Seattle is home to the Puget Sound; a picturesque waterway that is crowned with the breathtaking Olympic Mountains and trimmed with an outstanding waterfront. I have been up and down the piers in Seattle a hundred times and I still love it every time! It’s fun, lively and beautiful. It is a cruise ship mecca for cruises to Alaska and for other sailing excursions, such as the Victoria Clipper Ferry that goes to Canada. Surprisingly, it also seems easy for cruise ship passengers to end up at the wrong pier or even the wrong address altogether. So let’s review. If you have done your pre cruise check in and have the address written down you can still read on to see what is close to your pier.
Pier 66 Bell Street Pier: Address: 2225 Alaskan Way. This pier is centrally located and very close to some great restaurants; like Anthony’s Pier 66 and one of my faves, the Crab Pot! This vibrant waterfront is a great place to rent a bike, watch the ships and ferries come in and out, experience the amazing street artists; whose creativity I envy. On the boardwalk is the best place for these street performers and pop up vendors. Sometimes you can spot Darth Vader or Spider Man. You can get your picture taken with them, just be nice and tip. The Aquarium and Olympic Sculpture Park are within walking distance. The Washington State Ferries go out every 30 minutes to Bainbridge or Bremerton from Pier 52, Colman Dock. The Great Wheel is also right on the waterfront and although it’s okay I don’t know if it’s worth price; maybe at night. If you get a chance check out Magic Mouse Toys(601 1st Ave S) it seems like a tiny little corner store-and it is, on the first level. But it has hidden levels and secret sections and actually goes on forever! Lego rooms, Puzzle rooms, walls of stuffed animals and some really cool books. The waterfront is where you will find Wings Over Washington, a state of the art “flying theatre” http://www.wingsoverwa.com/ and 2018 Distillery of the Year winner Copperworks on Alaskan Way https://copperworksdistilling.com/ Other cool spots are the Seattle Pinball Museum and Paramount Theatre.
If you have a little bit of time travel up to Pike Place Market where there is a smorgasbord of fresh farm vendors, fish, flowers and all sorts of eclectic stores. There is always someone playing music. Don’t miss Beechers Homemade Cheese(1600 Pike Pl). Not only can you see the cheese being made you can get free samples of all the product; major yummy! The market is very busy and packed; full of shopping-and people and fish smells but it’s a great and authentic Seattle experience. I love to come here and get samples from the vendors and buy fresh bouquets of flowers.
FYI, Seattle is built on a fairly steep hill. If walking up hill isn’t for you you can bus it or get a cart pulled by a bike to drive you. Beware-they drive like crazy people nevertheless, they are friendly and fast Just try it once.
That being said, only 4 ships depart from Pier 66. Oceania’s Regatta and NCL’s Pearl, Sun and her newest vessel the megaship Bliss. Most cruise ships depart from Pier 91. The piers are only 3 miles apart, but traffic in Seattle can be a travesty. The map says 8 minutes, I wouldn’t count on it. One Saturday night it took us over 30 minutes to go 5 miles. Keep traffic conditions in mind. Also, because of all the highway traffic and the hilly terrain I wouldn’t recommend walking either. Seattle does have a pretty decent transit system though. Personally, I prefer Lyft.
Pier 91 Smith Cove Terminal:Address: 2001 W Garfield Way. The busiest cruise port in Seattle-and the largest is located further north from the Airport than Pier 66 and the starting point for the vast majority of Alaska cruises. Unlike it’s sister port once you walk outside the warehouse structure of the loading terminal there is nothing right outside the door. Smith Cove is reached by Magnolia Bridge and crossing it back to the city is the only way to reach all the attractions. The Space Needle, Pacific Science Center, the International Fountain and Seattle City Center are all packed together and is a mere 2.2 miles away. The City Center has a indoor stage that will have concerts and performances that are always free. The food is expensive and most of them are chain restaurants but tucked in the corner you can find Seattle’s Fudge which should definitely be tried! The Children’s Museum is also in the complex. If it’s nice though go outside the kids have free playground and the International Water Fountain is always entertaining and cool-figuratively and literally. The Space Needle recently had a glass floor put in, which is bold but it would be jarring if you are afraid of heights.
