Thursday, 9 June 2011

Cruise Port - Seattle, USA


Seattle is positioned on a strip of land between Puget Sound and Lake Washington. On the western side of Puget Sound lie the Olympic mountains, which fall into the Pacific Ocean, and on the eastern of Lake Washington lie the higher Cascades.

White settlers arrived at the Seattle area in 1850 to establish an outpost they originally named New York. These first pioneers soon realized a better harbor facility was available close by, and relocated to what is now called the Pioneer Square neighborhood. In respect to a local native Indian leader who had aided the pioneers, the new township was given the name Seattle.

Processing and exporting lumber was the first business enterprise of the new outpost. In the fall of 1863, surveyor Edwin Richardson discovered coal beside a stream later called Coal Creek. Almost immediately extensive coal mining began, and coal joined lumber as a principal export from Seattle docks. In 1883 a connecting railroad between Seattle and the Northern Pacific transcontinental railway was constructed, and the town's population soared in the 1890s.

In 1889 the city was almost completely destroyed when a raging fire raged through its center. The burnt-out buildings were replaced during a hectic decade of reconstruction. The new layout included reconstructed piers, municipal sewer works and wide streets.

The Seattle population carried on growing through the early 19th century, as the city’s thriving businesses drew people from as far away as Asia and Europe.

Ship building grew during World War I, thanks to huge demand. The end of the war saw the Seattle general strike, which left the city with a reputation as a nursery of radicalism and socialism. In the following years, the Great Depression hit the city hard, with industrial output slowing drastically. World War II sparked an industrial turn around as Boeing, a previously little-known airplane manufacturer, grew its workforce quickly. In 1962 Seattle sponsored a huge world's fair, the fantastic Century 21 Exposition. The Seattle Center, the Seattle Center Monorail, the Space Needle and the Pacific Science Center were all built for the Expo, and have become much-loved features of the Seattle skyline.

Today the city is a foremost commercial harbor, and the heart of a prominent business area.

From early days the economy of the city has been closely tied with the commercial activities of its docks. The export of timber and coal was the main commercial activity of the docks in the early years. Apart from big cargo ships, small boats plied the route along the coast northwards, supplying resource industries based on mining, timber and fishing. Summer voyages to Alaska were in demand even in the early 19th century, with Alaska Steamship Company selling week long cruises. By the 1950s the popularity of cruises to Alaska had fallen, and the Alaska Steamship Company closed. During the second half of the 20th century Seattle’s cruise ship business was non-existent.

Then in 2000 Seattle once again tried to become a major cruise ship homeport, when the Port of Seattle inaugurated the Bell Street Pier cruise port. In 2009 the Smith Cove terminal was built to further cruise passenger capacity. In 2010 the Port of Seattle boasted 223 cruise ship visits with nearly a million revenue passengers.

You Choose The Cruise

The winters in Alaska are long and cold, so Seattle’s cruising season is almost completely May through to September.

Seattle cruises take a different course to Alaska than those leaving from Vancouver. The additional total distance adds up to around 320 miles, and the quickest way to Alaska is to hug the outside of Vancouver island. This way only became possible for week-long cruises when fastercruise ships were introduced. This outside passage route through the north Pacific can be rough and stormy, and there is virtually no picturesque land scenery for 2 sea days of the cruise. Also note cruise ships will typically call at Victoria on Vancouver island’s coast, as foreign-flagged ships operating in US waters are mandated to stop in a foreign port on their overall itinerary.

A very well-liked route is the 7 day return trip visiting Ketchikan, Skagway, Glacier Bay and Juneau. You will see magnificent coastal and mountain landscapes, mighty glaciers calving into the ocean and historic port towns.

When the Seattle cruise season finishes a range of interesting repositioning cruises are on offer: to destinations such as Hawaii, Asia and Florida.

Cruises from Seattle shows all cruise ship departures from Seattle.

Cruise Terminals

Seattle boasts 2 cruise ports, the premier downtown Bell Street Pier, and the Smith Cove Piers, 2 miles north of the city center.

Bell Street Terminal
The Bell Street Pier cruise ship terminal was inaugurated in 2000 as a important component of a 10-acre, city center, coastline, multi-purpose development. The terminal is located on Pier 66 which has a historic past dating back to 1914. Over the following years the pier had many roles like refrigerated storage, on-dockrailroad station and warehousing. The terminal is laid out over 2 levels, with a modern boarding system giving easy ship access from the upper floor. Facilities comprise baggage handling, concierge, check-in, retail kiosks, rental car kiosk, customs, restaurant and café. A 1700 space parking garage is positioned just across the road. The terminal has access to just one cruise ship berth. The Bell Street cruise terminal hosts Norwegian Cruise Line and Celebrity Cruises ships.

