Norwegian Cruise Line is building a new, larger ship to carry passengers — 4,000 at a time — from Seattle to Alaska.
Norwegian Cruise Line will debut a mammoth new ship able to carry 4,000 passengers on Seattle-Alaska cruises beginning in 2018, the company said Thursday.
Norwegian, which has a deal with the Port of Seattle to expand its Pier 66 cruise terminal in a $30 million joint project, now operates two 2,400-passenger ships out of Seattle during the summer.
Andy Stuart, president and CEO of Norwegian, said one of those will remain on the route to supplement the planned Norwegian Bliss. That ship will be built in Germany and delivered in time to begin weekly seven-day cruises along Alaska’s Inside Passage in June 2018.
The new Norwegian cruise ship would be by far the largest sailing out of Seattle — the biggest current ones are two Princess vessels and Royal Caribbean’s Explorer of the Seas, each carrying about 3,000 passengers, said Port of Seattle spokesman Peter McGraw.
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Norwegian’s larger ship will have a crew of 1,800, versus 850 on the existing ships, Stuart said. Norwegian’s expansion of the terminal, under an agreement announced last summer, will take the facility from 44,000 square feet to 151,000.
Altogether, said Port of Seattle CEO Ted Fick, “It’s a big darn deal for Seattle. Every ship call is at least $2.5 million impact for Seattle.”
He added that the Port separately plans $20 million in improvements to the Bell Harbor Conference Center adjacent to Pier 66. The first portion was just approved by the Port commission, Fick said.
Stuart noted that Norwegian was the first cruise line to begin Alaska sailings out of Seattle rather than Vancouver, B.C. Now there are seven lines that run that route, using 11 vessels.
Collectively, they carried 898,000 passengers during the 2015 season, and upward of 960,000 this summer, said Fick.
The Port expects that number to surpass 1 million next summer.
This story was updated on Oct. 14 to include mention of Royal Caribbean’s largest cruise ship here.