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Cruise Healthy FAQs

COVID-19 and travel at SEA Airport More Information

What steps are you taking to protect local residents?

Health and safety of our community, employees, and passengers is paramount.  We are actively working to coordinate components of a Healthy Cruise program, which includes:   

  • Adding more health and safety measures to our own facilities to create physical distancing, reduce congestion and contact, and improve air flow 
  • Ensuring transparency with our community by appearing at community organizations, hosting cruise related webinars to take community questions, and working closely with community and industry leaders 
  • Facilitating communication between local health authorities and the cruise lines to offer vaccinations for cruise ship crew. Coordination with response resources and community and industry leaders. 

 We initiated a series of coordination briefings in November 2020 and continued that work as CDC and Congress finalized technical and policy guidance.  We continue working with cruise lines, the Washington State Department of Health, and Public Health Seattle-King County on Port Agreements, which will outline protocols that will protect public safety during cruise operations.  These agreements will cover things that both prevent the spread of COVID, as well as outlining response if there are COVID cases.  Cruise lines will need to have the agreement in place with local providers for both treatment and quarantining passengers, if necessary.  Agreements will cover things like vaccination, testing, mask requirements, including physical distancing. 

Are vaccinations required for cruise passengers?

CDC recommends that all eligible port personnel and travelers (passengers and crew) get a COVID-19 vaccine. 

The CDC gave cruise lines an option to either attest that 95 percent of staff and 95 percent of passengers are vaccinated, or to conduct simulated cruises that demonstrate COVID mitigation measures before resuming operations with passengers. Check with your cruise line on specific requirements.

What about vaccinating crew?

Cruise lines have already begun vaccinating crew. The Port of Seattle also began coordinating vaccination resources for cruise lines in case it is helpful to provide a pre-season vaccination clinic in our harbor.

Fully vaccinated port personnel and travelers are still subject to all of the requirements of CDC’s Order requiring wearing of masks while entering, traveling within or leaving the United States, and in U.S. transportation hubs (see maritime-specific Frequently Asked Questions).

Do I need a COVID test?

Please check with your cruise line for specifics on requirements for embarkation and updated policies.

What are the requirements for resuming cruise?

Cruise lines must meet extensive CDC requirements and recommendations before they can resume sailing.  Requirements and recommendations include safety measures to limit COVID-19 transmission among passengers and crew, capability to assist ill passengers and  crew, reporting and tracking COVID-19, and guidance for local port agreements which must be approved prior to restarting cruise service.  

What will be included in the Port Agreements?

In order to obtain CDC approval, cruise lines must submit agreements with Port and Local Health Authorities. The CDC’s Technical Instructions to cruise lines for these agreements includes the following: 

  • Embarkation and disembarkation procedures including screening and testing and social distancing  
  • Emergency response plans for various scenarios  
  • Procedures and training of land-based staff who are expected to interact with travelers 
  • Cleaning and operating procedures for land-based activities where travelers are expected to gather 
  • Components covering vaccinations component, a medical care component, and  housing.  

We continue to work with the cruise lines and public health officials on port agreements to ensure safety and health measures are in place and that visitors and community have confidence in those measures.   

How many vessels are anticipated this year?

While the schedule is still being developed, we anticipate that approximately 80 vessels could sail a roundtrip itinerary from Seattle this year.  In a normal year we would see just over 200 sailings.    

Will cruise ships stop in Canada on the way to Alaska?

Large cruise ships are still prohibited from operating in Canadian waters. On May 24, 2021, President Biden signed the Alaska Tourism Recovery Act, which temporarily waives the Passenger Vessel Services Act regarding cruises until February 2022. This temporary change will allow for direct sailings of vessels between Seattle and Alaska without a stop in a Canadian port this season.

What changes can we expect this year in the cruise terminal?

The Port of Seattle, the terminal manager, and the cruise lines have been working closely with the local health officials to incorporate layers of safety measures and an enhanced sanitation program at our terminals. These changes support the requirements of the CDC’s Framework for Conditional Sailing Order. Check with your cruise line for specific requirements around check-in procedures. In the terminal, the port has installed touchless fixtures in the restrooms, water bottle filling stations, barriers to limit face-to-face contact, and physical distancing signage to limit crowding and contact.

Has there been an external review of the Port’s safety measures?

The Washington State Department of Health and Public Health Seattle King County are reviewing the safety measures being implemented at the cruise terminals. In addition, the port has contracted with a University of Washington epidemiology expert to review our in-terminal safety measures. We also drew upon our experience operating Seattle-Tacoma International Airport (SEA) to develop cruise terminal best practices.

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