Rough seas strand cruise ships, await tugboats to help dock 

Jun 3, 2024, 11:19 AM | Updated: 4:38 pm

Photo: Cruise ship in Seattle....

Cruise ship in Seattle. (Photo courtesy of KIRO 7)

(Photo courtesy of KIRO 7)

The seas are so rough right now that two cruise ships have had to anchor out in Elliot Bay and wait for tugboats to help them dock at Pier 91.

Travel expert Steve Danishek said cruise ships have engines that typically allow them to move the front and the back of the ships sideways, so they can maneuver safely toward a pier and dock on their own. But the rough water has overwhelmed the engines.

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“The sides of the ship act like sails that catch the wind and the wind can push them around,” Danishek told KIRO Newsradio in reference to the high winds hitting the vessels. “If they try to dock and the wind pushes them, then they can either severely damage the ship or the dock, and putting Pier 91 out of business would be a catastrophe.”

Pier 91 is one of two Seattle piers that host cruise ships.

But bringing tugboats in to help guide the cruise ships to the pier will take hours. Danishek said the ships, the Quantum of the Seas and the MS Roald Amundsen, carry thousands of passengers who, unless they had planned to stay in the Seattle area an extra day, have likely missed their flights home.

It’s a delay that one would not necessarily anticipate.

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“Usually the storms are gone and we don’t have any problems at all,” Danishek said regarding weather during the Seattle cruise season. “I can’t remember having a ship anchored in Elliot Bay during the summer due to weather.”

Contributing: Frank Sumrall, MyNorthwest

Heather Bosch is an award-winning anchor and reporter on KIRO Newsradio. You can read more of her stories here. Follow Heather on X, formerly known as Twitter, or email her here.

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Rough seas strand cruise ships, await tugboats to help dock