Americans were using this port for their canoes. A full detailed history can be found here.
Smith Cove Cruise Terminal at Pier 91
Pier 91 caters to all of the other major cruise lines. It’s gotten so busy on Pier 91 that the Port of Seattle has begun building/designing a new terminal at Terminal 46. The cruise ship lines that operate from this terminal are:
- Carnival Legend 7-Day Alaskan
- Celebrity Solstice 7-Day Alaskan
- Holland America Amsterdam 7 and 14-Day Alaskan
- America Eurodam 7-Day Alaskan (Also Holland)
- Holland America Oosterdam 7-Day Alaskan
- Ovation of the Seven Seas 7-Day Alaskan (Royal Caribbean)
- Ruby Princess 7-Day Alaskan
- Star Princess 7-Day Alaskan
Ground transportation to the terminal is a mess, but luckily there are black car alternatives that you can utilize so you don’t have to pay for parking. At last count, parking is $24/day. That’s an added expense that you can save on if you book a private car from Sea-Tac, or use an Uber.
Operating eight different vessels from this Seattle cruise ship port makes it extremely busy. Arrive early and do your research beforehand for places to eat nearby and ground transport arrangements.
Smith Cove has an interesting history, being named after one of the first whites to settle in that area back in 1853. His name was Henry A. Smith and moved to Seattle form Ohio. The United States battleship USS Missouri docked there in 1954 as well.
Terminal 46 – Cruise Terminal Development
If you’re planning on taking an Alaskan cruise in 2022, there’s a high probability that you’re going to be leaving from Terminal 46 in Seattle. This means that you, the individual passenger, just took jobs away from the cargo ship industry.
You heard right. You actually just stole someone’s job.
Well, that’s not entirely true, but the big debate in Seattle right now is if Terminal 46 should even be used for a Seattle cruise ship port at all. It’s positioning makes it perfect for an urban port because it sits at the end of King Street. King Street is a major urban vein running through downtown Seattle.
According to the Port of Seattle, the public debates and chances to publicly comment on the scope was closed on November 27, 2019. There were three meetings open to the public to decry or defend this monstrosity-of-a-port. In the photo above, you can see that the Port of Seattle plans to move (or centralize) the cargo ship docks at one end of Terminal 46; therefore, the Seattle cruise ship ports could expand.
There are still some discussions that could/should take place about the terminal. Regardless of your intent on coming to Seattle, or even Alaska, there’s plenty of alternative attractions in the city.
Leave a comment below to further the discussion about Terminal 46 or any of the other ports mentioned in this article. We’d love to hear your thoughts.