There are several different boat trip companies operating in Seattle, but by far the largest is Argosy Cruises. They operate boats originating at the Seattle waterfront and several other locations scattered around, including Lake Washington. They have several different size boats, and a wide variety of tours - some of which operate most of the year and others which operate only seasonally.
There is no really good way to describe all of what they do, other than to say explore their web site thoroughly for all the different trips they have:
+ Blake Island / Tillicum Village - this is a unique Seattle experience that visits the island on which it is thought Chief Seattle was born. It includes dinner, a brief series of First Nations dances, and transportation to and from Blake Island State Park. See my Tillicum Village Tip at
+ Harbor Cruise - a fairly short trip to see Seattle from the waterfront.
+ Ballard Locks - a trip through the Howard Chittenden Locks in the Ballard area up to Lake Union
+ Christmas Ships - one of the seasonal trips that does a special Christmas Carol visit to various waterfront parks and beaches in the Seattle area, featuring a parade of decorated boats.
Prices are pretty much what you would expect - kind of expensive but not so expensive so as to keep large numbers of people away, and not so much that they aren't one of the primary tourist attractions in Seattle. Their boats routinely take 300 to 400 passengers, though off-season and weekdays can see lighter traffic on some of their tours.
In my experience their staff are polite and knowledgeable, and their system of working with the public very well organized. For example, even if you pay for your tickets separately, so long as you put the name of your party in the comments field and show up together you can all check in for the trip at once.
One little secret here: the ticket office is located at the north end of the building, and generally closes at 4 in the afternoon. The ticket office on the dock can be absolute bedlam when there are a number of boats departing at near the same time of day. If you go into the ticket office inside the building, however, you can do the same check-in procedure as followed on the dock but usually face a much shorter line.
The Seattle Waterfront is served by bus route 99 and several other bus routes, and this is your best choice if you can use it to get to the waterfront area. Parking, especially during the peak tourist season, is expensive and not especially easy to find. Other areas where Argosy serves have various parking situations.
If you like looking at architecture, particularly homes of the rich and famous, yachts, house boats, water homes, beautiful scenery then this is for you. They narrate during the cruise so it goes by rather quickly.
It is easily accessible by tram or bus.
Warning sitting on the top deck you are subject to seagulls pooping on you. It happened to us. Although it may sound like a long time it really goes by fast. They narrate throughout most of the ride giving the history of Seattle, the native Americans, and pointing out certain sites. The hike around the island is rather long and you will not be able to finish and get back onto the boat on time. The scenery is beautiful. The food is buffet style. You get to watch the salmon being smoked too. It is really good. There is a wood carver who you can talk to, watch, and buy pieces in store . The dance is really short and from what I saw not that great. I went to the bathroom during the performance. The septic system is awful and the smell is dreadful. Despite setbacks I really did enjoy this trip and would go again with someone else.
Take an Argosy cruise to Blake Island and visit Tillicum Village where you can enjoy the fresh salmon dinner and experience the Northwest Coast Native American culture. The meal was really good, and the show was entertaining. I learned a little about the culture of local tribes and the significance of their traditional blankets, dances and masks.
Visit their website at http://www.tillicumvillage.com/index.htm and look for the special pricing. The cruise, dinner, and show usually costs $69 per person, but I got mine for $49 per person.
You also have an hour to visit the beach or hike through the forest after dinner.
There is a company called Argosy Cruises that organizes 1-hour live narrated cruises of Elliott Bay and the Seattle Harbor. A basic cruise is included in the CityPass ticket booklet, and if you don't have this, here are the fees for the cruises. Adults: $12.75, Children (5-12): $6.00. In peak season, the Adult cost sixteen and the child seven. The cruise can be really rewarding if the day is fine, unfortunately I had no option other than Sunday and it was really overcast. Either way, it was still very informative and the skyline looked quite nice out on the water.
You must take an Argosy Cruise when your here. There are several different ones to choose from. They have dinner cruises too, we took a 2 hour day cruise and saw Bill Gates house and the sleepless in seattle house along with some other famous homes along Lake Washington. Very nice and relaxing on the boat, We had a great time.
