Seattle, USA cruises
Add to that a long-established cultural offering that includes concert halls, art galleries, and museums, and it’s easy to see why Seattle is considered by many to be the perfect place to put down roots, (even more so if you’re a fan of craft beer and coffee).
Top landmarks and sights in Seattle
Seattle Space Needle
As you take to the streets of Seattle, after disembarking your Cunard Queen in port, there’s one landmark you can’t fail to spot and that’s the city’s Space Needle. Located in the lower Queen Anne neighbourhood (no relation to our own Queen Anne), this iconic observation tower is nothing short of a Seattle institution.
Set over two floors, and open daily for visitors, this striking feat of engineering boasts the world’s first and only revolving glass floor. The 360-degree views over the city are the best you’ll find, which shouldn’t come as a surprise considering you’ll be taking them in at heights of over 500 feet above ground.
Pike Place Market
Another notable Seattle landmark that you might want to seek out on your cruise (particularly if you’re feeling peckish) is Pike Place Market.
The self-proclaimed ‘Soul of Seattle’, Pike Place has held a presence in the city since the early 1900s. Open 365 days a year (yes, really) the market spans nine acres of Seattle’s historic downtown and is one of the longest and largest continually operating in the United States. Maps are available to help you find your way around and market tours are also offered by local organisers.
Along with fresh produce, crafts, and artisan products, Pike Place also houses a great selection of independent restaurants and bars – perfect if you’re looking to sample a true taste of Seattle.
Although not strictly in Seattle, there’s one local landmark that we can’t fail to mention and that’s Mount Rainier.
Situated around 68 miles southeast of the city, this 14,410 feet tall giant may be some distance away but it still casts a dominant shape on Seattle’s skyline at certain times of year.
In truth it’s not a mountain at all but an active volcano, last erupting in 1854. Part of the wider, Mount Rainier National Park, the area is rich in a diverse array of wildlife and nature, featuring lakes, glaciers, and meadows seeded with wildflowers.
Top things to do in Seattle
Grab a coffee from the first-ever Starbucks
If there’s one thing Seattle is serious about (besides the Seahawks) it’s good quality coffee. The city boasts hundreds of coffee houses and yet still you’ll find lines snaking out the doors of most of them.
Of all the coffee shops in Seattle, however, there’s one that seems to attract more visitors than most and that’s the Starbucks at 1912 Pike Place. The reason for its popularity? It’s actually the first-ever Starbucks anywhere in the world, serving the now global brand’s signature roast since March 1971.
Inside, everything is original. The floors. The fixtures. The counters. They’ve all been there since day one. The line can seem a little intimidating at first, but these baristas have mastered the art of making coffee at lightning speed, so although it looks long, it does move fast.
Relive iconic moments at the Museum of Pop Culture
Conveniently located in Seattle Center, right by the city’s Space Needle, the Museum of Pop Culture (MoPOP for short) is a museum dedicated to defining moments in pop culture history.
Inside, the interactive displays range from immersive experiences to iconic artifacts, with sci-fi, fantasy, horror, and hip-hop, just a few of the genres paid tribute to.
Also of interest is the design of the building itself. Masterminded by Frank O. Gehry and associates, the outer shell is assembled from 21 thousand stainless steel and aluminium shingles, the colour of which seem to alter their appearance in line with the weather.
Even if you don’t venture inside to indulge in a dose of pop culture nostalgia, it’s still worth seeking out the museum just for the joy of seeing this spaceship-like structure up-close.
See Amazon employees at work in the Spheres
Far from the sterile cubicles of old, offices these days seem to come in all manner of shapes and sizes. In the case of Amazon’s Seattle HQ, that shape amounts to three giant spherical domes.
Open to the public by advance registration on selected weekends (see the Seattle Spheres website for details) Amazon’s unorthodox headquarters look more like a futuristic arboretum than a place to do business.
