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Port Review: Seattle, USA

Joanna Hall

Set on Puget Sound in the Pacific northwest, Seattle is surrounded by water, mountains and evergreen forests, and is a rival to Vancouver as an important departure point for Alaska cruises.  

The Facts

Location: Northwestern USA in Washington State.

Currency: US dollar.

Docking/Anchoring: Most cruise ships dock at Smith Cove Cruise Terminal at Pier 91 which is at the northern end of Seattle’s waterfront. Smaller ships sometimes use the Bell Street Pier Cruise Terminal which is in the heart of the downtown area.

Transport: If you’re at Bell Street Pier, you can easily walk to some of Seattle’s main attractions like Pike Place Market, and from Terminal 91 there are usually taxis outside when cruise ships are in port and it’s a 10 minute ride to the city.


Known fondly as the “Emerald City”, Seattle was originally settled in 1851 and grew from a small frontier town into a teeming metropolis with thousands of acres of parkland. Washington State’s largest city, it’s home to a large tech industry, and the futuristic Space Needle, a 1962 World’s Fair legacy, remaining as one of its most iconic landmarks. Conveniently, the downtown area of Seattle is compact and easy to walk, but remember to bring your umbrella; the city isn’t just famous for being a coffee mecca, but also for rain!

Don’t Miss

History buffs will love the famous Pike Place Market, which opened in 1907, and is the oldest ongoing farmers’ market in the country. It’s a crazy maze of vegetable stalls, cheese vendors, fast food outlets, and seafood joints which are famous for “Flying Fish”. They toss salmon to each other as crowds gather to oooh! and aaah! at the fish catching skills on display.  

The iconic Seattle Space Needle offers stunning views of the city and Mount Rainier. Built for the 1962 World’s Fair, it’s 300 metres tall and is now so kitschy, it’s cool.

The Pioneer Square district, Seattle’s oldest neighbourhood, is also rich in history and architecture and its claim to fame is that it’s the birthplace of the city. Here you’ll find Renaissance Revival architecture, art walks, great restaurants and night clubs and some quirky and arty boutiques.

The Seattle Aquarium is the place to get up close and personal with some of the local marine life and it’s a major attraction in the historic Downtown Waterfront District.

Best Photo Op

Along with the salmon throwers at Pike Place, you can get a great city skyline shot from Bainbridge Island, which is a short ferry ride across Puget Sound.


Pike Place is a good place to start for most visitors, while downtown is a compact shopping area of eight to 10 blocks featuring high street brands and the Westlake Center Plaza shopping mall. Fremont is an arty district, with the Sunday Fremont Market a great place to source retro and vintage clothes and antiques. The International District, or ”the ID” as locals call it, is a myriad of mostly Asian restaurants, shops and cafes and Pioneer Square, home to the first Starbucks, has the most eclectic shops in Seattle.   

Food and Drink 

Seattle is also a gourmand’s dream. The locals are into food in a big way, and the city is packed with eateries of all kinds, from dim sum stands to world class restaurants. It’s a city that’s renowned for its coffee culture and locals have their own favourite cafes and swear by them, with a quintessential Seattle coffee joint on almost every block. There are lunch joints with a difference at Pike Place Market, where you can eat Seattle-style comfort food while watching the market through big plate glass windows, and Elliott's Oyster House on Pier 56 has an outrageous beer and ale list and is a good place to watch the water traffic.

Pick of the Excursions

The most popular city tour takes in all of Seattle’s iconic landmarks including the Space Needle, Pike Place Market, the International District, Pioneer Square District, and the first Starbucks. Some tours also offer a scenic cruise along the waterfront.

Wine tours are becoming increasingly popular from Seattle, and most cruise ships will offer an excursion that takes in several local wineries showcasing Washington State’s fabulous tipples - with lunch often be thrown in as well.

Aviation enthusiasts should head for the Future of Flight & Boeing Factory Tour. The Future of Flight Aviation Center is a cutting edge facility with 10,000 square metres of interactive aviation exhibits including flight simulators, while the nearby Boeing factory is a fascinating look at how the world’s major airplanes are built.


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  1. Posted by on 4th Mar 2019 Verified Customer

    You missed a spot (or two)... 4 Star Review

    While I enjoyed reading an overview of one of my favorite cities, I was disappointed that there was no mention of The Olde Curiosity Shop. Located on Pier 54 (it's moved several times), the store is part dime-store, part gag gift shop, part souvenir stop, and largely and wonderfully kitschy! Stopping in to ogle Sylvester the mummy is worth the trip alone!
    And, although Pioneer Square was mentioned, what wasn't suggested (but highly recommended) is a tour of the older Seattle, which is now underground.

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