Port of Seattle Seeking Partner for New Cruise Terminal

The Port of Seattle Commission has announced that it is seeking a partner to develop and operate a new, single berth cruise facility at Terminal 46 and has issued a Request for Qualifications (RFQ). In a prepared statement the port also said that the commissioners have adopted principles to ensure that a growing cruise business increases local economic benefits and maintains the port’s leadership as the most environmental cruise homeport in North America.

“The intangible asset of Alaska cruises creates opportunities for Washington businesses of all sizes, from farmers and wine producers in Eastern Washington to museums, hotels, and restaurants around King County,” said Port of Seattle Commission President Stephanie Bowman. “Our principles ensure that this new cruise terminal will expand local economic benefit, and with the addition of our third shore power berth will make Seattle the national leader in promoting clean, electric shore power for our Alaska-bound cruises.”

Thecruise terminal RFQ is the first step in a partnership selection process that will support the completion of a new facility for the 2022 cruise season. Early estimates are that a cruise terminal could be constructed for around $200 million. A public-private-partnership approach to build the terminal will have the port contributing half that cost. Responses to the RFQ are due April 18.

The Port of Seattle Commission approved a funding plan for this project in its 2019-2023 budget blueprint in November 2019.

According to the port, the opportunity to explore using 29 acres at the north end of Terminal 46 for a new cruise terminal and single berth has come forward now as the Northwest Seaport Alliance works to realize its strategic plan of realigning international maritime cargo operations at Terminal 5 near West Seattle and Terminal 18 on Harbor Island. The cruise terminal project is contingent on the successful authorization of a new lease at Terminal 5 which is scheduled for review at the Northwest Seaport Alliance’s March 19 meeting.

This year, the port celebrates 20 years of service as a cruise homeport for Alaska cruises, generating almost $900 million in annual statewide economic impact and supporting 5,500 jobs. In 2019, Seattle’s cruise industry will serve more than 1 million revenue passengers for the third year in a row.

Seattle’s cruise program supports statewide efforts to expand tourism-related economic activity, which is the fourth-largest industry in Washington. Also, cruise passengers who do stay overnight spend on average $850 per party for pre-cruise and $697 post-cruise.

At this very early stage of the project, the Port is aiming for a partnership selection process that could support possible completion of the project as early as 2022 cruise season. Community outreach meetings, open houses, and tours will begin this spring and continue through project construction.

The planned timeline is as follows: April 18, 2019: RFQ responses due from proposers; late Spring: release request for proposals (RFP) to RFQ shortlist; early Fall 2019: port launches environmental review and permitting process; Fall/Winter 2019; port commission approval of final agreement; and 2022 cruise season: cruise operations at Terminal 46.

Project delivery might change when a partner is chosen and design finalized.


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