SEATTLE — The streets along Seattle’s waterfront are about to get a lot busier. The first cruise ship of the season arrived at Pier 66 Monday.
The Port of Seattle is expecting a record 1.2 million people will visit the city during the 2019 season.
“We’re going to see ships that can carry as many as 5,000 passengers,” said Port of Seattle Commissioner Peter Steinbrueck.
Businesses along the waterfront are embracing the increased traffic. The Port of Seattle estimates that the cruise business creates nearly $900 million in local revenue.
Steinbrueck said they’re accommodating for the growth by finding ways to make it easier for visitors to travel from the airport and exploring the possibility of building a new cruise ship terminal near Pioneer Square.
“It’s Tax Day, but we think of it as sun day and cruise day here on the waterfront,” said Bob Donegan, president of Iver’s Seafood Restaurant.
Donegan said the waterfront has added a free shuttle to help tourist access attractions around Seattle.
“The second busiest week the Free Waterfront Shuttle has ever had was last week. Busier than Christmas, busier than most of last summer, so it’s growing rapidly,” said Donegan.
As tourist travel around Seattle, Donegan said the homeless crisis in the city is not ignored by his customers.
“They are astonished at the number of people in the downtown, not just the waterfront, who are living on the streets. It’s a big concern for them,” said Donegan.
It’s a concern echoed throughout Seattle that is now being seen by a record number of tourists stepping foot ashore.