Seattle Marks Historic Cruise Season in 2023

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The Port of Seattle concluded the 2023 cruising season with a record-breaking number of passengers.

Princess Cruise ship port of Seattle
A Norwegian cruise ship in the Port of Seattle. (SEATTLE)

From April 15 to October 30, 2023, the Port of Seattle welcomed 1.77 million revenue passengers or over 907,000 individual passengers.

During the same period, it hosted 291 cruises, offering tremendous economic gains to local businesses in the area.

Record Cruise Passengers in Seattle

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Holland America’s Eurodam in Seattle

Since each cruise ship is estimated to bring in $4 million, the recently ended cruise season was projected to be worth almost $900 million. More than 20% of passengers have been known to spend some time in the city before leaving on their flights. 

Tammy Bount-Canavan, who heads an organization that advocates local tourism and travel, described the economic infusion brought by the cruise industry. “The 2023 cruise season is something for Seattle to celebrate. We welcomed hundreds of thousands of people off the ships and into our shops, restaurants, hotels, and attractions, providing critical support to nearly 61,000 of our neighbors who work in hospitality and contributing greatly to the more than $10 billion economic impact of tourism in our region,” she said.

Record number of cruise ships relied on shore power

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City of Seattle

In addition to having more passengers than ever, the city has another win to celebrate. More than a third of the cruise ships that berthed there switched to shore power while at the Smith Cove Cruise Terminal, marking another record-breaking number. 

In 2004, the Port of Seattle was one of the first to offer shore power and the first homeport where up to two vessels could simultaneously hook up to it. The goal is to give the Bell Street cruise terminal at Pier 66 the same plug-in capabilities by next year’s cruise season.

Stephanie Jones Stebbins, the port’s Managing Director of Maritime, described the overarching goal by saying, “The port continues to work collaboratively with the cruise industry, Alaska, and British Columbia ports to establish a ‘green corridor’ that would reduce greenhouse gas emissions and bring zero-emission ships to the cruise route from Seattle to Alaska.”

High Volumes Anticipated for 2024

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Norwegian Bliss (Photo courtesy of the Port of Seattle)

Seattle’s neighbor to the north, Vancouver is also seeing record cruise traffic. Earlier this year the Canadian port say over 50,000 passenger movements in one day.

277 cruise ships are expected to call on the Port of Seattle next year, leading to optimism that it will continue to have high passenger volumes throughout 2024.

Last year, 296 port stops brought around 1.26 million revenue passengers to the city’s port.

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