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5 Insider Tips for Cruisers Embarking from Seattle


As the embarkation port for many cruises to Alaska, Canada, California, and even South America, the Caribbean, and the Trans Pacific islands, Seattle welcomes thousands of ship passengers during the city’s April through October cruise season. If you’re one of the lucky cruisers embarking from the Emerald City, make sure you’re armed with a few insider tips before setting sail.

1. Arrive here early

Whether you’re flying into Sea-Tac Airport or commuting from out of town, one of the most game-changing plans you can make is to arrive in Seattle at least one day in advance of your embarkation date. First and foremost, early arrival acts as insurance in case of unexpected travel delays — after all, missing your ship after months of anticipation and significant financial investment would be tragic. In addition to the obvious logistical benefits, early arrival allows you to double up on the adventure. Why not prime your cruise experience with some pre-departure exploration? Extend your vacation and take advantage of the extra time to sightsee, tie up loose ends before your journey, or just relax.

2. Don’t rule out airport hotels

When short on time and in need of a place to crash, look no further than an airport hotel. Many of them are budget-friendly (especially desirable if you’re already shelling out big bucks for your cruise), are located within walking distance of the Link Light Rail (which provides easy transportation to and from downtown and as far north as the University of Washington), and offer complimentary perks such as continental breakfast and shuttle service to and from the airport. When it comes time to get to your port for embarkation, SeaTac area hotelsalso serve as stops along local cruise transfer shuttle service routes. For a convenient and affordable option for traveling between your hotel and Seattle cruise ports, try Seattle Express.

3. Take advantage of luggage forwarding

Are you taking a round-trip cruise or arriving back in Seattle at the end of your voyage? After disembarking the ship following a multi-day adventure, you’ll likely want to hold onto that carefree vacation mindset as long as possible — but not much can unravel that faster than hauling around heavy luggage while navigating the next leg of your journey home.

Fortunately, the Port of Seattle allows airport-bound passengers to go luggage-free once offboard, freeing you up to make a few stops before catching your flight or to simply lighten your load en route to Sea-Tac. The best part? It’s all complimentary. If your return flight departs after 11 a.m., don’t miss out on the new Port Valet luggage forwarding service. You’ll simply complete an enrollment form, check your luggage with cruise staff the night before disembarkation, and pick up your belongings at baggage claim once you reach your final destination. Staff will take care of the rest — from delivering your flight boarding pass onboard to sending your luggage to your airline. In the meantime, hail a cab, hop on a post-cruise sightseeing tour bus (with convenient return service to Sea-Tac airport), or explore nearby attractions on foot… all without luggage in tow!

4. Maximize limited time in the city

So you’ve booked your cruise, made travel arrangements to Seattle, and will be arriving a day or two in advance — but how do you make the most of your spare time? Or maybe you’re returning to port with some extra hours before you’re needed at the airport — what now? Is it even possible to explore the city with tight time constraints? No matter your situation, if you have at least three hours to spare, there is a guided local tour to fit your needs. Book a seat on a pre-cruise tour or a post-cruise tour and experience all of Seattle’s best hits, including Pike Place Market, CenturyLink and Safeco Field, the waterfront, the Space Needle, and must-see viewpoints fit for any photo op.

5. Consider special packing needs

Last but not least, you’ll want to pack for all ports of call. Seattle is a popular origin point for many Alaska-bound cruises, and if you’re one of the lucky adventurers sailing toward the Last Frontier, you’ll have some special packing needs to consider. While Pacific Northwestern weather is typically more predictable during the summer cruise season, both Washington and Alaska have reputations for veering off forecast. Clear summer skies in the morning can turn to storm conditions by afternoon, so be prepared for it all. Start by packing a trusty rain jacket, then plan outfits in layers to accommodate changing temperatures. And don’t be fooled by overcast weather — regardless of cloud cover, you’re going to need sunscreen to protect skin from UV damage.

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