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The Port of Seattle, celebrating 20 years as a key cruise homeport, has started the 2019 season with the arrival of the first ship, the Celebrity Eclipse, at the Bell Street Pier Cruise Terminal at Pier 66.

The results of a new economic impact report show that the cruise business creates nearly $900 million a year in local business revenue, according to a press release, with each homeport ship call contributing an average $4.2 million to the state’s economy, and supporting over 5,500 jobs.

Cruise vessels made port-of-call stops in Elliot Bay prior to the Port building a homeport cruise terminal. Regularly scheduled cruise service began in May 2000 with a long-term commitment from Norwegian Cruise Line, beginning a partnership that lasts to this day.

“Over twenty years ago this community turned a novel idea into a nearly $900 million industry and helped the Port become the most environmentally progressive homeport in North America,” said Port of Seattle Commission President Stephanie Bowman. “Today that economic opportunity reaches all the way from Eastern Washington farms and ranches that provide food for cruise customers, to King County attractions that depend upon summer season travelers to support year-round activities. Alaska cruises are a ‘bucket list’ item for people all over the world, and we look forward to hosting them for decades to come.”

The Port expects an estimated 1,208,590 revenue cruise passengers this year, breaking last year’s record of 1,114,888.

This year, the Port of Seattle will host the three largest cruise vessels on the West Coast, leading with the addition of the Norwegian Joy, and the return of its sister ship, Norwegian Bliss, both of which carry upwards of 4,000 passengers. There is also the arrival of the Ovation of the Seas from Royal Caribbean, with 4,180 passengers, which will be the largest cruise vessel on the West Coast this season.

“We helped the Port become the first homeport in North America with two berths powered by clean energy. It was a real breakthrough in terms of innovation, and the unique design we built became in demand all over North America,” said Mike Watts, Vice President at Cochran Marine. “Seattle’s ambition to aim for higher sustainability standards created unexpected revenue opportunities for our local business and improved air quality for other cities.”

“Maritime industrial jobs form the foundation for our region’s middle class,” said International Longshore and Warehouse Union President Rich Austin. “Seattle has been smart to maintain jobs on our working waterfront. Figuring out how cruise, cargo, and other maritime uses can work together in our harbor sets the next generation of maritime workers up for success.”

“Cruise season is by far the busiest time of year for us and the benefits of those sales support businesses in three different counties,” said Jon Gores, Sales Manager at Pike Brewing. “We buy barley in Skagit County, hops in Yakima, and brew beer here in King County. We make significant sales both onboard cruise vessels and to cruise tourists who visit our brewery in Pike Place Market. Those cruise sales extend business revenue nearly all the way across our state.”

“For a growing number of cruise passengers, Alaska is just part of the journey,” said Woodinville Wine Country Executive Director Sandra Lee. “Working with travel agents to promote ‘cruise and stay’ packages has led to thousands of passengers taking trips out to Woodinville Wine Country. Our local wine businesses are also marketing heavily to cruise ships to bring that Washington experience on board with local wines and varietals.”

The total economic impact of cruise ships to the state economy in 2019, including direct, indirect, and induced impacts is estimated at 5,500 jobs, $260.1 million in labor income, and $893.6 million in business output, according to the port. Based on these estimates, in 2019 each homeport vessel call on average will support a total of $4.2 million in economic activity to the region.

Port of Seattle Commissioners also approved the Port Valet program last month, which allows cruise passengers to have their bags taken from the ship and transported directly to their airline before departing for Sea-Tac International Airport. Passengers also receive their airline boarding pass before leaving the ship. T

The Port of Seattle is also exploring the development of a new cruise facility at the north berth of Terminal 46 and is seeking a partner to support co-investment into the terminal and to operate the facility once construction is completed.

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