Seattle Cruise Port Guide: Gateway to the Pacific Northwest

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Cruising from Seattle? Where is the Seattle Cruise Port? What are the things to do near and around Seattle Cruise Port?

Seattle is the ultimate gateway for those embarking on an Alaskan cruise and a must-visit destination for anyone keen to check out its iconic attractions. With a bustling port that received 1.43 million passengers last year, it’s a key point for cruisers heading to Alaska’s rugged beauty via major cruise lines.

With 1.43 million passengers expected to cruise out of the Seattle Cruise Port in 2023, it is also one of the busiest cruise ports in the Pacific Northwest. Multiple major cruise lines embark on Alaskan itineraries that start and end in Alaska.

Our cruise aboard the Norwegian Encore to Alaska introduced us to Seattle’s charm, from the iconic Space Needle to Pike Place Market, and the city’s skyline left an indelible mark on us. Eager for a return visit, we look forward to diving deeper into what this vibrant city offers.

Rooted in over a century of maritime history as Alaska’s gateway, Seattle’s cruise port caters to a broad spectrum of ships and voyages, including popular Pacific Coastal Cruises. The port is located near downtown and offers seamless access to Seattle’s foremost sights, cuisine, and accommodations.

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Start your Pacific Northwest cruise with our guide to the Seattle Cruise Port. Seattle Cruise Terminal locations, transportation, and top attractions included.

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In this article, you’ll find what you need to know about Seattle Cruise Port, the nearest hotels by the port, parking, and the top things to do in Seattle.

What You Need to Know About Seattle Cruise Port

  • The Seattle Cruise Port, a pivotal hub for Alaskan cruises, features two terminals.
  • A variety of transportation options ensure smooth access to and from these terminals.
  • Nearby parking, hotels, and attractions in downtown Seattle enhance the convenience for cruisers.

What port do cruise ships leave from in Seattle?

norwegian encore docked at pier 66 in seattlePin
Norwegian Encore docked at Pier 66 in Seattle. View from Pike Place Market.

Seattle’s cruise port features two major terminals: the Bell Street Cruise Terminal at Pier 66, located downtown, and the Smith Cove Cruise Terminal at Pier 91, positioned northwest of downtown. Despite their separate locations, both terminals are conveniently accessible from the heart of Seattle, making travel between them straightforward.

Bell Street Cruise Terminal at Pier 66

  • The Downtown Seattle cruise terminal is located at the Bell Street Cruise Terminal at Pier 66, in the heart of Seattle’s waterfront.
  • This terminal is near Pike Place Market, placing it at the center of Seattle’s vibrant waterfront area.
  • It serves as the home port for Norwegian Cruise Line and Oceana Cruises.

Smith Cove Cruise Terminal at Pier 91

  • The Smith Cove Cruise Terminal at Pier 91 is the Seattle cruise terminal northwest of downtown.
  • Located just a 10-minute drive from the iconic Space Needle.
  • This terminal is the home port for Carnival Cruise Line, Celebrity Cruises, Holland America Line, Princess Cruises, and Royal Caribbean.

How far is it from the airport to the cruise pier in Seattle?

The distance from Seattle-Tacoma International Airport (SEA) to Seattle’s cruise terminals varies:

  • Bell Street Cruise Terminal at Pier 66: about 15 miles, a 30-minute drive.
  • Smith Cove Cruise Terminal at Pier 91: around 17 miles, a 35-minute drive.
view of the seattle skyline from pier 66 on the cruise shipPin
View of Seattle Skyline from Pier 66.

How to Get to Seattle Cruise Port?

Seattle’s cruise ports, nestled in the heart of downtown, offer various transportation options for ease and convenience.

  • Airport to Port
    Seattle-Tacoma International Airport is about a 30 to 40-minute ride by taxi, Uber, or shuttle to the cruise ports or downtown hotels.
  • By Train
    For travelers from the Pacific Coast, Amtrak’s Coast Starlight Train from California, Washington, and Oregon arrives at King Street Station downtown. A taxi or Uber will get you to the cruise terminal.
  • Taxi or Rideshare
    A quick taxi or rideshare from the airport or hotel to the cruise terminal is recommended for those, not within walking distance of the terminal. It’s best to get on the taxi line at the airport or have a hotel porter hail a taxi for you. You can also book an Uber or Lyft.
  • Hotel Shuttle Service
    Some hotels offer shuttle services directly to the cruise terminal. Inquire with the front desk.
  • Shuttle Service from the Airport
    Book shuttle services from the airport to your hotel or the cruise terminal.
  • Cruise Line Transfers
    Cruise lines may provide transfer services from the airport to the port on embarkation day. However, arriving at least a day before your cruise sets sail is highly recommended to avoid any last-minute issues.

