Norwegian Cruise Line

More than 200 Cruise Ships headed for Seattle

Before the end of the month, a 780-foot visitor will arrive at Pier 66. And Holland America’s ms  Amsterdam is just the first of many—more than 200 other cruise vessels will dock in Seattle this spring and summer.

Cruise ship season — which brings a sharply growing number of giant vessels like the ms Amsterdam to Puget Sound each year — is just around the corner.

“We’ve been talking about cruise ships for the past 10 years, really because of the significant expansion in our waters” said Marcie Keever, a representative from national environmental organization Friends of the Earth (FOE). “We have seen an explosion of cruise ships. They really are small cities.”

The number of cruise ships docking in Seattle each year has increased from 6 vessels carrying 6,615 passengers in 1999 to 218 vessels with 875,433 passengers in 2009. The Port of Seattle estimates the city will see five more ships this year, carrying a total of 858,00 passengers. The ships will dock at either Pier 66 or Pier 91, which opened to cruise ships last year.

And as the number of vacationers relaxing on cruise ships climbs each year, so does the volume of air and water pollution that cruise lines produce, Keever said.

Federal law prohibits cruise ships from dumping untreated sewage within three miles from shore. International law mandates cruise ships wait until they’re 12 miles out to discharge waste. One a vessel passes sails past the marker, however, no laws prevent them from dumping.