Pier 91 Cruise Ship Terminal
This tip is intended to help those with questions about cruise ship terminals in Seattle. This tip is actually a continuation of my Seattle Getting to Seattle for Cruise Ships tip, which is located at
For the start of this tip series, please see that tip. The two locations have been completely separated as they are two very different locations.
For the best information, please see the Port of Seattle Cruise Ship information page at the bottom of this tip. Be sure to explore the various items (especially the "Parking and Transportation" item) on the menu on the left side of the web page.
In recent years, pier 30 at the south end of the Seattle waterfront has been closed to cruise ships and been reconfigured for container traffic. The new cruise ship terminal is now located at Pier 91, which is just south of Interbay, between Magnolia and Queen Anne, and just east of the Elliott Bay Marina.
It is true that this new Magnolia cruise ship terminal is a lot closer to downtown than it might have been. However, if you are expecting to be able to walk there from downtown, doing so is not going to be very easy unless you are up to a few miles (several km) of a walk. It is possible to get here by bike or walking using a bike path that goes from the Seattle Waterfront through the Olympic Sculpture Park and Myrtle Edwards Park and reaches the cruise ship terminal at the far north end of Elliott Bay Park, but the average person is not going to want to walk the three miles (approx 5 km) or so it takes to go from downtown Seattle to the Magnolia area. This is especially the case if you are taking your luggage with you. However, it is notiable that for those who are up for a bit of exercise, this pathway (which is mixed bike and pedestrian in some places and separated into two pathways in others) is completely level, and has no road crossings between the entrance to the Port of Seattle and downtown Seattle. This makes it a very pleasant walk.
Unlike the Bell Street Pier, public transit is not especially easy to get to from th cruise ship terminal either. There is a road bridge across the Port of Seattle owned land just north of the cruise ship terminal. This is called the Magnolia Bridge (see photo 3). There is a bus stop located on each side of this bridge for bus routes 33 and 24. These bus stops are located approximately in the center of the bridge, where there are ramps that go off the bridge and carry road traffic to ground level off the bridge. The stop on the south side of the bridge is for buses headed towards downtown Seattle, and the stop on the north side of the bridge is for buses coming from downtown Seattle. There is a staircase that goes from the bridge down to ground level, but as of this writing (I just walked over there from a friends house that lives near the cruise ship terminal to inspect the situation there) this staircase is virtually abandoned and is covered in trash and other debris, and really isn't something you would want to climb, especially with a lot of luggage. Also, as there is no staircase connection between the Magnolia bridge and the ground level on the north side of the bridge, so to get from the bus from downtown Seattle you would most likely have to get off the bus, cross the very busy traffic lanes of the Magnolia Bridge, and then descent the garbage filled staircase in order to get to the ground level, then walk approximately 1/4 of a mile (1/2 of a km) south to get to your cruise ship. This just isn't a good way to do this, especially when there are so many good options already provided to the cruise ship terminals.
Please see the web site at the bottom of this tip, which is the official web site for the Port of Seattle Cruise Ship Terminals. There are a number of services at this terminal. Furthermore, hundreds of taxi cabs line up for over a mile to serve this cruise ship terminal. There are also shuttle buses, tour buses, and many other forms of ground transport that arrive and depart this cruise ship terminal on a regular basis when there are ships docked here. I highly recommend using one of those options rather than trying to come here by public transit due to the difficulty of getting to the nearest stop from the terminal.
The Photos and What they Show:
Photo 1: This is Pier 91, with two cruise ships. Mount Rainier is at the far right. Just off the bow of the white ship you can see a ship at the grain elevator north of downtown Seattle, and behind it and nearly impossible to see is a ship at the Bell Street Pier. This should give you some indication of how far that 3 mile (5 km) walk from downtown Seattle would be.
Photo 2: Long lines of taxis, shuttle buses and various other forms of transportation collect at Pier 91 and there is no shortage of ground transportation. Yes, that is an articulated tour bus. I had no idea that they made such a creature, but here it is.
Photo 3:) For those who ask about the nearest public transit to/from the cruise ship terminal, this is where you need to be if your ship is at Pier 91. The bus stops are located approximately where the ramps go off the middle of the bridge and connect it with ground level. Back in photo 1 you can see the stern of a smaller ship forward of the large cruise ships. The bow of that ship is visible to the far right in this photo. This gives you some idea of the distance that you would need to travel to get to the nearest public transit.
Photo 4: Yet more photos of the various ground transportation at Pier 91. What you can't see are the huge lines behind me when I took this photo, as there is now a significant chunk of land set aside for waiting taxis and other transport on the north side of the Magnolia Bridge.
Photo 5: Here is another photo of the cruise ships at Magnolia's Pier 91. Magnolia is to the left, Queen Anne is to the right, and on the other end of the ships is the Interbay area. This photo was taken from one of the ferries leaving from downtown Seattle. I don't mean to discourage those who want to walk, bike, or take public transit from/to downtown Seattle to Pier 91, as I have done that myself using the wonderful bike path that runs north from the Seattle waterfront. However, I was walking to a friend's house, and all my luggage was already there at the house. I wouldn't want to do that with a week or more of clothes in suitcases being carted along! The same goes for using the bus to get out here.
Terminal 91 Bike Path
While it is possible to use this pathway on foot, it is primarily designed as a low-frustration way for bicyclists to connect from Magnolia to Elliott Bay Park and eventually the downtown Seattle waterfront. The only place where bicycles and auto traffic conflict is at a rather busy crossing of the entrance to one of the Port of Seattle facilities.
The pathway is quite narrow in many locations, and there is no direct connection between the Magnolia bridge and the trail segment that goes to the Seattle waterfront.
The trail itself in the area that is known as the "Terminal 91 Bike Path is not extremely scenic, as it passes through Port facilities, but once it enters Elliott Bay Park the trail runs along the waterfront and the view improves dramatically.
For information on the southern end of the park, see Elliott Bay Park and Myrtle Edwards Park and Olympic Sculpture Parks, which is the progression of the rest of the trail along the Seattle waterfront.
As the trail is operated and maintained by the Port of Seattle, the hours of operation are not the same as a standard Seattle park. Figure on the gates being closed about 7 in the evening.
- Hiking and Walking