• Seattle welcomes season's first cruise ship, but a threat looms

    By: Graham Johnson

    Updated:

    SEATTLE - Seattle's first cruise ship of the season, the Celebrity Eclipse, arrived Monday near the end of a West Coast run.

    The Alaska cruise season begins in early May, and this year Seattle marks 20 years as a home port.

    Business is so good, the Port of Seattle wants to open a fourth cruise berth in 2022 on part of Terminal 46, a cargo pier near Pioneer Square.

    Initial proposals from private companies are due later this week. 

    "I know that there's global interest in this new terminal, there's quite a buzz out there," port commissioner Peter Steinbrueck told people gathered to welcome the season's first ship.

    Amid the celebration, there's also an unusual threat to Seattle's cruise business.

    A federal judge in Florida is threatening to temporarily bar Carnival ships from calling at U.S. ports.

    Carnival owns Princess Cruises and Seattle-based Holland America Line.

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    The Miami Herald reports prosecutors allege Carnival violated probation by falsifying records in a case over illegal dumping at sea.

    Prosecutors also say a Holland America ship illegally discharged gray water last fall in Glacier Bay, Alaska.

    If the judge punishes Carnival by barring sailings from U.S. ports, half of Seattle's cruise ship sailings could be at risk.

    "We'll let that take its course," Steinbrueck said. "I think we have a strong partnership and opportunity for expanding cruise that will survive whatever happens.

    "The judge said she will decide at a hearing in June."

    Carnival officials said in a statement they look forward to "clarifying any issues" and demonstrating their commitment to environmental responsibility.

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