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Seattle Washington Port Guide

Cruises from Seattle, Washington depart near the city center, which is perfectly positioned next to the Puget Sound and surrounded by sea, mountains, national parks, and forests. It is a great setting to get you in the mood for the Alaskan frontier if you are departing on an Alaska cruise from Seattle. Located on the border of the US and Canada, Seattle is an ideal location to launch cruises to Juneau, Skagway, and Ketchikan, plus all the other sights you can see on Seattle cruises to Alaska.

Native Americans inhabited the state of Washington for thousands of years before the first settlers ever arrived. When the city of Seattle was founded first as a village, eventually evolving into a town, the settlers relied heavily on the timber found in the surrounding area to help the town’s economy take off.

Seattle was also beneficial during the Gold Rush due to its strategic location on the coast – making it a prime port city for the transportation of naval goods.

Now fully modernized in every aspect, Seattle still maintains its status as one of the most important and active ports in the US – for both cargo transportation and the arrival of guests and tourists via luxury cruise ships. Seattle is called ‘The Emerald City’ for its modernized cityscapes, gorgeous city parks, and breathtaking waterfront views, and it remains high on the list of must-see cities for travelers around the world.

Cruises from Seattle, WA

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Top Sights & Attractions for Cruises Leaving From Seattle

Chihuly Garden and Glass

Centrally located in the heart of Seattle, the Chihuly Garden and Glass Exhibit features some of the stunning glassworks of world-renowned Dale Chihuly. Blending in perfectly with the lush, green garden theme of the Emerald City, the glassworks are on display in an open-air museum, both indoors and outdoors.

Space Needle

Perhaps the most famous sightseeing highlight is Seattle’s Space Needle – also the most easily-recognizable structure in Seattle’s stunning cityscape skyline. Towering over the neighboring buildings, the Space Needle features an observation deck at approximately 520 feet in the air, with some of the most breathtaking 360-degree views. Just underneath the observation deck is a restaurant where you can dine in style overlooking the spectacular city of Seattle.

Pike’s Place Market

One of the oldest farmers’ markets in the US, and certainly one of the oldest attractions in Seattle, Pike’s Place Market has been open for over a hundred years. The fish market is perhaps the most famous portion of Pike’s Place Market, showcasing fresh fish open to the public. Watch as local fishermen and vendors toss fresh-caught fish in the air, passing each fish through the market until it reaches the customer.

Puget Sound

If stunning landscapes and breathtaking views are what make your vacation special, look no further than the Puget Sound. The Sound provides postcard-like views of snowcapped mountains behind evergreen forests stretching for miles until they meet the sea right in front of your eyes. There are even a few popular Puget Sound viewpoints right in the city, such as Kerry Park, that are world-renowned for being perfect for weddings, photoshoots, and landscape photography.

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Top Things to Do in Seattle

Take a Ferry

Taking one of the many ferries available in Seattle is a unique way to see the best views of the city. From the rugged evergreen forests to the sharp, stunning skyscrapers of the city, you can see all aspects of Seattle from your waterside vantage point. Plus, you may just get a chance to meet some of the local marine wildlife that come out to play while you enjoy a peaceful and smooth ferry ride.

Ascend to the Highest Viewpoint in Seattle

The Space Needle may be the most easily recognizable structure in the Seattle skyline, but it is not the tallest. The Columbia Tower reaches heights of nearly 1,000 feet and boasts 75 floors. You’ll be allowed as high as the 73rd floor where the observation deck is located, and it’s here that you’ll be able to take in some of the most spectacular and awe-inspiring views of Seattle and her surroundings – including the Puget Sound, snow-capped mountains, and evergreen forests.

Tillicum Village

Take a boat ride to Blake Island to find yourself in Tillicum Village – the heart of Seattle’s Native American heritage. Learn the history of the first inhabitants of this beautiful land, enjoy interactive activities – such as wood-carving, traditional dance shows, venturing down winding walking paths and hiking trails, and more. Fully immerse yourself in the culture by tasting authentic dishes prepared in the traditional style of the area’s Native American tribes.

Tour the Starbucks HQ

Who doesn’t love coffee? A tour of the Starbucks Headquarters in Seattle is a fascinating and invigorating experience that showcases how the world’s largest coffee chain got its start and how it runs flawlessly today. Tour the facility from its offices to tasting rooms to laboratories where coffee testing is performed daily. Enjoy interactive features of the tour, such as coffee tastings, the histories of coffee types and where they come from, and tips and tricks for making your own special brew.

