Seattle’s 2023 cruise season had a record number of passengers to and from the city, representing a continuing boom to the local economy.
The departure of Norwegian Cruise Line’s “Norwegian Sun” on Oct. 30 was the final cruise ship for the year. According to the Port of Seattle, this year’s cruise season included 291 cruises and approximately 1.8 million revenue passengers, which is a new record.
The port counts passengers both embarking and disembarking, which means over 907,572 passengers visited in the six-month span that began on April 15.
The collective cruise ships bring nearly $900 million in economic activity to the Seattle region, according to the port. The port also noted that over 20% of cruise passengers check their bags early to the Seattle-Tacoma International Airport.
“Cruise ships carried a record number of passengers to and from Seattle this year and a record number of ships lowered their emissions by plugging in to clean, shore side electricity at berth,” Port of Seattle Executive Director Steve Metruck said in a statement. “We look forward to 2030, when we have a goal for every homeport cruise ship calling Seattle to plug in.”
As a result of the increased number of cruise ships, the port also sees an increase in the use of short power, which helps reduce carbon emissions. Shore power is electrical power to a ship at berth while its main and auxiliary engines are shut down. This standard first started in Seattle in 2004.
The Seattle Port was one of the first ports to provide shore power for two vessels at once and the first homeport to offer shore power in general.
The port is currently working to make its third cruise berth at Seattle’s Pier 66 capable of supplying shore power during next year’s cruise season.
In 2022, the Port of Seattle estimated 640,000 travelers came through Seattle on Alaskan cruises. That was a 6% increase over the 2019 passenger volume, according to the port.
The port anticipates 277 cruise homeport calls in 2024, with “very strong passenger volumes,” in turn bringing an even bigger return for the local economy via the cruise industry.