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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Port of Seattle expects record numbers of cruise passengers
6 May 2005

SEATTLE (AP) - The Port of Seattle expects a record number of passengers for this year's cruise season, which begins in earnest this weekend.

Some 685,000 passengers are expected to board 14 vessels that will make 169 stops in Seattle, including new cruises to British Columbia, Oregon and Alaska.

"Passengers have shown the cruise lines that they like Seattle as a homeport," Bob Edwards, president of the port commission. "The cruise lines have responded by offering a wider range of cruise products here in Seattle."

The new cruises offered this year from Seattle include three-, four- and five-day round-trip voyages by Celebrity Cruises to Prince Rupert, Nanaimo, Victoria and Vancouver in British Columbia and Astoria, Ore., as well as 10- and 11-day Alaska cruises by Norwegian Cruise Line.

The cruise season officially started Thursday, but really kicks off this weekend, with three vessels boarding Saturday and three more Sunday.

New services offered at the Port's cruise terminals this season include rental cars, available at Terminal 30 and Pier 66.

In 1999, just six vessels carrying 7,000 passengers called on Seattle. By 2004, those numbers had grown to 150 calls and 562,000 passengers.

"As the number of ships and passengers grow, so does the economic benefit the cruise industry brings to the region," said Port of Seattle CEO Mic Dinsmore.

The cruise industry generated 1,732 local jobs in 2004 with a payroll of $59 million, according to the port. The industry also was responsible for $208 million in local business revenue and $5.8 million in state and local tax revenue.

141,116 Posts
Discussion Starter · #3 ·
Seattle's success in attracting cruise ships means fewer sailings out of Vancouver
Special to Canwest News Service
19 April 2010

Vancouver may have owned the podium at the 2010 Olympics, but this summer the Port of Seattle -- with more ship departures -- wins gold in the tight race for Alaska cruise business.

A decrease in the number of ships cruising to Alaska this summer combined with Seattle's growing success as a home port has resulted in a decrease of almost 40 per cent in capacity for Vancouver this year. And, for the first time in two decades, Vancouver's Ballantyne Pier will be empty of cruise ships all summer long.

Does this mean you now have to drive to Seattle to catch a cruise to Alaska? Not at all -- there are still close to 200 Alaska sailings available from Vancouver in 2010. But last summer we decided to take a cruise out of Seattle and see for ourselves what that city's cruise experience has to offer compared to Vancouver.

If you haven't visited Seattle in recent years, there is much to see and do there thanks in part to Microsoft co-founder Paul Allen, who funded construction of the Experience Music Project (an interactive rock'n'roll museum) and the Science Fiction Museum, both of which are housed in a modernist structure designed by Frank Gehry. This multicoloured stainless-steel building stands near the base of the Space Needle and monorail terminal.

Seattle's once-gritty downtown waterfront, location of the Pike Place Market and Bell Street Cruise Terminal, has been revitalized over the past decade with a seawall promenade linking various tourist attractions such as an Imax theatre, aquarium and outdoor sculpture park managed by the Seattle Art Museum.

And throughout the downtown core, free bus service makes it easy to get around whenever you are tired of walking. The monorail remains the fastest way to travel between the Space Needle and the hotels and department stores on 5th Avenue.

Seattle has responded to the desire of many Americans to cruise from a domestic port. A new cruise terminal (Pier 91) opened in 2009 at the north end of the city to accommodate the growing number of cruise ships offering Alaska cruises out of Seattle.

It's a 20-minute drive through pleasant residential neighbourhoods from downtown Seattle to Pier 91, where we left our car at the terminal's long-term parking lot. There's a regular shuttle from here to the pier and we were soon boarding the Westerdam -- one of Holland America Line's newer ships carrying 1,850 passengers.

This Seattle-based cruise line is known for its spacious, mid-sized ships appointed with traditional features, such as a full-wrap teak promenade deck lined with steamer chairs, and extensive Dutch art and antiques displayed throughout the ship's public areas. Holland America's officers are Dutch and the stewards are Indonesian.

Our outside stateroom on the Westerdam featured a veranda (always recommended on Alaska cruises) from which we could enjoy the views as our ship pulled away from the pier and headed up Puget Sound. But, it must be said, the one thing missing on a cruise departing from Seattle is the Canadian Inside Passage. Because of the extra distance involved in getting from Seattle to Alaska, the ships make a beeline to the open Pacific Ocean via Juan de Fuca Strait and travel up the west coast of Vancouver Island. As a result, there's not much to see during the full day at sea at either end of the cruise, except for fog or distant islands. On the other hand, ships departing from Vancouver travel up the Inside Passage, past forested islands and along narrow, winding channels. These protected waters are calm, and it's not unusual to sight whales or other wildlife while enjoying your morning coffee on deck.

Still, we found lots to do on our Seattle cruise during our days at sea. Most passengers enjoy the ship's extensive facilities, which on Holland America ships include cooking classes in its Culinary Arts Centre and digital workshops led by Microsoft-trained experts. And, as on any ship, there is always the ineffable pleasure of sipping a drink and reading a book in the late afternoon in one of the numerous lounges.