If you are doing the an Argosy Cruise, try the Locks cruise. The cruise shows you how the locks separate and connect the salt water of Puget Sound and the fresh water of Lake Union via the Hiram Chittenden Locks. You are also treated to views of the city and the "Sleepless in Seattle" houseboat community. After the tour, why not go to the locks and see how they look from above. There is also a locks museum where you can see how the locks work. The cruise is both educational for the kids and beautiful/romantic for you.
This is a picture of us on the cruise. This is when the locks are drained of fresh water and then filled back up with salt water from the other side. Look at the water level!
As the ship went past the shipyard it was amazing to see the barges full of containers from all over the world. We were told that the barges could contain 3 (?) American football fields they were so long!
Views from the Argosy Harbor Cruise are excellent... usually! The day we went it was quite foggy for the first part of the tour, though the views were still interesting. The skyline is gorgeous as are views of the surrounding islands and West Seattle.
This cruise was quite lovely. We had a friend coming from Japan and wanted to show her the sights of Seattle and also a sort of ferry ride. The Argosy Harbor Cruise fit both bills. It is a 1.5 hour cruise around Elliot Bay starting at the piers and making a loop towards Magnolia, Ballard Locks, West Seattle, the shipyard, and then back to the piers.
Though quite cold in February, we really enjoyed our tour. It was rather foggy the day we took the tour though, making it both more and less interesting. Moreso because the skyline took on eerie shapes when blanketed with fog, and less so when the fog was so thick we could not see beyong ten feet.
The ship has both indoor and outdoor areas allowing one to choose between freezing (February) and warm and cozy. We chose the former... although it was a great guided tour just the same.
Fees are as follows for 2005:
$13.75 (Jan-Mar; Oct-Dec);
Children (ages 5-12)
$6.25 (Jan-Mar; Oct-Dec);
Groups (6 or more)
15% off regular prices
A great way to see the city is from the water, so get out onto Puget Sound.
We took an hour cruise from Argosy, which was part of our "City Pass"
Nothing like messing about in boats to put you in the holiday mood. Very relaxing with an entertaining but not obtrusive commentary.
Like I mentioned in the intro, this cruise is a nice way to spend the afternoon and to see the city from the water, starting from Lake Washington. Going through the mechanics of the lock is really interesting, I've never experienced anything like it before. On a good day you can see the mountians...
The cruise is narrated so you'll get all the history and fun-facts you'll need. I wasn't really paying attention; I was snapping away. And there's a snack shop on board too, so you can enjoy all the wine you need. Make sure to prop 'em up firmly when you lay your (plastic) cups down- don't want any spillage on the moving boat..
Of those who are interested, you can also see the industrial/commerial port with all the giant dinosaur-like machinery, the huge tankers etc.
For the animal enthusists, there are the seals, of which you can catch a glimpse of pretty close, hopefully... the array of birds and of course the funny family of little duckies swimming up behind the boat trying to get to the other side of the lock too! They were so cute (as you can see from the other photo).
Once you are done with the cruise, you get off the boat, collect your snap-shots (you have to pay for them) and then take a coach back to where you started from- it doesn't take very long. Maybe 10 mins.
You'll pass by the Musem of Music (I'm sorry I dunno if that's the actual name) and the Space Needle on the way back to Pier 55.
Oh another thing... if you want to rent a little speed boat just for a little private boat-ride, around the waters, you
can too. I was gonna do that but I didn't have enough time. I'm sorry I don't have any information on where to get that organised..
Take an Argosy Cruise through Lake Union and Lake Washington. This is a great way to see the city and experience the natural beauty of your surroundings.
There are several different kinds of tours that you can take with Argosy. There's a harbor cruise, a locks cruise, plus two lake tours.
I highly recommend the locks tour. You'll see the houseboat community made famous in "Sleepless in Seattle." You can also cruise through the Hiram Chittenden Locks (seeing the salmon jump through the locks in the summer is a great experience!). The locks connect the salt water of Puget Sound and the fresh water of Lake Union.
You'll have wonderful views of Mount Rainier on the cruise. The tour is narrated and takes about two and a half hours. This is a must-do activity in Seattle!