Port of Seattle expects another record cruise season for 2019

VIDEO: Port of Seattle expects another record cruise season for 2019

Today officially marks the start of cruise season and the majestic Norwegian Joy is leaving Seattle for its inaugural voyage to Alaska from Pier 66.

The Port of Seattle expects a record 1.2 million cruise passengers to come through in 2019.

With ships also getting bigger, including the newly renovated Norwegian Joy, the economic impact on our region is expected to reach nearly $1 billion.

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KIRO 7 got a sneak peek of its $50 million renovations which included turning former state rooms into new retail and dining areas and an observation deck.

The ship has a go kart race track and the largest virtual reality gaming complex in the industry. The ship spent the last two years sailing in Asia.

“It’s a great destination,” said Norwegian Joy Martin Ivanov. “People love it. That’s why the ship is always full.

But last month, KIRO 7 reported a unusual threat to Seattle's cruise industry.

A federal judge in Florida is considering temporarily banning Carnival’s owned cruise ships from U.S. ports due to allegations of illegal dumping at sea.

If that happens, it would impact half of Seattle's cruise ship sailings.

"We'll let that take its course,” said Port of Seattle’s Peter Steinbrueck. “ I do think that we have a very strong busy partnership here and opportunity for expanding the cruises that will survive whatever happens.”

The ruling on Carnival is expected in June. The company also owns Princess and Holland America.

For now - the Port of Seattle is focused on growth, with plans to open a 4th cruise berth at a cargo terminal near Pioneer Square by 2022.

KIRO 7 talked to a couple visiting Seattle for the first time. This is also their first cruise and they said they already can’t wait to come back to this city.

“We came in yesterday and we were really impressed with the downtown so I would definitely come back,” said Lisa Branford who will be traveling on the Norwegian Joy.