Seattle Cruise Port: Terminals, Transportation and What’s Nearby

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While Seattle may be more famous for its coffee culture and bustling tech industry, this seaport city also serves as an important embarkation point for many leading cruise lines.

Whether you are planning an Alaskan cruise that departs from the Emerald City or embarking on a completely different itinerary, you will want to familiarize yourself with the Port of Seattle, its cruise ship terminals, and what the city itself has to offer.

This comprehensive guide will provide you with all of the essential information you should know so you can enjoy a stress-free travel experience. We will cover everything from directions to and from the port to how you can make the most out of your time in the city and surrounding area.

Seattle Cruise Port Locations

The Port of Seattle operates two dedicated cruise terminals—Bell Street Cruise Terminal at Pier 66 along the waterfront near the city’s downtown core and Smith Cove Cruise Terminal at Pier 91, just northwest of it. Given that the two terminals are located several miles apart, it’s important to double-check where your ship is departing from before you set off. 

If your cruise departs from the Bell Street Cruise Terminal at Pier 66, you will need to follow directions to 2225 Alaskan Way, South Seattle, Washington 98121. 

On the other hand, to get to a cruise ship docked at the Smith Cove Cruise Terminal at Pier 91, you will follow directions to 2001 West Garfield Street, Seattle, Washington 98119. 

Distance From Seattle Cruise Ports to the Airport 

Both of the Port of Seattle’s main cruise piers are within a fairly convenient distance of Seattle’s airport, the Seattle-Tacoma International Airport. For those flying into Seattle prior to their cruise, the amount of time it will take will depend on which of the two piers your ship is departing from and traffic conditions when you arrive.

Sea-Tac Seattle-Tacoma International Airport (SEA)
Sea-Tac Seattle-Tacoma International Airport (SEA) (Photo Credit: EQRoy / Shutterstock)

On average, you can expect a 25-minute drive to downtown’s Bell Street Cruise Terminal or a 30 to 35-minute commute to the Smith Cove Cruise Terminal at Pier 66.

Read Also: Must-Know Transportation Tips from Seattle Airport to Cruise Port

With that said, traffic into downtown Seattle can be pretty congested if you arrive during rush hour, so you should give yourself extra time if you are hoping to drive from Seattle’s airport to either pier between 6 a.m. and 9 a.m. or between 4 p.m. and 6 p.m., especially on a workday.   

Directions: 

Seattle-Tacoma International Airport to Bell Street Pier Cruise Terminal at Pier 66 (14.1 miles): 

  • Get on WA-518 W from Airport Expressway (drive for 2.3 miles)
  • Take WA-509 N and Highway 99 N to Alaskan Way S. Once on Alaskan Way S., continue for 1.8 miles. Watch for signs for the Bell Street Cruise Terminal and exit left when you see it. The terminal entrance will be on the right. 

Seattle-Tacoma International Airport to Smith Cove Cruise Terminal at Pier 91 (19 miles): 

  • Get on WA-518 from Airport Expressway (drive for 2.3 miles)
  • Take WA-509 N to Dexter Ave N (after 12.2 miles, take the exit towards Mercer Street)
  • Drive along Mercer Street before turning left onto Elliot Ave. Follow signs for the Smith Cove Cruise Terminal 

Transportation Options from the Airport to Seattle Cruise Ports

For those flying into Seattle, rather than driving directly to their respective cruise terminal, numerous options make it easy to get from Seattle-Tacoma International Airport. 

Several low-cost shuttle services link the airport and the Port of Seattle. With well-marked pick-up and drop-off points at each terminal, this is a good option for those looking to cut down on transportation costs.

Seattle's Smith Cove Cruise Terminal at Pier 91
Seattle’s Smith Cove Cruise Terminal at Pier 91 (Photo Credit: lenic / Shutterstock)

If you prefer to travel directly to your designated departure point, taxis are readily available outside the airport terminals. Not only is getting a cab easy, but all of Seattle’s major taxi companies offer flat rates between the airport and the two cruise terminals. 

