Over the years, the popularity of cruising from Seattle has grown steadily. And what’s not to like? Not only is the city one of the most beautiful in the country, with lots to see and do, but it’s also the starting point for trips to Alaska, which offer a chance to see some of the most remote and stunning landscapes you’ll ever see.
Of course, given the location of Seattle, many people that are coming in for a cruise fly into the city. That means you’ll need to find transportation from the airport to the cruise port.
Seattle has two different ports — Pier 66, located downtown, and Pier 91, located just a few miles north from there.
Seattle-Tacoma International Airport is located about 15 miles south of the Pier 66 cruise terminal and about 18 miles south of Pier 91. In other words, it’s a decent distance between the airport and the cruise port.
The most convenient way to get to the ship is just to catch a taxi or Uber/Lyft to there. The ride will take about 25-40 minutes. However, it will also cost you about $50-60 for the ride.
The good news is that you can get there using public transportation for drastically less money. It’s not quite as convenient, but still easily managed by most people. As well, the cost is just a few dollars, making it the cheapest way to get to the Port of Seattle from the airport.
Here’s the step-by-step process from our first-hand experience taking the route to Pier 66 and Pier 91.
Step-By-Step: Riding From Seattle-Tacoma Airport to the Port of Seattle
Flying in for your cruise? If you want to head directly to the port, then you can get there in about 40 minutes using the Link Light Rail.
As an overview of the trip between the airport and cruise port, if you are headed to Pier 66, then you’ll ride the Link Light Rail and walk 10-15 minutes to the terminal. If headed to Pier 91, then you’ll ride the light rail and then catch a taxi or Uber/Lyft the rest of the way to the pier.
Arriving at the Seattle-Tacoma airport, you will follow the signs for ground transportation and baggage claim as you exit the plane. Once at baggage claim, look for signs pointing to “Link Light Rail.”
This will lead to a skybridge that exits the airport terminal and then enters the fourth level of the parking garage. From there, continue following the signage for the light rail. It is a decent walk — about 5-10 minutes. There is a shuttle offered, but in our experience, it was faster to walk than wait on the shuttle.
Reaching the light rail station at Sea-Tac, look for the large “Orca” machines selling rail tickets. You enter the stop you want, and it will calculate the fare. For the cruise ports, you will be getting off the train at the Westlake stop. The ticket should only be $3. You’ll then head up the escalator to catch the train. Depending on the time of day, trains run roughly every 10 minutes.
You want to board the northbound train heading toward Northgate.
Once boarded, you’ll find a seat and wait for the Westlake station. It’s 12 stops from the airport. For our ride, it took about 40 minutes. Even riding on a Monday in the middle of the day, the train was never too crowded and there were always seats available.
At the Westlake station, you’ll exit the train and then ride escalators up to the street level. There are several exits from the station. For Pier 66, you’ll want to exit “C1 3rd Ave & Pine” as this exit puts you the closest to the cruise port.
Exiting the building, you’ll walk down Pine Street, which dead ends into the famous Pike Place Market. You know you are headed in the right direction when you see the famous “Public Market” sign.
Once you reach Pike Place Market, take a right but then continue to walk on the left hand side of the street. This will take you down Elliott Avenue to Bell Street. There, you will see signs for Pier 66 and a large walking bridge over the road. You’ll walk over this bridge, which leads right to the terminal and then down to go to the entrance.
Step 3 (Alternate for Pier 91)
Pier 91 is a few miles north of downtown Seattle. The Westlake station is still the closest light rail stop to the pier, so you’ll want to exit the train there.
But once you exit the station, you will still need to travel the distance to Pier 91. For that, we recommend an Uber or Lyft. During our trip, the Lyft ride took only about 10 minutes to get from downtown to Pier 91 and cost about $20, compared to the $50-60 going directly from the airport to the terminal.
Summing Up How to Take the Light Rail to the Cruise Port
To make things simple, here’s a recap of how to get from Seattle-Tacoma International to the Seattle cruise ports.
- After arriving at the airport, head toward baggage claim and then follow signs for Link Light Rail.
- At the airport’s station , purchase a ticket ($3) and board the northbound train.
- Ride the train to the Westlake Station (approximately 40 minutes).
- Walk the 10 minutes to Pier 66. If headed to Pier 91, you can catch an Uber/Lyft here for much cheaper than riding from the airport.
Is the Link Light Rail Worth It?
There’s no arguing that catching a cab or Uber direct from the airport to the cruise port is the fastest and most convenient way to get to the ship. However, it’s also pricey.
If sailing from Pier 66, then we’d say that it’s absolutely worth it to take the Link Light Rail to your ship. For only $3 per person and walking about 10 minutes, you can get from the airport to the cruise terminal. And it doesn’t take that much longer than if you had a more expensive taxi cab or Uber.
If sailing from Pier 91, then it can still save you money, but it’s not quite as good a deal. In that case you’ll still need to find a ride from downtown to the pier, which runs about $20. Still, for under $25 for both the train ride and the car ride, you are paying about half as much as it costs to go directly from the airport to the cruise port when using Uber/Lyft (and it only takes slightly longer).
In that case, if you are looking to save some considerable money and don’t mind walking a little bit, then the light rail makes a smart option.