Once the ships arrive in Alaska, four days are spent visiting the ports of call and the area's tidewater glaciers. Juneau and Ketchikan are included in nearly every Alaska itinerary, but the Russian-founded port of Sitka is rarely visited on round-trip cruises from Vancouver, which instead feature a port call at the Gold Rush town of Skagway. Our Holland America cruise included a port call at Sitka, where the ships anchor in the scenic harbour and tender passengers ashore.

Sitka was the former capital of Russian America, before the colony was sold to the United States in 1867 and eventually became the State of Alaska. Sitka is rich in history, and James Michener lived here while researching and writing about Alaska, his rooms at the college campus not far from the town's wooden Orthodox church and bishop's house, while the local Tlingit heritage is revealed in the totem poles that stand alongside forest trails in Sitka National Historical Park.

Wildlife-watching boats can be boarded in Sitka Harbour for a tour of nearby channels where sea otters congregate in summer, and where orcas and humpback whales are often sighted. Sitka is also a good port to rent a bike (Yellow Jersey Cycle Shop is near the docks) and pedal along Sawmill Creek Road to Whale Park and Heart Lake.

Our other port calls were Juneau, which has good hiking trails and whale-watching tours, and Ketchikan, which started as a cannery town, its boardwalk streets now lined with shops. A day spent viewing tidewater glaciers from the ship is also part of an Alaska cruise, and our ship pulled into spectacular Glacier Bay to visit several inlets and pause near Margerie Glacier, where large chunks of glistening ice will drop, without warning, from the glacier's cliff face into the water.

The last full day of the cruise was again at sea, steaming south toward Seattle, and once again sea fog enveloped the ship until we neared the southern end of Vancouver Island and pulled into sunny Victoria.

Seattle-bound ships stop for a few hours the last evening of the cruise to satisfy a U.S. shipping law that requires a foreign port call. Although it's a short visit, there was time to stroll to the Inner Harbour and enjoy the festive atmosphere along the seawall, where buskers were drawing large crowds and the hanging flower baskets adorning the Victorian lampposts were in full bloom. It was novel being mistaken for American tourists, especially when our taxi driver tried to talk us into visiting Butchart Gardens. Then it was back to the ship for its late-evening departure to Seattle, where we docked at dawn the next day. We opted for the express checkout and were soon driving through light Sunday-morning traffic back to Vancouver.

The Verdict

It's worth taking an Alaska cruise from Seattle if you would like to spend a day or two in Seattle and would like to visit Sitka. However, if you want to see all of the Inside Passage and visit the Klondike Gold Rush town of Skagway, take your cruise from Vancouver.

There is little or no difference in cost between a round trip cruise from Seattle or one from Vancouver, although the best prices from either port are usually offered on the May sailings. According to Harvey Strydhorst of Sea Courses Cruises, good pricing is still available on Alaska cruises, comparable to the bargains that were offered last year.

Prices currently start at $600 per person for a seven-day cruise (based on double occupancy of an inside stateroom). Holland America is also offering an array of 12-to 20-day cruisetours out of Vancouver starting at $1,500 per person, which combine an Alaska cruise with overland travel by railcar or deluxe motorcoach to such places as Kluane National Park and Reserve, Dawson City and Denali National Park.

Alaska Meltdown

It was the best of times and now the worst of times. Vancouver, with more than 900,000 Alaska-bound passengers in 2009, is down this year to less than 600,000. Seattle, with 846,000 passengers this year, will lose two ships and more than 75,000 passengers in 2011.

When the Canada Place Cruise Terminal opened on Vancouver's harbourfront at the start of Expo 86, the city's status as home port for Alaska cruises was assured. For two decades, the Port of Vancouver thrived. A growing demand for berth space prompted the refurbishment of Ballantyne Pier and a one-berth expansion of Canada Place to accommodate a total of five cruise ships in Vancouver Harbour on busy summer weekends. Cruise business peaked in 2002, when more than one million passengers boarded ships here for Alaska. Seattle began emerging as an alternative home port to Vancouver in 2000, when Norwegian Cruise Line announced it would be using this U.S. city as a home port.

141,116 Posts
Discussion Starter · #5 ·
Alaska cruises expected to bring 100,000 more visitors to Seattle this year
17 January 2020
Puget Sound Business Journal Excerpt

Bigger vessels and instability in the Middle East will help bring 100,000 more cruise ship visitors to Seattle this year for Alaska journeys, Windstar Cruises President John Delaney said Friday.

"You really can't talk about the economic outlook for Seattle without talking about the cruise industry, a very important part of our local economy," Delaney told 300 attendees of the Puget Sound Business Journal's 2020 Economic Outlook breakfast.

Delaney said the Alaska cruise sector is growing fast and creating solid economic spinoffs, noting nonresident cruise visitors to the Puget Sound region spend on average $1,547 on pre- and post-Alaska cruise lodgings and meals. Citing Port of Seattle figures, he said the cruise activity is estimated to create $14.5 million in statewide taxes.

"It's a real economic driver for our city," Delaney said, noting that Seattle started to especially boom after the cruise market softened in Europe back in 2016.

That happened following the Arab Spring, the related refugee crisis in the eastern Mediterranean, and several bombings in Istanbul. Those events triggered the repositioning of some cruise ships from Europe to the Alaska cruise market.

The cruise presence in Seattle now supports 5,500 jobs that generated $900 million worth of economic activity in 2019.

The Port of Seattle has announced it will build a new $200 million cruise terminal near downtown, in partnership with a private company.

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