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Cruise Accomplishments in Sustainability

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Toward the Greenest Cruise Port in North America

The Port of Seattle is proud to be the largest and fastest growing cruise market on the West Coast. For over 20 years the Port has prioritized protecting the environment while growing into a $900 million a year industry for our region.

The Port of Seattle is committed to working with our shipping and cruise partners to make Seattle the cleanest, greenest, most energy efficient port in North America.

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 climate change and air quality impacts from cruise ship operations through use of cleaner fuels, access to shore power, and a strong collaborative relationship focused on the environment.

Prioritizing Water Quality Protection in Puget Sound

  • Cruise ships calling on the Port implement rigorous solid waste handling and recycling programs.
  • Cruise lines calling on the Port are committed to reducing and eliminating single use plastics.
  • The Port imposes strict stormwater best management practices for cruise vessel operations while at berth.
  • Since 2004 the Port has partnered with Washington State Dept. of Ecology and the cruise industry in a voluntary agreement, called the Memorandum of Understanding Cruise Operations in Washington State, which helps prevent wastewater discharges from large cruise ships into state waters.
  • Starting in 2020, the Port prohibited cruise ships at berth from discharging exhaust gas cleaning system wash water.

Partnering with the Cruise Industry to Protect Air Quality and Address Climate Change

Salish Sea and Airshed

  • Since 2008, the Port has collaborated on the Northwest Ports Clean Air Strategy. The 2020 Strategy sets a bold vision to eliminate air pollution and be carbon free by 2050 and calls for ongoing partnerships and engagement with the cruise industry, governments, community groups, and other ports.
  • Since 2005, diesel particulate matter emissions from cruise and cargo ships in Puget Sound decreased 84 percent and greenhouse gas emissions decreased 17 percent.
  • The Port 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 regulation significantly reduced sulfur and diesel particulate matter emissions in Seattle’s Elliott Bay.
  • The Port provides clean shore power at two cruise berths at Terminal 91. In 2019, shore power use at Terminal 91 reduced 2,900 metric tons of CO2 emissions and the Port is and is on track to add shore power to its third berth by as early as 2023, making all cruise berths shore power capable.
  • The Port is partnering with its electric utility and waterfront industry to complete a Seattle Waterfront Clean Energy Strategic Plan, which will holistically identify the policies, technologies and investments needed to deploy zero-emission infrastructure—including shore power—and to enable the transition to zero-emission maritime equipment and operations by midcentury.
  • The Port collaborates with cruise lines on an annual basis to share key information on environmental performance at berth, such as the number of shore power connections each season and the types of emission reduction equipment ships have on board.
  • Shore side, over 90% of the cargo-handling equipment at Port’s cruise terminals are powered by clean fuels like electricity or propane.

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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