A top global cruise market

The Pacific Northwest region -- Washington State, British Columbia, and Alaska -- is an essential ecosystem supporting one of the top cruise markets in the world. Alaska attracts 6% of the global cruise market, with a projected 1.65 million passengers expected in 2023. Cruises to Alaska start in Seattle or Vancouver, BC. Roundtrip voyages sail through Southeast Alaska’s Inside Passage or across the Gulf of Alaska, and begin or end in Vancouver or Anchorage, primarily via the southcentral Alaska port cities of Seward and Whittier. This region is a part of the comprehensive Alaska network which delivers large economic contributions to Seattle, Vancouver, Prince Rupert, Victoria, and ports in all regions of Alaska.

Alaska – A Bucket List Destination

The state of Alaska is a “must-see” destination. The Pacific Northwest region features mountains, glaciers, abundant wildlife, and cultural immersion, attracting visitors year over year.

CLIA member cruise lines bring cruise traffic to ports across Alaska. According to CLIA’s 2019 Economic Impact Study (the last full season before the pandemic), the economic contribution of industry is significant, with direct spending of $1.28 billion, 23,000 jobs and $1.23 billion in income. The cruise industry also generates income to state and local municipalities through taxes and fees, wages, direct and indirect spend impacting total state GDP, and supports the tourism industry throughout the state with repeat visitors.

Gateways to Alaska


Seattle is home to two cruise ship terminals, and in a typical year, serves approximately 40% of Alaska cruise itineraries. On average, the local economy in Seattle benefits from over $4 million in revenue per ship, per sailing. Cruising from Seattle supports nearly $900 million a year in local economic activity and approximately 5,500 local jobs. Seattle is a popular homeport market for Alaska with its easy air access, beautiful waterfront, robust local wine industry and iconic Space Needle and Pike Place Market.

British Columbia

Vancouver, BC is a starting and ending point for approximately 60% of cruises to Alaska. Canada Place is an iconic feature on the Vancouver skyline with three berths serving as the home port for ships bound on cruises to Alaska.

Victoria is Canada’s busiest port-of-call welcoming ships on round-trip voyages originating from Seattle and California ports. Cruise guests visiting Victoria enjoy many historical sites including British Columbia’s Capital Buildings and Butchart Gardens.

The cruise industry is an important leg of British Columbia’s economy. In 2019, cruising generated $1.33B CAD, 17,379 jobs, $878.6M CAD in wages with a total economic impact of $2.72B CAD.

Model for Destination Stewardship Being good partners in the communities we sail to is essential and we work with all levels of government to ensure the ports we call remain desirable locations to live and visit. The industry continuously works to address the concerns of our partners in the region and forge strong relationships to manage tourism responsibly.

Tourism Best Management Practices

Alaska’s capital city of Juneau is a model for working together with the cruise industry for the good of the community. The first of its kind, the Tourism Best Management Practices program was conceived in Juneau over 25 years ago and is an industry led effort to address impacts in communities through voluntary guidelines. Juneau’s program has grown from 15 guidelines to over 100 and is being replicated in ports across Alaska and around the world. The program can be tailored to best serve a particular community and can grow over time as necessary.

Collaboration with Local Communities

In a groundbreaking effort to help manage visitor industry impacts in the Capital City of Juneau, CLIA facilitated the execution of a Memorandum of Agreement (MOA) signed by cruise lines with the City & Borough of Juneau in 2022 to strengthen the visitor experience and protect quality of life in the community. The MOA is an effort to address community goals of managing tourism.

Environmental Responsibility

Protecting Marine Life

The cruise industry is participating in a program which uses noise limiting technology to lessen the underwater noise of cruise ships. This helps protect whales in the region. In a first of its kind, CLIA is one of five signatories to a Conservation Agreement with the Government of Canada providing plans for the long-term conservation, survival, and recovery of the endangered Southern Resident Killer Whales.

Pioneering Shore Power

The region was the first in the world to offer shore power allowing ships to “plug in” to local surplus hydroelectric power and turn off the diesel engines, reducing the impact of visible air emissions and the cruise line’s carbon footprint. Princess Cruises and the City & Borough of Juneau pioneered this effort in 2001, followed by Seattle in 2005 and Vancouver in 2009, with discussion and planning for additional ports in British Columbia.

In Juneau, every dollar spent on the purchase of shoreside electricity is credited back to a cost of power adjustment account. Credits in the account are then used to offset any diesel expenses in the next quarter. Any additional funds go back to residents and businesses in Juneau in the form of a rebate on electric bills.

Why is this important? We know what brings visitors to the region – the wildlife, marine life, glaciers, mountains, and cultural experiences. Protecting those attractions and attributes is an essential part of what we do.

Leading the Way

CLIA joined member lines, PNW ports and others as First Movers in the Pacific Northwest to Alaska Green Corridor aimed at evaluating options for decarbonization along the cruise route.

Encompassing the region, First Movers are currently in Phase 1 – “Landscape Assessment” of the phased approach to the Feasibility Assessment which includes evaluating the technological, economic, and regulatory/policy conditions needed to support a green corridor for cruise travel to Alaska, determining whether those conditions exist along the corridor, and identifying gaps, risks, and opportunities.