Given Seattle’s reputation as one of the major tech hubs in the United States, you won’t be surprised to learn that rideshare services, including Uber and Lyft, are also plentiful and easy to reach.

In fact, you will even pass by one of Uber’s main engineering offices on your way to either cruise port, which explains why so many drivers are available. While these can be affordable, ensure you avoid surge rates if you arrive during rush hour, as it can cost more than a taxi.

Parking at Seattle Cruise Port

Overnight and temporary parking is available at both terminals. Bell Street Cruise Terminal has covered parking on the other side of the road from the terminal and a sky bridge connecting the parking garage to the terminal entrance. There are plenty of spaces, and overnight parking is available for $23 per day. We recommend booking your spot ahead of time.

Bell Street Cruise Terminal
Bell Street Cruise Terminal (Photo Credit: Melissa Mayntz)

Smith Cove Cruise Terminal at Pier 91 also has on-site parking and a free shuttle that helps cruise passengers travel between the terminal entrance and the parking lot. Parking is a little bit more expensive at $29 per day, but you can save $2 per day if you book online ahead of time

Traveling by Train to the Port of Seattle 

Amtrak offers budget-friendly train routes connecting Seattle to other major American cities. If you prefer to take the scenic route to your cruise departure point, you can easily take the train to the King Street Amtrak Station, which is located in the city’s downtown core. 

From the station, taxis take roughly 10 minutes to the Bell Street Cruise Terminal and about 20 minutes to the Smith Cove Terminal. Again, travel times can vary depending on traffic and downtown construction delays, so you may want to give yourself more time. After all, the last thing you want is to be late for your cruise

Differences Between the Two Terminals 

Apart from the fact that Bell Street Pier is located in the heart of downtown Seattle while Smith Cove Cruise Terminal is situated slightly north of it, near the city’s Magnolia neighborhood, the two terminals are relatively similar. 

Both feature modern terminal facilities, including clean and wheelchair-friendly restrooms, numerous seating areas, and information booths. Unfortunately, neither terminal offers complimentary Wi-Fi, but it can be purchased for a small fee. Most cruise passengers find that their cell phone reception is pretty strong, which is rarely an issue for American travelers.

Norwegian Bliss Docked in Seattle, Washington
Norwegian Bliss Docked in Seattle, Washington (Photo Credit: Wirestock Creators / Shutterstock)

The Bell Street Terminal offers a VIP waiting area for passengers who have paid extra. While this isn’t necessary, it can be worthwhile if you plan to arrive early. If you have paid for a suite, you may even qualify for free access to the VIP area, so it is worth checking with your cruise line. 

Where the two piers really differ is in size. The Bell Street Terminal caters more to smaller cruise ships and fewer cruise lines, so it is the smaller of the two terminals. For those traveling on a full-size cruise ship, it is more likely that you will depart from the larger Smith Cove Terminal at Pier 91. 

Accessibility 

The terminal was designed to be highly accessible, so there are plenty of wheelchair ramps. Individual cruise lines also offer wheelchairs and attendants who can help passengers in need of assistance. If you require a wheelchair, it is a good idea to contact your cruise line ahead of time to ensure that they will have one waiting for your arrival. 

Cruise Lines that Use the Port of Seattle

Seven major cruise lines use Seattle’s two dedicated cruise piers. As mentioned, Pier 91 is the larger of the two, so it handles the bigger cruise ships belonging to five of the seven cruise lines:

Cruise Ships Docked at the Smith Cove Cruise Terminal
Cruise Ships Docked at the Smith Cove Cruise Terminal (Photo Credit: Ian Dewar Photography / Shutterstock)

Cruise Lines Operating Out of Smith Cove Terminal at Pier 91 include Carnival Cruise Line, Celebrity Cruises, Holland America Line, Princess Cruises and Royal Caribbean International.

The Cruise Lines Operating Out of Bell Street Pier Cruise Terminal at Pier 66 include Norwegian Cruise Line and Oceania Cruises.

