When it comes to departure ports, it’s tough to beat a destination like Seattle. As a world-class city tucked into one of the most beautiful regions on the planet, there’s a ton to see and do in the area. And that’s before you even set foot on a cruise ship.
If you’re sailing from Seattle, then you are almost assuredly headed to Alaska. The port serves as a jumping off point for Alaskan cruises, most of them lasting a week. Over the past decade or so Alaskan cruises have boomed in popularity, and with that so has traffic at the Port of Seattle.
Today the two terminals (with a third on the way) serve more than 1.2 million passengers in a year — most of that during the busy summer Alaskan cruise season.
Unlike ports in Florida that might attract a lot of locals, most passengers sailing from Seattle are from out of town and unfamiliar with the port and what it offers. For those, we’ve created this complete guide to cruising from the Port of Seattle.
- Distance from Sea-Tac Airport: 15 miles | 20-30 minutes
- Number of Terminals: 2 (third terminal in planning stages)
- Passengers Carried Each Year: 1.2 million+
- Cruise Ship Dockings Each Year: 200+
Port of Seattle Location
As mentioned above, Seattle has two different terminals. Unlike other cruise ports, the terminals aren’t located at one single spot. Instead, the terminals are separated by a few miles.
That said, both terminals are located near downtown in the heart of Seattle. Pier 66 (Bell Street Pier Cruise Terminal) is within walking distance of downtown and the famous Pike Place Market. Pier 91 (Smith Cove Terminal) is just about three miles up the waterfront.
Both terminals are about 15 miles from Seattle-Tacoma International Airport. The ride will take about 20-30 minutes to get to the ship from the airport.
If you are driving to the port, here is the address to use for both Pier 66 and Pier 91:
2225 Alaskan Way, Seattle, WA 98121
2001 W Garfield Way, Seattle, WA 98199
Many people come into Seattle before their cruise to explore the area for a day or two. There’s a chance you might be coming from somewhere other than the airport. In that case, here are the distances from a number of areas around town:
- Sea-Tac Airport: 15 miles | 20-30 minutes
- Tacoma: 35 miles | 45-60 minutes
- Olympia: 60 miles | 1 hour 15 minutes
- West Seattle: 6 miles | 15 minutes
- Capitol Hill: 3 miles | 10 minutes
- Bellvue: 11 miles | 20-25 minutes
- Kent: 22 miles | 35 minutes
Things to Do Near the Port
One of the big benefits of cruising from Seattle is that there is a ton to do right nearby. Within minutes you have a number of world-class attractions. For that reason, we suggest thinking of Seattle as your first port of call and spend at least a day exploring, instead of just arriving and getting on the ship.
Space Needle Complex
Of course the most famous landmark in Seattle is the Space Needle. It’s only a short distance from the cruise ports. In addition to seeing the building, there’s also lots more to do at the complex, including the Pacific Science Center, Seattle Children’s Museum, and the Museum of Pop Culture.
Pike Place Market
Pike Place Market is a tourist hotspot. The open-air market features all sorts of specialty shopping and it one of the most visited spots in the city. It’s a short 10-minute walk from Pier 66, but you’ll need a ride from Pier 91. There are also a number of hotels nearby if you want to stay in downtown Seattle.
The waterfront right near Pier 66 and downtown Seattle is walkable with a large number of things to do. There is the Seattle Aquarium, Ye Olde Curiosity Shop, the Great Wheel and more. It’s all a short walk from Pier 66 and an easy way to spend a day. That’s not evening mentioning the great views of the water afforded from these spots.
The Port of Seattle has two cruise terminals, Pier 66 and Pier 91.
Officially known as the Bell Street Pier Cruise Terminal at Pier 66, this cruise terminal is the “downtown” terminal. It’s located within walking distance of a number of hotels and attractions. It serves primarily Norwegian and Oceania cruise ships. Parking is onsite, with about 1,700 spaces. (More details on parking below)
While Pier 66 is the most “visible” cruise pier due to its location, many people sail from Pier 91. That’s because it’s served by a much greater number of cruise lines, including Carnival, Celebrity, Holland America, Royal Caribbean, and Princess. The location is north of downtown, but a short distance away. There is also parking right nearby, making it easy to get to the ship.
Hotels Near the Seattle Port
If you’re flying in for your cruise, it’s always a good idea to plan to arrive a day early. This way if anything goes awry with your flights — delays, weather, computer issues, etc. — then you still have plenty of time to get to the port on cruise day.
But when flying into Seattle, we suggest everyone arrive an extra day or two, simply because there is a lot to see and do in the area.
Because Seattle sees a large number of tourists and because the cruise ports are located near downtown, there are a number of hotels in the area. One thing to note is that downtown hotels can be more expensive than staying outside of the city center. If you are trying to save a few bucks, you can stay near the airport, which often has cheaper rates.
Note: Links below are to TripAdvisor. We are an affiliate of TripAdvisor and earn revenue from clicks on their website, at no charge to you.
Hotels Near the Cruise Port:
Hotels Near the Airport (Often Less Expensive):
- DoubleTree by Hilton Hotel Seattle Airport
- Hilton Seattle Airport and Conference Center
- Best Western Airport Executel
One nice perk is that some hotels cater to cruise passengers with perks like shuttles to the cruise port or cruise parking. These can save you considerable money. To see our list of hotels with cruise parking, click here. We also have a list of hotels with shuttles to the Seattle cruise port.