The Chihuly Glass Garden is better than I thought it was going to be. I was just bitter because they tore down the outdoor carnival like area I use to take my kids to when they were young. It had a carousel, putt-putt golf, laser tag and bumper cars! My boys loved it, but it’s now gone to show off glass art! But, I have to say, it is quite impressive! I have been twice and I would highly recommend it. Bring a good camera! It’s both an indoor and outdoor exhibit with demonstrations. If you are a Washington resident you get discount.
The Monorail is a quick train from the Space Needle to Westlake Shopping Center and the heart of Seattle and brings you to the transit tunnels which run all through the city. If time affords, take the light rail to the University of Washington. The campus is absolutely beautiful! The very old world architecture, stunning grounds and expansive areas are inspiring. Discovery Park is another not to be missed outdoor area and is 3.4 miles from the ship terminal. Most of the places to explore in Seattle should really be done the day before or after the cruise so that you have more time to really get to make the most of your time in the Emerald City.
What the ports offer: So, this was actually the hardest part to find out. The sites for the ports are generally vague on details and when I called I got different answers so I emailed the CTO OPS and they were very helpful. So here is the exact answer on luggage storage: Both terminals offer luggage storage on cruise days only from 7:30a.m. to 3:30p.m. on cruise days only. Luggage storage is found at the concierge area in both terminals and is $3.00 a bag. Bags are not checked through to the ships for embarking passengers. Check with your cruise line when your check in time begins-sometimes it’s on your boarding pass. Generally, it’s 10:00a.m. A great service that is offered by the Port of Seattle is a luggage valet service post cruise. It’s a complimentary service that you sign up for on your ship and get your luggage straight to the airport when the cruise is over. It’s so convenient, seamless and helps de-stress post vacation. Click on the link for specifics: https://www.portseattle.org/page/port-valet-enjoy-seattle-luggage-free
Pier 91’s services include: Complimentary shuttle from parking to terminal, RV and trailer parking, a rental car kiosk, cell phone waiting area, wheelchair, scooter and oxygen rentals. The equipment can be delivered directly to the state room. The drop off/pick up area is pretty smooth compared to some other places I have seen. https://www.portseattle.org/places/smith-cove-cruise-terminal-pier-91
Pier’s 66’s services are pretty much the same. Special needs equipment works the same, the parking is a garage, not a lot and a shuttle is not needed. Drop off and pick up is also the garage. Recreation and restaurants are much more accessible here, but there is no rental car kiosk and no rv or trailer parking. https://www.portseattle.org/places/bell-street-cruise-terminal-pier-66
Another popular pier to catch a ship is Pier 69. Home of the Victoria Clipper, a high speed ferry from Seattle to Victoria BC. However, Victoria Clipper also offers some great vacation packages that include hotel stays, whale watching, food and wine tours, golf and nature packages. The Clipper Vacations can include jaunts to San Juan and Vancouver. The pier address is:2701 Alaskan Way. Parking is at the Bell Street Pier Garage and they do validate. Next to the luggage check in is a small cafe that offers beverages, coffees, snacks and meals. The Clipper Ferry itself is seasonal, as are the packages so book early. This pier is really close to the Bell Street Pier so is also close to many things. FYI, I absolutely LOVE the Victoria Ferry area! It is so charming! The Empress Hotel is majestic and lights up at night that reflect in the Harbor. The whole area is pristine and beautiful and worth checking out. If you take a cruise to Alaska the ships dock at Ogden Point terminal in Victoria and you can walk to the Inner Harbour/downtown area, or you can take a bus in. We walked and found a fun park where wild peacocks were roaming freely and the tall trees were begging to be climbed.
Back to the reason that the address for these pier is so important. Both Princess and Holland have corporate offices in Seattle. So if you are Google searching for Princess or Holland make sure you go to Smith Cove Terminal NOT the offices!
If you have any comments, questions or want to add any info please add a comment or you can leave your email and I will respond.
May the wind always be at your back!
Note: I am a licensed travel agent with Expedia and have included a link to my site to help you get quotes for Alaska cruises. Another great port for Alaska cruises is Vancouver, CA. The Disney Wonder sails out of Vancouver for 5, 7 and 9 night sailings.