Book a Private Car or a Taxi With

Cruise Ship Parking in Seattle

Parking directly at your designated cruise terminal simplifies check-in and allows easy walk-in access. However, during peak cruise season, parking spots are limited, so you must book a spot in advance.

Long-Term Cruise Terminal Parking

Pier 66 Bell Street Pier Cruise Terminal – Bell Street Pier Garage

  • 9 Wall St. Seattle, WA 98121 (across from Pier 66 terminal)
  • Google Map It
  • Capacity: 1,500 spaces
  • Rates: General parking is $30 daily, with a small discount for online prepayment.
  • Accessibility: A sky bridge connects the parking lot to the cruise terminal for easy access.
  • Reservations: Book a Parking Spot

Pier 91 Smith Cove Cruise Terminal – Parking Lot D

  • 2001 W Garfield St, Seattle, WA 98119 (on-site at Pier 91 terminal)
  • Google Map It
  • Capacity: 1,100 spaces available
  • Rates: General parking is $29 a day. Prepaying online can offer a small discount.
  • Reservations: Book a Parking Spot

Tip: Drop off all the luggage at your designated cruise terminal for your cruise vacation with a porter before parking. This will eliminate the hassle of dragging heavy luggage with you.

Hotels Near Seattle Cruise Port

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A hotel room at the Grand Hyatt Seattle.

Downtown Seattle boasts over 14,000 hotel rooms, yet booking your pre-cruise or post-cruise stay early is wise. While the hotels nearest the port fill up quickly, staying even 10-15 minutes away is no hassle due to Seattle’s walkable nature.

During our stay, we chose the Grand Hyatt Seattle, conveniently located within walking distance of key attractions. This proves that you don’t need to be adjacent to the cruise port to enjoy downtown.

There are accommodations near Pier 66 for those eager to stroll to the terminal on cruise morning. However, this convenience doesn’t extend to departures from Pier 91.

Hotels Near Pier 66 in Seattle

Hotels Near Pier 91 in Seattle:

Disembarking at Seattle Cruise Port

Upon disembarking at Seattle cruise port with an early flight, we opted for the “walk-off” option, carrying our luggage to quickly exit the ship. Once outside, we simply hailed an Uber.

For those with later flights, Seattle’s Port Valet service is an invaluable option we would have considered. This complimentary service offered by the Port of Seattle is perfect for flights departing after noon on disembarkation day, providing a seamless transition from ship to airport.

What is Port Valet?

Port Valet is a complimentary luggage transfer service offered by the Port of Seattle for cruise passengers. Here’s how it simplifies your departure:

  • Service: Allows passengers to check luggage on the cruise ship for direct transport to their airline.
  • Benefits:
    • Luggage is checked through to your final destination.
    • Boarding passes are provided before leaving the ship, enabling direct access to airport security and your gate.
    • Eliminates the hassle of carrying luggage to the airport.
  • Eligibility: For passengers with participating airlines, for flights departing after 12 pm from Seattle-Tacoma International Airport on disembarkation day.
  • How to Sign Up: Visit the official Port Valet site for details or sign up on the cruise ship.

Read more: Cruise Disembarkation Tips

Exploring Downtown Seattle

Downtown Seattle is a vibrant city worth exploring before or after your cruise. It’s home to iconic landmarks like the Space Needle, Pike Place Market, and the Seattle Great Wheel. The area also boasts a rich food and coffee scene, with Pike Place Market offering a historic and delicious experience.

Enjoy stunning waterfront views and ride on the Seattle Great Wheel at Pier 57. Don’t miss visiting the Seattle Space Needle for breathtaking views and photo opportunities. If you have extra time, consider exploring the Chihuly Garden and Glass Museum.

The city is also a great place to spend an extra day or two to explore what it truly offers. If you’re staying longer, there are plenty of exciting destinations just a short drive away, including Mount Rainier National Park, Snoqualmie Falls, Woodinville Wine Country, Bainbridge Island, and Leavenworth. Each offers natural beauty and outdoor recreation opportunities.

Tour Ideas
Mt. Rainier Day Trip from Seattle [book here]
Visit Snoqualmie Falls and Hike to Twin Falls [book here]

Leavenworth Tour from Seattle [book here]

Top Seattle Attractions for Cruisers

If you have limited time to explore before or after your cruise or if the cruise ship is docking for a short day, here are some of the Seattle Attractions you can experience.

Visit the Space Needle

The Space Needle, an iconic symbol of Seattle since the 1962 World’s Fair, offers breathtaking views from its observation deck. Initially hesitant due to its touristy reputation, we found the experience delightful and are happy we didn’t miss out on visiting.

Tip: Buy tickets to enter shortly before sunset. You can check online what time the sun will set the day you want to visit. Buy the tickets to enter no less than 45 minutes before. Once you enter, you can stay as long as you like. This way you can see the city when the sun is out, at sunset, and then at night.