Top Food and Drink Spots Near the Seattle Cruise Port

Portage Bay Cafe

Although you can stop in for lunch or dinner, brunch is the main attraction for this café, serving huge portions all throughout the day.

Metropolitan Grill

Love a good steak dinner? This is the place for you, awarded the title “Best steaks in town.”

Seatown Seabar & Rotisserie

The city of Seattle is no stranger to fresh fish and seafood restaurants, but the Seatown Seabar & Rotisserie stands above the rest as being one of the city’s best.

Local 360

Local 360 strictly follows a policy of locally-sourcing their ingredients within a radius of 360 miles, making this the most eco-sustainable restaurant in the area. And try their burgers – they’re amazing!

Needle and Thread

Unique because it features no cocktail menu at all, the bartenders at Needle and Thread are ready and willing to create a unique and personalized cocktail just for you. Simply tell them the flavors and ingredients you like, and they’ll custom-make something on the spot.

Il Bistro

Centrally located in the heart of the city, Il Bistro features traditional and authentic Italian dishes with a classic, charming ambiance.

Pike’s Place Market

Not just a fish-tossing market, Pike’s Place Market also features a myriad of local restaurants of all styles – from casual bar and grill atmospheres to fine dining upscale cuisine. The best part about dining here is that many of the ingredients in the multitude of restaurants onsite are fresh!

Culture & History of the Seattle Cruise Port

Dubbed ‘The Emerald City,’ Seattle perfectly balances the bliss of nature and the modernization of urban living. Outdoor events, shows, and festivals are a common occurrence throughout the city, including the lively art and music scenes throughout Seattle. The city is also known for some of its more traditional and historically relevant festivals – such as the yearly Pow-wow, hosted by the local Native American population.

Heavily influenced by a variety of cultures over the decades, Seattle is a multi-cultural melting pot – drawing from ancient Duwamish roots and early European settlers, as well as more recent Latin, Asian American, African American and Nordic cultural influence. This makes the city of Seattle a culturally fascinating place where you can often see two completely unrelated, yet equally significant cultural festivals side-by-side.

Seattle Port Facilities & Location

For an Alaska cruise from Seattle, you’ll board your ship in Smith Cove Cruise Terminal, located about two miles north of downtown Seattle. Nearby, you’ll find a pristine park that overlooks Puget Sound, featuring a jogging and cycling path as well as some peaceful areas that are perfect for a nice stroll.

The cruise terminal and port itself do not have shopping attractions, but you can purchase a quick snack from a local grilling vendor right outside the terminal for cruises from Seattle.

Transportation in Seattle

During the busy peak cruising season, both the port area and downtown Seattle are well-served with ample options for local transportation. From the ship terminal, most visitors on Seattle cruises prefer to take the shuttle offered through the cruise line to the pier. For more private or direct transportation, plenty of taxis are typically found in the area, and Uber is available as well.

Shopping Near the Seattle Cruise Port

Once you’ve docked at Pier 91 in Smith Cove Cruise Terminal – an old naval base about 2 miles north of downtown Seattle – you’ll be only a short walk from several local boutiques in what’s known as the Magnolia neighborhood.

Local Currency & Tipping Customs

Tipping is not mandatory, but it is customary in Seattle, just as it is throughout the U.S. Tips are not only greatly appreciated, but they are quite often a crucial part of the wages in the tourism industry. Particularly for college students and employees in customer service positions, tips are a typical and necessary way to augment low wages. Here are some handy tipping customs to keep in mind

A general guideline to tipping:

Restaurants: 10% for standard service and 20% or higher for excellent service.
Bartenders: An appropriate tip in a bar is 10% to 15% of the bar tab total.
Taxis: It is customary to provide a tip between 10% to 18% of your fare to your taxi driver.
Tour Guides: If you are happy with your tour guide, a tip of 10% to 20% of the total cost of the tour is appropriate.

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Seattle, Washington: Visitors to the Emerald City find a fusion of American, Asian and Native American cultures, set against a backdrop of Puget Sound and the Olympic Mountains. There’s so much to discover on Seattle cruises. Founded in the 1850’s, Seattle continues to evolve while preserving many of its treasured landmarks. The city’s defining modern symbol is the Space Needle. Head up to the top of the 605ft. hourglass-shaped structure for amazing panoramic views of this beautiful port city. And right next door is the Chihuly Garden and Glass where the extraordinary glassworks and garden installations of Dale Chihuly will dazzle. Stroll through the famous Pike Place Market for a taste of local flavor and style. Established in 1907, the market is brimming with fresh produce and seafood stalls, wonderful restaurants, and specialty shops with local handcrafts that make unique souvenirs and keepsakes.