In April, 2020, the Port of Seattle suspended its planning for a new cruise terminal to serve the Alaska market.
This move was said at the time to be due to a need to better understand the short and long-term cruise industry market impacts from COVID-19 before continuing its project investment in additional cruise facilities.
As a result of this current analysis, the Port said that it will cancel its request for industry proposals for a joint investment to build and operate a proposed new cruise terminal at the preferred location of Terminal 46.
“Our current focus remains on public health,” said Port of Seattle Executive Director, Steve Metruck. “We continue to work with public health partners and cruise stakeholders to determine the enhanced procedures that will make our cruise passenger terminals and facilities safe for the community, passengers and crew in 2021.
“The last two decades of growth indicate that there is durable demand for Seattle cruises. When we can, we will convert that demand into more business opportunities and jobs for our region,” he said.
Prior to the COVID-19 pandemic, the Seattle had forecast a record year for 2020 with 233 cruise vessels scheduled to sail from Seattle. With an estimated 1.3 mill passengers expected to travel to and from the terminals this season, the cruise operation supported 5,500 jobs, and provided nearly $900 mill in economic activity for the region.
Seattle claimed to be the only homeport in North America with a voluntary clean water agreement between the Port, the cruise lines and state regulators. On the shore side, over 80% of the cargo-handling equipment at the Port’s cruise terminals are powered by clean fuel technology.
An early adopter of clean electric ‘shore power’ for ships berthed, the Port provided clean shore power at two of the cruise berths at Terminal 91.
Previous analysis of the cruise market and cruise ship deployment had supported the need for a fourth berth to meet the demand for Seattle’s cruise services.
The Port of Seattle and Northwest Seaport Alliance said that they will continue with the projects to make Terminal 46 more sustainable and durable for long-term general maritime use, including installing stormwater treatment infrastructure and rehabilitating the dock. Vessel berthing and maritime support will also continue on the terminal.
The Port said that it will prepare a recommendation for the Cruise Terminal Project when there is greater certainty about demand for Seattle’s cruise services.