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Phenomenal growth in the number of vessel calls and cruise passengers boosts local tourism economy.

1 million cruise passengers in 2018 graph

Graph showcasing 20 years of growth courtesy of the Port of Seattle

SEATTLE, Wash. (October 21, 2019) –The Port of Seattle reported on the continued growth and success of the cruise industry in Seattle and King County. The cruise industry hosted 30 million passengers in 2019 and by 2027, an estimated 40 million passengers will take a cruise annually. The rise in popularity and interest in cruises will result in 122 new ships in operation by 2027. The Alaska Cruise trade currently sits at 4.5% of the global market with Seattle at 2% (45% of the Alaska trade).

In 1999 the Port of Seattle saw 6,615 cruise passengers and 6 vessel calls; those numbers have swelled to an estimated all-time high of 1,208,590 passengers and 212 vessel calls in 2019. The projected number of embarkations and disembarkations for 2020 is estimated to exceed 1.3 million engagements. Many of these passengers spend considerable time and money at area attractions, restaurants, and recreational sites before departure and after their return to port. This unprecedented growth has resulted in an $893.6 million contribution to the local tourism economy, $4.2 million in regional economic activity per vessel call, $14.4 million in state and local tax contribution, and 5,500 total jobs created in Seattle and Washington State.

The Port continues to create and implement new programs to accommodate cruise passengers flying to Seattle for a cruise such as the Port Valet program which transports luggage directly from the cruise terminal to the airline, allowing passengers to explore the Seattle area luggage free. This program is unique to the Port of Seattle as no other port offers a similar service.

The Port of Seattle plans to continue to grow the cruise industry in Seattle with an additional proposed cruise terminal in Elliott Bay. Terminal 46 would sit just west of Pioneer Square and the sports stadiums, granting cruisers easy access to some of the area’s top tourist attractions. Projected cost for the new terminal is $200 million, with a 50/50 cost share between the private partner at the Port of Seattle. The Port is targeting the 2023 cruise season for the opening of Terminal 46.


About the Seattle Southside Regional Tourism Authority

The Seattle Southside Regional Tourism Authority (RTA) is the official destination marketing organization for Seattle's Southside including the cities of SeaTac, Tukwila and Des Moines. The organization is responsible for promoting the community as an attractive travel destination and enhancing its public image as a dynamic place to live and work. Through the impact of travel, the RTA strengthens the economic position and provides opportunities for people in our community. Seattle Southside RTA is funded by a self-assessed hotel fund and supported by a lodging tax from the cities of SeaTac, Tukwila and Des Moines. For more information, please visit or call 206.575.2489.



Nick Tolley

Communications Manager, Seattle Southside Regional Tourism Authority

P: 206-556-1327