If you’re lucky enough to arrive on a day when you can step inside, you’ll encounter some 400,000 plant species, sourced from over 30 countries, including a 3,400 square feet-sized living wall. The space is navigated by a series of stilted platforms and raised wooden walkways, allowing you to immerse into the treetops and experience nature from a bird’s eye view.
Eating and drinking near Seattle cruise port
If you’re someone who likes to sample the local cuisine as you cruise, you’ve struck gold with Seattle. The city’s food scene is so diverse, and its position on the Puget Sound ensures only the freshest seafood makes it into its kitchens.
Copper river salmon and oysters are two local staples that are always in fresh supply. Clam chowder is served all over the city and, is so abundantly adored, there are even entire online threads dedicated to the best places to eat this quintessential Seattle classic.
Away from these traditional delicacies, Seattle also boasts a thriving Asian scene, with a long legacy of masterful sushi and teriyaki restaurants in particular. You’ll find the majority of these in the city’s Chinatown International District (or simply CID for short), along with a trailblazing selection of Vietnamese and Filipino restaurants.
For a bit to eat with a difference, try Atmos Café and wine bar on the upper deck of the Seattle Space Needle. Tables are available on a first-come, first-served basis, but the views as you eat are well worth waiting for. Pike Street Market is another good all-rounder, offering a wide selection of eateries, including easy grab & go options.
Shopping in Seattle
Seattle’s eclectic shopping scene is another string to the city’s bow. From flea markets and thrift stores to the latest capsule collections, Seattle caters to every kind of shopper.
You’ll find a great selection of independent boutiques in the city’s Ballard district, perfect if you’re looking for a quirky one-off find. Downtown and the University district are the best places to head for national and international brand names. Several of the city’s malls also have a base here, including Pacific Place, University Village, and the Westlake Center.
If you’re in the market for something locally made and staunchly Seattle, Pike Place Market is your best bet. With stalls selling everything from handmade jewellery and pottery, to candles and artisan chocolates, the list of potential keepsakes to take home goes on and on. As does the market itself which spans an incredible nine acres in size. We recommend wearing comfortable walking shoes!
Getting around, Seattle transport
Seattle is an incredibly easy city to navigate, with an abundance of public transport links to choose from. One of the most convenient ways to get from A-B is by bus (known as the King County Metro Transit) but Seattle is also well connected by Link Light Rail and Streetcar (which, unlike the name suggests, is actually a metro service).
Another, more fun option, is to ride the Seattle Center Monorail. The service connects the city’s Westlake Center mall in downtown to the Seattle Center at the base of Queen Anne hill. The entire journey takes just two minutes, with trains running in ten-minute intervals.
Seattle port facilities
Seattle has two cruise ports, both of which are centrally located in the city. Depending on your date of arrival into Seattle, your ship will call either at Bell Street Cruise Terminal at Pier 66 or Smith Cover Cruise Terminal at Pier 91.
Both terminals offer on site parking that can be pre-booked with the local port authority and are also connected to Seattle Airport by Link Light Rail. For those catching a domestic flight post-cruise, the port also offers a complimentary luggage transfer service.
Seattle quick tips
The local currency in Seattle is the US Dollar. ATMs are available throughout the city, should you wish to withdraw cash, and debit and credit cards are also widely accepted.
You can also change currency at reception on board your Cunard ship, prior to making your way ashore, should you prefer.
Seattle has a reputation as being a rainy city, but it actually only has an average of 149 rainy days a year (to put this in perspective, Miami averages around 135 days of rain a year).
None the less, it’s always best to come prepared for any sudden and unexpected showers when visiting Seattle, albeit the majority of the city’s rain typically falls between October and March, outside of the peak cruise season.
June through to September tend to be Seattle’s warmest months, with temperatures averaging highs of around 22 degrees Celsius in July and August (around 72 Fahrenheit). If you’ve visiting Seattle during these months, we recommend wearing lighter layers and packing something weatherproof, just in case.