Seattle’s 2023 cruise season has officially set sail, marking the beginning of a busy six months for the Port of Seattle. The first ship to embark on its voyage was Norwegian Bliss, which set sail from Pier 66 on April 15. Over the next six months, the port expects 289 sailings to carry 1.4 million revenue passengers, or 700,000 travellers, to Alaska and back.
According to the Port of Seattle, the 2023 cruise season is expected to support over $900 million in economic activity and 5,500 jobs and generate $14.5 million in statewide taxes. Additionally, each homeported vessel brings over $4 million to the local economy every time it provisions at the dock.
The Port is also taking steps to reduce the environmental impact of cruise ship operations. Many ships are expected to use shore power connections this year, allowing them to turn off diesel engines at the dock, reducing air pollution and greenhouse gas emissions contributing to climate change. The Port forecasts that 111 sailings will connect at Terminal 91 this year, nearly double the connection rate of last year.
“The demand for the Seattle to Alaska cruise itinerary made it possible for our port to expand investments in workforce development and clean energy infrastructure,” said Port of Seattle Executive Director Steve Metruck. “With so much interest in this itinerary, partnership with cruise lines and ports along the route, we see extraordinary potential for the economic and environmental future of Seattle cruise.”
The Port of Seattle is committed to being one of North America’s most environmentally progressive cruise homeports. The port works closely with cruise lines to minimize impacts from cruise ship operations through cleaner fuels, access to shore power, and a strong collaborative relationship focused on the environment.
The port aims to have 100 percent of homeport cruise ships in Seattle equipped with shore power capability and connect to power on every call by 2030. 100 percent of Holland America, Carnival Cruise Line, and Princess ships calling the Port of Seattle will be shore power capable in 2023.
In 2022, the Port joined ten other organizations in creating the world’s first cruise-focused Green Corridor, developed to explore decarbonization strategies from the Pacific Northwest to Alaska. The Green Corridor is helping ports, cruise lines, cities, and industry experts strategize on alternative fuel production, storage, and related infrastructure requirements.
Cruise lines operating in Seattle follow state and international regulatory guidelines and continue to voluntarily adapt operations and equipment to protect air and water quality. The Port and the cruise industry have had a voluntary agreement since 2004, which has helped increase standards and oversight on cruise ships.
The Port of Seattle is expected to complete its third berth electrification project at Pier 66 in 2024, making it one of the world’s leading ports for shore power use.
The 2023 cruise season is a significant economic driver for the Seattle region, potentially bringing in over $900 million in economic activity and supporting over 5,500 jobs. As the demand for the Seattle to Alaska cruise itinerary continues to grow, the Port of Seattle is committed to expanding investments in workforce development and clean energy infrastructure to ensure Seattle’s cruise industry’s future economic and environmental sustainability.
Overall, Seattle’s 2023 cruise season looks to be a positive step forward for the city’s economy and the environment. With a solid commitment to reducing environmental impacts and creating sustainable economic growth, the Port of Seattle is well-positioned to continue to be a leader in the cruise industry for years to come.