Space Needle and Chihuly Garden and Glass Combination Ticket [book here]

Make Time to Explore Pike Place Market

Established in 1907, Pike Place Market is not just a bustling marketplace but a historic Seattle landmark, embodying the city’s culture. It’s an essential visit for anyone in Seattle.

Here, you’ll encounter the lively fish-throwing at Pike Place Fish Market, the original Starbucks for a coffee fix, and the colorful yet slightly gross Gum Wall. The market is also home to a vibrant flower market—perfect for picking up a fresh bouquet for your cabin—and offers an array of fresh seafood and delicious food stalls. Don’t miss giving Rachel, the bronze piggy bank, a pat.

Exploring the market could take hours, as it’s packed with more experiences than one can cover in a short visit. It’s busiest in the afternoon, so an early morning visit is recommended to avoid the crowds.

We opted for a late hotel checkout on embarkation day to squeeze in some time at Pike Place Market. Although our visit was brief, it was undoubtedly worth it.

Tour Ideas
Chef Guided Food Tour of Pike Place Market- 2 Hours [book here]
Pike Place Market Tasting Tour [book here]

Take a Ride on the Seattle Great Wheel

man staring at the great sheel in the seattle skylinePin

The Seattle Great Wheel, a prominent Ferris wheel at Pier 57, was built in 2012 and reached 175 feet, marking it as a standout feature on the West Coast skyline. At night, its 500,000 LED lights make it a sight to behold.

Visible from the Space Needle and during a cruise ship’s sail away, the Great Wheel offers a unique view of Seattle and its waterfront. Pier 57 also hosts a variety of activities, from dining at The Crab Pot and sampling bread at Alaska Sourdough Bakery to enjoying the carousel.

Take a City Tour of the Emerald City

Exploring Seattle through a city tour comes highly recommended, thanks to its rich history and vibrant culture. It’s an efficient way to dive into the city’s key sights and sounds. City tours are invaluable in any new city, offering insights, history, and local tips that enhance your understanding and experience.

Tour Idea
Premier 3-Hour Seattle City Tour [book here]

Visit the Museum of Pop Culture

outside of the museum of pop culture seattle

The Museum of Pop Culture (MoPOP) in Seattle is dedicated to celebrating popular music, iconic events, TV shows, movies, and more. It showcases a variety of exhibits, interactive installations, rare artifacts, and multimedia displays. A standout feature is the Sound Lab, where visitors can play with instruments and recording techniques, making it a must-visit for music enthusiasts. Expect to spend around 2-3 hours exploring.

Go on a Coffee Tour

Embarking on a Coffee Tour in Seattle might leave you buzzing, but it’s a fantastic way to dive into the city’s vibrant coffee culture. This experience allows you to sample exceptional coffee, wander through various neighborhoods, gain insights into coffee culture, and back local businesses. Though Starbucks hails from here, there’s much more to Seattle’s coffee scene than just this famous chain.

Tour Idea
Seattle Coffee Culture Tour [book here]

🚢 Book a cruise Sailing from Seattle

Alaska Cruises from Seattle w/ Free On Board Credit + Discounts on Shore Activities

family waving during sail away on cruise ship from seattle cruise portPin

Where do the cruise ships dock in Seattle?

Depending on the cruise line, cruise ships dock in Seattle at Pier 66, close to Pike Place Market, or at Pier 57, towards the north end of downtown.

What cruise terminal does NCL use in Seattle?

Norwegian and its sister cruise line, Oceana, dock at Pier 66, while all other cruise lines dock at Pier 57.

What is the schedule of cruise departures from Seattle?

Cruise departures from Seattle typically occur between April and October, with most cruises departing during the peak summer months of June, July, and August. Specific departure dates and times may vary depending on the cruise line and itinerary. We recommend checking with the cruise line or consulting the Port of Seattle website for up-to-date departure schedules.

How can I get from the Seattle airport to the cruise port?

There are several transportation options from Seattle-Tacoma International Airport to the cruise port. You can take a taxi, use rideshare services like Uber or Lyft, or opt for airport shuttle services. Alternatively, public transit is available via the Central Link Light Rail that connects the airport to downtown Seattle, from where you can take a taxi to the cruise terminal.

Before you set sail, here are some related articles you don’t want to miss:


Kathy Ava

Meet Kathy Ava, a food, travel, and cruise writer based in Los Angeles/Pasadena, and the owner and main writer of Tasty Itinerary. With over 20 years of experience planning trips and logistics at her full-time job and for herself, she's become a pro at crafting unforgettable tasty itineraries. She's always on the hunt for delicious, fun travel destinations and cruise itineraries. She firmly believes that life is short and we must make the most of it, so always say yes to dessert.

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