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Cruise Accomplishments in Sustainability

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The Port of Seattle is proud to be the largest and fastest growing cruise market on the West Coast. For the past 14 years the Port has prioritized protecting the environment while growing into a nearly $900 million a year industry for our region.

We’re proud to be the only homeport in North America with a voluntary clean water agreement between the Port, the cruise lines and our regulators. Beyond compliance, the Port works closely with the industry to minimize the air quality impacts of cruise ship exhaust.Salish Sea and Airshed

Protection of Water Quality in Puget Sound and Washington Waters

  • The Port and the cruise industry have demonstrated leadership by managing wastewater discharge long before regulatory requirements.
  • In continued support of the protection of Puget Sound, for the past seven years all cruise ships visiting the Port of Seattle have elected not to discharge at all in Washington Waters.
  • The cruise ships entering the Port of Seattle implement  rigorous solid waste handling and recycling programs that further support our environmental values here in Washington.
  • The Port also has rigorous stormwater best management practices for cruise vessel maintenance and operations while at-berth.
  • In 2004 the Port of Seattle partnered with the Washington State Department of Ecology and the cruise industry to sign the Memorandum of Understanding Cruise Operations in Washington State, ensuring cruise ships exceed industry, state, and federal environmental performance standards.This agreement requires the highest treatment level and bans discharges near shellfish beds and the discharge of untreated graywater.

Protection of Air Quality 

  • Emissions from ocean going vessels, including cruise ships entering Puget Sound, have decreased by more than 67 percent over the last 10 years.
  • To improve air quality while at berth, cruise vessels use clean energy options such as shore power, exhaust scrubber technology or low sulfur fuels.
  • The Port provides clean shore power at two cruise berths at Terminal 91, the first homeport in the world to do so, and is exploring opportunities to further expand shore power. Many cruise ships have installed advanced emission purification systems called “scrubbers,” another method to clean their exhaust.
  • Harmful air emissions decreased in nearly every maritime sector between 2005 and 2016 because of investments by the maritime industry and ports.
  • The Port of Seattle was an early supporter of international regulations to establish the North American Emission Control Area which limits the sulfur content in fuels burned in ships when they are within 200 miles of the coast. This has significantly reduced sulfur emissions and air-quality related health impacts.
  • On the shore side, over 80% of the cargo-handling equipment at Port’s cruise terminals are powered by clean fuel technology.
  • Looking forward, the Port is implementing a Northwest Ports Clean Air Strategy in collaboration with our northwest port partners aimed at reducing diesel particulates and greenhouse gases emissions from shipping and port operations throughout our airshed.
  • The Port of Seattle is committed to working with all our shipping and cruise partners to make Seattle the cleanest, greenest, most energy efficient port in the nation.

Cruise Is a Key Port Industry

Seattle's cruise industry is a major economic driver for the region. The cruise business creates nearly $900 million a year in local business revenue, with each homeport ship call contributing an average $4.2 million to the state’s economy, and supporting over 5,500 jobs.

The Port of Seattle can handle some of the largest vessels in the world, with a natural deep water port, and award-winning world-class cruise facilities that will process over one-million revenue passengers for the second year in a row.

Port of Seattle Cruise terminals offer convenience in a spectacular setting with two cruise terminals located on the downtown waterfront, including easy access to Sea-Tac International Airport.

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