Port of Seattle Expands Shore Power for Cruise Ships

Contractors installed a subsea power cable across Elliott Bay to supply Pier 66 (Port of Seattle)
Contractors installed a subsea power cable across Elliott Bay to supply Pier 66 (Port of Seattle)

Published Apr 8, 2024 9:10 PM by The Maritime Executive


Cruise ships sailing into the port of Seattle for the 2024 season will plug in to shore power at the Bell Street Pier Cruise Terminal at Pier 66.

After a $44 million investment in shore power infrastructure and equipment, all three cruise berths at Pier 66 are now electric. In effect, this advances plans by the facility to become the greenest port in North America with the 2024 Cruise Season seeing more vessels plug into shore power at Pier 66.

Allowing cruise ships to turn off diesel engines and use clean electricity at berth is a major strategy in cutting emissions. It takes an average of 10 hours for ships to offload guests and their luggage, load provisions, welcome new guests and prepare for the next departure each time a vessel docks in Seattle.

As a result, each cruise ship that plugs in can reduce diesel emissions by 80 percent and CO2 emissions by 66 percent on average.  

The port of Seattle also has two shore power connected berths at Pier 91. With the additional installation, 66 percent of cruise ship calls are expected to plug into shore power this season.   

“Our objective is to provide a road map for maritime leaders worldwide that demonstrates the viability of a greener industry, one that serves our communities and passengers while minimizing environmental and social impacts,” said Ryan Calkins, port of Seattle Commissioner.

He added that the port is also working in partnership with cruise ports in Alaska, Victoria, and Vancouver B.C. and the cruise industry to explore the world’s first cruise-focused green corridor. Through the Pacific Northwest to Alaska Green Corridor project, the partners are currently studying the feasibility of cruise ships sailing on alternative fuels like green methanol in the Alaska market.  

After a record breaking season last year that hosted 291 cruises with a record 1.7 million revenue passengers, the port of Seattle is projecting a flat growth in passenger numbers and decline in ship calls this year. A total of 275 cruise calls are expected this year, with the number of revenue passengers projected at 1.7 million, which comes out to more than 800,000 unique passengers. The cruise tourism industry remains critical to Seattle, generating nearly $900 million in economic impact each year.