Journalist Georgina Cruz recently visited Seattle, Wash., and wrote about her travels for the “Orlando Sentinel.” Cruz is a seasoned traveler and frequent Holland America Line guest. In fact, her name might sound familiar because you’ve read about her epic Grand World Voyage adventures on the Holland America Blog.
Seattle is not only a key homeport for Holland America Line’s Alaska cruises, it’s also home to the company’s headquarters. In 2015, seven ships will depart from Seattle, and guests can take advantage of a pre- or post-cruise hotel package to find out what makes this city so charming. Read on to see what Georgina recommends to do during a visit to Seattle.
Cruise Port Spotlight: Seattle, Washington
By Georgina Cruz, Special Correspondent
An important departure point for Alaska/Canada cruises, along with Vancouver, about two and a half hours away in British Columbia, Canada, Seattle, situated on the eastern shore of Puget Sound, is also a popular port of call and departure point for repositioning cruises that sail down the U.S. west coast. The city came to prominence in the 1890s, when gold was discovered in Canada’s Yukon and the Klondike Gold Rush was on. Seattle became a provisioning town for miners as well as departure point of ships filled with “sourdough” prospectors who set sail on Alaska’s Inside Passage, the route to the Klondike.
Now Seattle’s cruise terminals teem with modern passengers headed to Alaska seeking to enjoy its golden panoramas of mountains, fjords, glaciers, forests and wildlife. The cruise terminals are a short cab ride away from the city’s downtown and provide panoramic views of the city skyline, the Olympic Mountains and Mt. Rainier in the distance.
A good starting point for a sightseeing tour of Seattle is the Space Needle – arguably the city’s most famous and iconic landmark. At 605 feet high, it was built for the 1962 World Fair –and looks like something out of a Jules Verne novel. It has an observation deck from where on clear days views of the Olympic Mountains and the Cascades as well as the forested hillsides that earned the city the moniker of “Emerald City” can be obtained. The Space Needle also boasts exhibits; SkyCity, a rotating restaurant that makes a full revolution about every hour; and a monorail that provides direct transportation from downtown’s Westlake Center Mall. And the Space Needle is like an exclamation point right on the grounds of an urban park, Seattle Center, with amusement rides and more than 20 attractions including museums and theaters.
A few minutes from Westlake Center Mall, or a short hike from the waterfront, is a Seattle “must-see,” Pike’s Place Market, on Pike Place, one of the nation’s oldest farmers’ market selling produce, flowers, baked goods, seafood and fish. Visitors come to see the “flying fish” – a fishmonger in coveralls and rubber boots throws a whole salmon or other fish someone has ordered, removing it from a counter with ice, calling out the order, and tossing the fish, sending it flying across the room to an attendant at the checkout counter. Also of interest here is the site of the original Starbucks coffee location, which retains its vintage look from 1971.
In addition to city tours, shipboard excursions also generally feature visits to the Seattle Aquarium on Pier 59, 1483 Alaskan Way, with such attractions as playful otters, and Underwater Dome and touch pools; harbor sightseeing cruises – Argosy Cruises on Piers 55-56, 1101 Alaskan Way, is one of the companies who offer them and also feature tours to Tillicum Village, a native village that is site of the Blake Island Marine State Park. For history buffs, there are excursions to the Pioneer Square Historic District, where visitors can get a glimpse of the past in the district’s stately stone buildings that date from the 1890s and in the small museum of the Klondike Gold Rush National Historical Park, 319 Second Avenue South, which preserves the story of the gold stampede.
Local flavors not to be missed include coffee, of course – the city is the cradle of Starbucks and Seattle’s Best — and visitors stumble across a coffee house on almost every block of the city’s downtown. Also a special treat is the fresh catch of the day, perhaps with a bowl of clam chowder and other seafood delicacies at such restaurants as The Fisherman’s, 1301 Alaskan Way on Pier 57, and Ivar’s Acres of Clams, 1001 Alaskan Way.
To read the article online, please visit the Orlando Sentinel.
Have you been to Seattle? What’s your favorite thing to do there?