Relationship Between the Port and Alaska’s Cruise Industry 

The Port of Seattle is an essential embarkation and disembarkation point for cruises, with itineraries that take them to explore Alaska’s pristine coastline. Thanks to the strategic Pacific Northwest location of the two cruise terminals and Seattle’s world-class international airport, it is one of the preferred choices for some of the world’s most reputable cruise lines.

Cruise Ships Docked in Seattle
Cruise Ships Docked in Seattle

While San Francisco, California, and Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada, both have port facilities that allow Alaska cruises to depart from them, without the Port of Seattle, the entire Alaskan cruise market would suffer. In 2023 alone, 251 cruise ships departed from Seattle on their way to Alaska. Industry forecasts anticipate this number will grow to at least 275 this year. 

Not only does the port help hundreds of thousands of travelers explore Alaska’s rugged landscape and untamed wildlife, but it has been doing so for 25 years! This explains why the Port of Seattle is considered to be one of the main gateways to Alaska. 

Nearby Amenities

With Seattle being a tourist destination in its own right, many cruise passengers departing from the Port of Seattle will give themselves a few days either before or after their cruise to explore the city. Luckily, there are plenty of amenities and points of interest located within a short distance of the two cruise ports: 

Explore Downtown

While they may not necessarily be within walking distance of the downtown core, the two cruise terminals are located relatively close. Bell Street at Pier 66 is just over a mile away from downtown, so you could reach it with a 25-minute walk, but the Smith Cove Cruise Terminal is over 3 miles away and would require walking along roads that are not overly pedestrian-friendly.

Hotels Near Seattle Cruise Port
Photo Credit: Alexander Oganezov / Shutterstock.com

Whether you walk or take a cab, downtown Seattle is home to some truly iconic sights. We recommend going up the Space Needle for a 360° view of the city and the surrounding area. The Seattle Great Wheel also offers some stunning views of Seattle’s downtown waterfront, and tickets are less than $30.

Worth Reading: Most IDEAL Hotels Near Seattle Cruise Port

Downtown Seattle is also a foodie’s playground; with restaurants, casual eateries, and countless coffee shops, it’s not difficult to treat your tastebuds while you walk around the downtown area. 

Visit the Seattle Aquarium

Seattle Aquarium is roughly half a mile from Pier 66, so passengers could easily walk to it. For those departing from the Smith Cove Cruise Terminal, it would be about a 1-hour walk or 15-minute drive, but it is well worth visiting.

Seattle Aquarium
Seattle Aquarium (Photo Credit: Joy Prescott / Shutterstock)

Located along the waterfront at Pier 59, visiting is a family-friendly activity. View sharks, rays, schools of fish, and a wide array of marine life that is local to the coastal waters of Washington State, as well as species from all over the world. 

Walk Around Pike Place Market

Seattle’s iconic Pike Place Market is just steps away from Seattle Aquarium, so travel times are almost identical. For over a century, the Pike Place Market has acted as the unofficial center of Seattle’s downtown and the heart and soul of the city’s unique culture.

Pike Place Market
Pike Place Market (Photo Credit: Grindstone Media Group)

With shops catering to tourists and locals, you’ll surely find something that catches your eye. As one of the oldest and largest continuously operating markets in the country, it’s not something you’ll want to miss. 

Seasonal Weather Conditions in Seattle, WA 

To make sure you’re prepared for your time in Seattle, you’ll want to make sure that you consider the weather: 

Summer (June – August)

Temperatures usually range between 65° and 75°F, and rainfall is limited. Bring light clothing and comfortable footwear, as Seattle is a very walkable city. 

Fall (September – November)

Daytime temperatures drop to between 45° and 60°F. The cooler temperatures are also joined by increased rainfall and plenty of fog, especially in the mornings. Make sure you bring a waterproof jacket and some warmer layers, especially if you plan on being outside in the evenings. 

Winter (December – February)

Temperatures drop to just above freezing but can be as high as 45°F on warmer days. The cold temperatures also bring occasional snowfall, plenty of rain, and really strong winds blowing in off the water. Wear warm layers and a waterproof jacket. Warm socks and insulated footwear are also helpful. 