Smith Cove Cruise Terminal
The Smith Cove cruise ship facility is located 3 miles north west from the city center, on Pier 90 and Pier 91. The waterfront was purchased by the port in 1912 for use as a commercial port. During World War II the navy managed the port as a supply point. Thanks to its previous use, the terminal surroundings have a very industrial looking look. Services include customs, luggage checking, check-in, car rental desk, concierge and shops. A 1,000 car parking lot is sited not far away with a free shuttle to the terminal. The cruise port boasts 2 cruise ship moorings at Piers 90 and 91. Smith Cove is home to Holland America Line, Carnival Cruises, Princess Cruises and RCL.

For the port website see Port Of Seattle.

Sightseeing In Seattle

Space Needle
Seattle’s iconic Space Needle is 605 feet tall, and has an exciting observation deck near the top of the tower. You can see the sound, the downtown skyline, Washington Lake and the far-off mountains. Drop by at the souvenir shop for a memento or, for a meal with a twist, eat at SkyCity, the tower's revolving restaurant that turns once per hour.

Pioneer Square
Pioneer Square is the position of Seattle’s first timber mill, the economic hub of the original pioneer township. The great 1889 fire ruined the wooden structures constructed by the town’s founders. Today the district is characterized by 1890s brick and stone buildings, and is bursting with friendly cafes, interesting shops, splendid architecture and art galleries. Pioneer Square is situated about a mile southwards of Bell Street Pier.

Seattle Aquarium
Sited by Pier 59, the Seattle Aquarium keeps an incredible range of ocean life. Watch colorful fish, Puget sound creatures, Lake Washington fresh water reatures, mysterious octopus, the coral world of the Pacific and lively otters in excellently presented exhibits. Take a break at the stylish Aquarium café, and browse the aquarium store.

Pike Place Market
In 1907 a local councilor helped set up a farmers’ market, to cut out the enormous take of greedy middlemen. The market has matured into a vast shoppers’ heaven laid out over 9 acres. Walk around numerous food shops like vegetables, honey, nuts, dairy and bakery, and then to follow an even bigger number of non-food shops including jewelry, leather, goods, basketware and candles. It's often crowded, and busy so you’ll be happy to take a relaxing break and sip a coffee at the first-ever Starbucks, located in the market. Pike Place market is positioned just by Bell Street Pier.

Museum of Flight
In addition to being the hometown of behemoth Boeing, Seattle has an outstanding Museum dedicated to flying. Inspect a traffic control tower, the supersonic passenger jet Concorde, a history of air hostess fashion, an outstanding collection of WWII fighter planes and Air Force One. The Museum of Flight is about 4 miles southwards from downtown.

Olympic Sculpture Park
The Olympic Sculpture Park is overseen by Seattle Art Museum. It is a free-admission outdoor sculpture park with a whole series of curvaceous and thought-provoking sculptures, with a lovely outlook over Puget Sound and the Olympic mountains behind. The park is positioned on the coastline just north of Bell Street Pier.

Getting To The Cruise Ports

Bell St Pier
From the Airport
The travel time from Sea-Tac airport to the cruise port by taxi is in the region of 30 minutes. Alternatively take the Sea-Tac airport to city center Light Rail, alighting at the terminus Westlake. Then hail a taxi or walk to Bell Street Pier, three-quarters of a mile away.
By Car
From the North
Join Interstate 5. Take exit 167, signed Mercer Street/Seattle Center. Make a right onto Fairview Av. Then the first left onto Valley St. Continue along Valley St which turns into Broad Street. When you reach the waterfront turn left onto Alaskan Way. Just before the cruise port building, take a left onto Wall St for the entrance to the cruise terminal garage.
From the South
Join Interstate 5. Take exit 164A signed Dearborn St, James St, Madison St. Follow Madison St/Convention Center signs. Turn left onto Madison Street. Keep on Madison Street until you reach the seafront. Turn right to join Alaskan Way. Carry on for a mile, passing the cruise port to the left hand side. Turn right onto Wall Street to access Bell Street Pier garage.

Smith Cove
From The Airport
The journey time from Sea-Tac airport to the cruise port by cab is about 30 minutes.
By Car
From the North and South
Take I-5 to exit 167 marked Mercer Street. Make a right turn on to Fairview Av North. Turn left onto Valley Street. Valley Street becomes Broad Street. After the Space needle turn right onto Denny Way. The road bends to the right onto Western Avenue. Western Av joins with Elliott Av West. Follow signs for Magnolia Bridge. Follow signage to Smith Cove and cruise terminal.

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