If you're planning a trip to Seattle, be sure to include a harbor tour with Argosy Cruises on your agenda. This brief cruise offers magnificent views of Seattle's waterfront from Elliott Bay and provides a unique perspective of the city that you simply can't get anywhere else.
Tour Seattle's Harbor by Boat
Argosy's harbor tour is the top-rated Seattle boat tour on TripAdvisor. As there are a number of boat tour options in and around the Seattle area, this is a big accomplishment that reflects well on this particular attraction.
The only drawback to the tour is its length, which is just one hour. The 60 minutes you are on board will go quickly, and chances are that you'll wish it lasted a bit longer when you realize that it's already time to go to shore. Fortunately, since the cruise's point of departure and arrival is Pier 55, there are plenty of nearby attractions to enjoy once you return from your time at sea.
See the Sights
All aspects of the cruise are enjoyable, from the interesting narration about Seattle's history provided throughout the sailing to the bustling activity of the working waterfront to the impressive scenery surrounding the bay and its shoreline. You'll be able to catch impressive views of classic Seattle landmarks and the city's beautiful natural surroundings. Examples include:
- Port of Seattle (including giant cranes and container ships)
- CenturyLink Field (home of the Seattle Seahawks and Seattle Sounders)
- Safeco Field (home of the Seattle Mariners)
- Space Needle
- Downtown skyline
- Mountains (Olympic range, Cascade range, Mount Rainier)
- Puget Sound
Depending on the season you visit and what local activities are going on, you may have an opportunity to catch cruise ships in port or view them during arrival or departure, as well as barges and ocean-going vessels en route or in port. There are also plenty of opportunities to view wildlife, including sea lions and harbor seals.
Sightseeing tip: Take your binoculars so you can really hone in on any sights that particularly catch your eye.
Indoor and Outdoor Seating
The cruise takes place on a large touring vessel with both outdoor and indoor seating. The outdoor seating is on the top two decks, and it is uncovered. You'll get the best panoramic views from the top deck, but you'll also be exposed to the elements. Consider weather conditions when deciding if you want to sit inside or outside.
If you do plan to sit outside, be sure to apply sunscreen, as you can still get sunburned in the typically overcast Seattle weather conditions. You should also dress pretty warmly as it can be quite chilly outdoors over the water. Even if it's warm on land, it's a good idea to take a jacket or dress in layers. It can also get pretty windy on the top deck, so take a scarf or tie your hair back if you have long hair. If you wear a hat, it's best to opt for one with a chin strap. If you'd prefer not to have to worry about the elements, plan to sit indoors.
Refreshments are available for purchase throughout the cruise. You can purchase a variety of snacks as well as a full selection of drinks. Beverage options include non-alcoholic drinks like bottled water and soda, and there is also a full-service bar offering local beer and wine as well as mixed drinks.
Harbor cruises are scheduled every day though the number of daily cruises varies based on time of year. During the peak months of July and August, cruises start every day at 9:25 a.m. with regular departures through the day and the last cruise departing at 8:05 p.m. From September through mid-May, the earliest departures are 12:05 p.m. Morning departures are available during the other times of year. Check the website for exact arrival and departure times during the timeframe you would like to cruise.
Argosy Cruise Pricing
Individual cruise costs vary by age. If you have a AAA membership, you can save 20% on your ticket purchase, but only if you book online. Be sure to have your AAA membership number handy when making your reservation as you'll need it in order to get the discount.
For 2018, the rates are:
Adult (ages 13-64): $30.50 (walk up) or $28.50 (pre-purchase online)
Youth (ages 4 - 12): $16.50 (walk up) or $15.50 (pre-purchase online)
Senior citizen (ages 65+): $25.50 (walk up) or $24.00 (pre-purchase online)
Kids (ages 3 and under): No charge
Please note: These prices are pre-tax. When you purchase your ticket, sales tax (10.1% as of the beginning of 2018) will be added. A six percent web transaction fee is also required for online orders.
Save With Seattle City Pass
If you're planning to take in several other attractions during your time in the Emerald City, your best bet is to get a Seattle City Pass. With a City Pass, you can take in five local attractions for the total price of $79 per adult and $59 per child.
In addition to the harbor tour, you can visit the Space Needle and the Seattle Aquarium, plus your choice of either the Museum of Pop Culture (MoPOP) or the Woodland Park Zoo, and your choice of either the Chihuly Garden and Glass museum or the Pacific Science Center. One Yelp reviewer described the harbor tour as "one of our favorite activities included in the City Pass."
If you get a City Pass, you must make your cruise reservation in person. Neither phone nor online reservations are allowed for customers who have this package.
You should be aware that parking can be a challenge, especially if you plan to cruise during a busy time. There is a parking-specific page on the Argosy website that cautions passengers to allow for extra time to find a place to park in one of the nearby parking garages or lots. When it comes to downtown Seattle, as Frommer's points out, "Parking is difficult and expensive, and Seattle traffic jams are awful."
Expect to pay at least $3 per hour to park downtown, with many locations charging significantly higher rates. You may want to consider taking a cab or rideshare service such as Uber or Lyft to avoid having to deal with parking. It'll be faster and, if you're staying in the downtown area, it probably won't cost much more than parking. Ask the concierge or front desk clerk at your hotel to recommend the best way to get there. Some hotels have special discounts set up with car services, so you might save a few bucks this way.
A Great Seattle Experience
The harbor tour is a quintessential Seattle tourist experience. It's a great way to see the waterfront while learning about the area's history and it won't take too much time out of your day. You'll still have plenty of time to partake of Seattle's many other attractions. Plus, if you really want to spend more time on the water, you can set aside time to take a different water-based cruise. For example, you could take a tour on an amphibious vessel with Ride the Ducks of Seattle, hop on one of the local ferries, rent a kayak, or take one of Argosy's other sightseeing cruises.