If you choose a cruise out of Seattle, you are most likely going to arrive at least the day before your cruise. If you have the time, give yourself a few days since there are many things to do. Here are some top tips for this city.
When choosing a hotel, be mindful that the closer you are to the piers, there will be more hills to walk. Most of the streets that head down to the Pike Place Market and Pier area are as steep as some of the streets in San Francisco. This is not surprising when you learn about Seattle’s history after the great fire of 1889. The rebuilding effort literally built on top of what remained after the fire creating the topography we see today.
Lyft and Uber ride sharing are available in the city and quite handy especially if any of the typical Seattle rain is part of your day. Seattle also has Light Rail and streetcar for as part of their public transportation system. If you have a more leisurely schedule, this will be a good option and they do offer a visitor pass for a small charge which gives you unlimited travel for a single day on the light rail and streetcar system. Seattle is also known for their ferry system which can take you to some of the nearby islands or just out on an evening dinner or cocktail cruise.
If you only arrive one day before your cruise:
Book a dinner reservation before you arrive for your first night. Seafood is king in Seattle and there are many great places, but they can book up fast. One recommendation is Elliott’s Oyster House on Pier 56. The oyster menu is an entire page and includes recommended wine pairings. Don’t be intimidated by all the choices. Ask your server for the oyster bar to pick a few different ones. When I went, we ordered two dozen and had 8 different kinds and many that I would have never tried.
If you arrive early enough in the day and enjoy interesting museums, check out the Pop Culture Museum. They have many special areas including a large collection of famous guitars and an exhibit showcasing many sets and props from science fiction movies and television. They also have the best Star Trek exhibit I have ever seen with representation from all the television series.
When I went there was also a special separately priced exhibit for the Muppets. These special exhibits rotate during the year.
The morning of your embarkation, check out the Pike Place Market. You can choose to visit a couple of different ways. If you want a more leisurely approach, take a walk to the market and start at the Gum Wall. From there you can walk in many different directions finding indoor and outdoor vendors. Indoors is where you’ll find the famous Pike Place Fish which you have probably seen on television.
Outdoors you can find vendors of all sorts selling fish, produce and other goods. If you want something more structured and to learn more about how the market works and operates on a daily basis, take one of the many tours that are offered. I recommend Savor Seattle and the VIP tour they offer. It is a smaller group and you will get into the market area before the official opening to the public avoiding some of the crowds. After the tour, head back to your hotel to get your bags and head to the cruise port for your sailing.
If you arrive two or three days before you cruise, here are some add-ons
The Space Needle is a 600 foot structure with an observation deck 520 feet up in the air. It was built for the 1962 World’s Fair and has remained ever since. It also has a rotating restaurant. It is a must for anyone who wants to get a great view of the city, Mount Rainier and the surrounding area. Keep in mind that on cloudy and rainy days, your views won’t be as good.
Bainbridge Island is one of the islands you can get to by using the Seattle ferry system. It is about a 40 minute ferry ride where you may be able to see Mount Rainier on you way. Once you get there, there is an area close to the terminal where you can rent bikes if you want to ride around the island. It is a very bike-friendly place. You can also walk into the main town in about 20 minutes.
The Underground Tour is available if you want to know more about how Seattle rebuilt after the fire in 1889. You get to actually walk under the existing city streets and see what buildings and structures are still there - just underneath the new Seattle. It is very much like walking through a time capsule.
If you want to explore a another fun city, Portland Oregon is only a 4 hour Amtrak train ride. You would definitely want to be able to stay overnight to really get a taste of what the city has to offer. There are some great restaurants and breweries. Highly recommend taking a ride share to Alberta Street. This street has several blocks of interesting eateries and makes for a fantastic pub and food crawl.
This article was written by Glenn Sparks, our cruise reviewer here at Trips with Angie. If you have any questions, feel free to email me.