Cruise season returns to Seattle


Travelers wait to board the Norwegian Bliss at Pier 66. | Photo by SEAtoday Staff

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Cruise season is back, baby. After a couple of years of drastically reduced sailing schedules, the Port of Seattle looks re-energized after the first cruise ship of the season left Pier 66 on Saturday. It’s just the beginning of a full-fledged season, with about 300 sailings scheduled through October (compared to only 81 in 2021).

The 600,000 tourists projected to pass through Seattle this year will mean that downtown areas get a little more crowded than we’re now used to — but don’t groan at them just yet. The industry brings in roughly $850 million total to the local economy — and we do mean local.

Let’s break that down.

Aboat that cash

Each sailing brings $4 million into Seattle.

The most obvious beneficiaries are Pike Place and Belltown businesses when travelers explore the city before or after their journey — the Port estimates visitors spend about $1,500 each with local biz. Like Shug’s Soda Fountain and Ice Cream owner Colleen Wilkie said, “Having the cruise industry back in port is such a relief.”

But the money flows deeper into the mainland than that. Each cruise ship needs to stock up on necessities before heading back out. Fresh flower arrangements, literally tons of ice cream (we wanna see that storage room), piano tuners, fuel, and mechanics are all sourced from local businesses like Darigold and Krainick Dairy, LLC.

And we can’t forget about taxes — every year, approximately $14.5 million flow into state and local coffers from these cruises.

“These dollars translate into educational opportunities, our ability to provide effective public safety, housing dollars,” Mayor Bruce Harrell said. “This is the recycling of money for local needs.”

We like big boats and we cannot lie

So when do we start to see some life flow back into our ports? Well, now. The sailing schedule is fully underway as of Sat., April 23 and the port will stay busy through September and trailing off at the end of October.

Okay, maybe not everyone does. If you’re looking to avoid the crowds, weekends will not be the time to head downtown for the next five months. While cruise ships sail just about every day through October, most dock on Saturdays and Sundays (and leave again the same day).

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