Norwegian Cruise Line Holdings ships can now sail from the Port of Seattle. // © 2015 Port of Seattle
Feature image (above): Seattle’s ports serve seven major cruise lines. // © 2015 Port of Seattle
Norwegian Cruise Line Holdings (NCLH), parent company of Norwegian Cruise Line, Oceania Cruises and Regent Seven Seas Cruises, has given the Port of Seattle an important vote of confidence in its Alaska business. The port and NCLH have signed a landmark 15-year lease that commits the company’s ships to sail from Seattle for the full term of the lease and provides passenger volume guarantees estimated to bring in $73 million in revenue during the length of the partnership. A five-year extension option will be discussed at the end of 15 years.
In addition, there will be improvements — estimated at $30 million — to the Bell Street Cruise Terminal, with the capital investment shared between the port and the cruise company. Space for arriving and departing passengers will increase from 44,262 to 151,471 square feet, in addition to two new gangways and an automatic conveyer system to move luggage from curbside to ship.
Under the new lease, NCLH will manage the cruise operations at Bell Street Cruise Terminal’s Pier 66 and will have priority rights to the cruise vessel berth during the cruise season. The port will operate the facilities outside the cruise season. The port negotiated an early lease termination with Cruise Terminals of America, which had been managing operations at both Pier 66 and Smith Cove Cruise Terminal at Pier 91, and the cost of the settlement will be split between NCLH and the port.
Seattle’s ports serve seven major cruise lines: Carnival Cruise Lines, Celebrity Cruises, Holland America Line, Norwegian Cruise Line, Princess Cruises, Oceania Cruises and Royal Caribbean International.
“Alaska is a favorite cruise destination for guests on all three of our brands, and Seattle, with its incredible culinary offerings, luxurious accommodations and outstanding attractions, makes for an ideal homeport,” said Frank Del Rio, president and CEO of NCLH. “With primary use of the world-class facilities at Pier 66, we can further customize our guests’ pre- and post-cruise experience and better align it with the superior service levels offered by our three award-winning brands.”
Seattle’s cruise business, currently leading all cruise homeports on the U.S. West Coast in passenger volume, is responsible for more than 3,600 jobs, $441 million in annual business revenue and $17.2 million annually in state and local tax revenues.
Each homeport vessel call is calculated to generate $2.5 million for the local economy. The 15-year commitment and extended lease is estimated to produce more than $2 billion in total business revenue for the region, nearly 900 jobs and more than $65 million in state and local taxes.
Ted Fick, CEO of the Port of Seattle, called the deal “historic,” acknowledging that a 15-year lease for a cruise terminal is unprecedented on the West Coast.
“Norwegian Cruise Line is showing real vision by investing in the economic growth of this region,” he said.