Seattle’s cruise season projects fewer sailings, but still up from pre-2020

The Center Square

Seattle’s 2024 cruise season launched this past weekend, with Port of Seattle officials anticipating slightly fewer sailings than last year.

Port officials project the 2024 season – which runs from April 6 to Oct. 28 – will see 275 sailings. That is 16 fewer than last year's record-setting 291 sailings.

Peter McGraw told, the port's media officer, told The Center Square that the variation in number of calls year-over-year is mostly related to the early and late season arrival to Alaska and when vessels depart for their “winter home.” 

In some cases, vessels may need to go into drydock for regular maintenance which impacts their transition timing. Additionally, some Seattle calls are “in-transit” as they head to their summer home in Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada. 

“The number of these stopping in Seattle as a port call varies year-over-year, hence the variation in number,” McGraw told The Center Square in an email.

McGraw noted that the 275 projected sailings from the Seattle Port is still a bigger number than prior to the COVID-19 pandemic. 

“So you can say the industry has recovered,” McGraw added.

Despite the slight drop in sailings, the port continues to estimate that cruise ships bring in around $900 million in economic activity to the Seattle region, which was how much last year’s cruise season generated.

“Cruising to Alaska is an extraordinary experience, and 63% of travelers first visiting Seattle for a cruise return for a longer stay, furthering the economic impact to local businesses,” Cruise Lines International Association Public Affairs Vice President Sally Andrews said in a news release.

This year marks 25 years of cruises traveling between Seattle and Alaska. The first ship set sail from the Port of Seattle to Alaska in May 2000. Since then, the cruise industry has grown from 36 ship calls to the 275 projected this year.

“Over the last 25 years, the cruise business has become a significant part of our local economy, contributing to hundreds of businesses and thousands of jobs,” said Port of Seattle Commissioner Ryan Calkins.