Spring (March – May)

Daytime temperatures return to a more pleasant average of 45° to 60°F. Expect occasional showers, but they tend to be brief. Wear light, removable layers and bring a rain jacket or umbrella with you.

Things to Do in Seattle 

As mentioned, Seattle and the surrounding area offer plenty of attractions and activities for visitors to enjoy. We already mentioned exploring the downtown, ascending the Space Needle, visiting the Seattle Aquarium, and wandering around Pike Place Market, but the city offers much more: 

Visit Seattle’s Museums

The Seattle Art Museum is located in downtown Seattle along the waterfront, so it is easy to get to from either cruise terminal. Art lovers will enjoy the eclectic collection and the building’s unique architecture.

Seattle Art Museum
Seattle Art Museum (Photo Credit: Yan AMC / Shutterstock)

The Museum of Pop Culture is another must-see if you plan to take in the city’s real cultural experience. It’s located in Seattle’s Uptown neighborhood, so you can check out the Space Needle on your way. 

The Museum of Flight is worth a visit for aviation enthusiasts. It’s appropriately located near the airport, so if you are planning to visit, keep the roughly 11-mile journey in mind. 

Get a C3 City Pass

For less than $100, you can visit three of Seattle’s top attractions, including the Space Needle, Aquarium, Pacific Science Center, and several of the city’s museums. 

Take a Harbor Tour

Whether you ride one of the low-cost Washington State Ferries or choose a more intimate experience on a dedicated Harbor Tour, you’ll get the opportunity to see Seattle from a unique perspective.

Yachts Near Seattle's Pier 91
Yachts Near Seattle’s Pier 91 (Photo Credit: Nate Hovee / Shutterstock)

If your budget allows for it, we recommend an Argosy Cruises Harbor Tour. These one-hour narrated tours offer an informative and fun way to see the city from the water. 

Discover Seattle’s Rich History and Culture for Yourself

While attractions and guided tours are great, one of the best ways to immerse yourself in everything Seattle has to offer is to simply walk around and discover it for yourself. Explore the diverse neighborhoods on foot, wander into the countless shops, and stroll along the scenic waterfront.

Read Also: The Best Time to Cruise Alaska: Months to Choose

Seattle is a very walkable city; nothing will make you feel more like a local than grabbing a cup of coffee and taking a stroll. Have a seafood lunch and enjoy the salmon, oysters, and sushi the city is famous for. 

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

What port do cruise ships leave from in Seattle? 

Cruise ships depart from both Bell Street Cruise Terminal at Pier 66 and Smith Cove Cruise Terminal at Pier 91. Both piers are part of the Port of Seattle, so make sure you check with the terminal your specific cruise ship will be departing from. 

How far is Seattle Cruise Port from the airport? 

Seattle-Tacoma International Airport is 14.1 miles away from the Bell Street Pier Cruise Terminal at Pier 66 and just shy of 19 miles from the Smith Cove Cruise Terminal at Pier 91. 

How far is Pike Place Market from the cruise terminal?

Pike Place Market is just 0.6 miles from Bell Street Cruise Terminal and 3.1 miles from Smith Cove Cruise Terminal. While you can walk to it along the waterfront, many passengers save time by taking a taxi.

Emrys Thakkar
Emrys Thakkar
The founder of Cruise Hive which was established in 2008 as one of the earliest cruise blogs in the industry. Emrys has been reporting on the latest cruise industry news since the site first launched. Expert insights and tips featured on a number of publications including The Express, Business Insider, and more. Worked for Carnival Cruise Line for 8 years and is well and truly dedicated to cruising! Has also been on a number of cruises so can offer an insight into the industry that many will not be able to do. What's even more impressive is that Emrys has traveled the world by visiting more than 34 countries, lived in China for 8 years, and cruised the Caribbean, Baltic, Mediterranean, Asia, and Europe. Find out more about us here.

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