Getting to the Port of Seattle (Transportation)
In a city the size of Seattle, you have a number of options for getting around. Meanwhile, as the cruise industry grows, so too do the services available catering to getting cruise passengers back and forth from the port.
We have full details of all your transportation options to the port here. Most people, however, use one of the following options…
Driving to the Port
If you’re lucky enough to live in the area, you can simply drive to the cruise port. And while traffic in the area can be trying, it’s hard to beat the convenience of driving in for your cruise. No matter which terminal you sail from there is parking available at the port. And while it is a bit pricey, it’s also extremely convenient. You can arrive on your own schedule and also leave right when you get off the ship the day your cruise returns. We have more details on parking below.
Over the past five years or so, Uber and Lyft have transformed how people get around. The rideshare companies operate throughout the area and can get you to the cruise ports from anywhere you are. Rides will run about $35-40 and take about half an hour from the airport to the ships. Of course, not everyone is coming from the airport. That’s why we’ve estimated rates from various spots in the area below.
- Sea-Tac Airport: $36-40
- Tacoma: $45-50
- Olympia: $110-120
- West Seattle: $15-18
- Capitol Hill: $10-12
- Bellvue $24-28
- Kent: $42-49
Of course, if rideshare isn’t for you then you can always take a taxi. Cabs are available around town and at the airport. Seattle offers both flat rate and metered cabs. Expect the general prices to be a bit higher than a comparable ride with Uber/Lyft. Still, for those that don’t have an account with a rideshare company, getting a cab can be more convenient than having to download an app and start an account when you want a ride.
Hotels with Cruise Shuttles
One of the nice things about having a booming cruise industry in the city is that hotels pull out the stops to cater to cruise passengers. As is the case in other ports, a number of hotels offer shuttle rides to the port as a perk for your stay. Sometimes you might have to pay a nominal fee, but it makes it easy to get to the port on cruise day. See our complete list of Seattle hotels with cruise shuttles here.
Remember, for more details on all of your options on getting to the cruise port, see our port transportation page.
Parking at the Port
Driving to the port? If so, then you’ve got to find somewhere to park your car during your trip. The good news is that there are convenient parking options right near the port. The bad news is that they can be expensive. Below we have your main options for parking at the Port of Seattle. For full details, see our Seattle cruise parking page here.
Official Port Parking
Like all cruise ports, the Port of Seattle offers parking right at the terminal. Both Pier 66 and Pier 91 have parking lots available to passengers with more than a thousand spaces each. Passengers can park in the Bell Street Pier Garage, which is across the street from Pier 66, or there is a parking lot right across from Pier 91 just a little farther north.
The parking at the Bell Street Garage is $23 per day. Parking at Pier 91 is $27 per day. There is also RV and oversized vehicle parking available at Pier 91. While you don’t have to reserve ahead of time, it is available so that you can have one less thing to worry about on cruise day.
While many cruise ports have a number of independent lots that offer dramatically cheaper rates than parking at the port, Seattle is a bit different. Given the location, parking is at a premium so there aren’t a lot of spots. One lot that we do know of is Seattle CruisePark. It’s located near Pier 91, but offers a shuttle to both terminals. Rates are about $22 per day. You can read more details here.
Hotels With Cruise Parking
As we’ve mentioned, hotels in the Seattle area often cater to cruise passengers. Specifically, there are a number of hotels both downtown and near the airport that will let you park your car there while you cruise. For some hotels the parking is included in a package. Others simply charge a daily amount that can be significantly cheaper than parking at the cruise port. To see a list of options and details about hotels with cruise parking in Seattle, click here.
Frequently Asked Questions
Have more questions about sailing from Seattle? Let us know in the comments below.
What Time Should I Book My Flight Home?
When you arrive back in Seattle after your cruise, you can expect to get back early in the morning. Most ships dock about 6-7 a.m. and then it can take 2-3 hours for everyone to get off the ship. Those choosing “self debarkation” will get off the ship first. These are people who elect to carry all of their bags with them and don’t need assistance getting off the ship.
After going through customs and immigration, it’s another 20-30 minute ride to the airport after getting to your transportation. For that reason, we’d suggest never booking a flight before noon. Booking for 1 p.m. or later should give you plenty of time if there are any delays.
What About Seattle’s Port Valet Service?
You might have heard about the Port Valet service from the Port of Seattle. This service is great for those headed to the airport, but who don’t want to deal with lugging bags around. You simply put a tag on your bags the night before your cruise ends and set them outside your room.
The staff then picks them up and they are sent to the airport and loaded on the plane. That way you can explore the city for the day or simply head to the airport without worrying about your luggage. The best news? The service is free. You can get full details of the Port Valet service here.
How Do I Know Which Pier I Sail From?
The Port of Seattle has two piers — Pier 66 and Pier 91. They are located about three miles from each other. So which do you head to on sail day? First, your cruise line will let you know where to arrive, but the rule of thumb is that if you are sailing on Norwegian or Oceania, then you’ll head to Pier 66. If you’re sailing anyone else like Royal Caribbean, Holland America, Celebrity, Carnival, and others, then head to Pier 91.
Have more questions about sailing from Seattle? Let us know in the comments below.