UPDATE: Here’s why a cruise ship anchored off West Seattle again

3:46 PM: Two days ago, the Royal Caribbean cruise ship Ovation of the Seas moved from Pier 90 at the Port of Seattle‘s Smith Cove terminal and dropped anchor in the middle of Elliott Bay. Earlier this year, cruise ships were at anchor when all the docks were full. Right now, that’s not the case. So we’ve received a few questions. The ship’s future schedule appears to be in flux; its Australia cruise season for 2021-2022 was recently canceled because travel restrictions Down Under remain tight. As for its continued stay in Seattle, we asked Port of Seattle spokesperson Peter McGraw, who says, “It will be hanging around in the near future, after our last passenger cruise vessel NCL Encore departs on Saturday afternoon. It may be conducting operations around the Sound or even berthed at Pier 66.” (That’s the cruise-ship dock on the downtown waterfront.) It had to leave Pier 91 because the space was needed for other vessels: “When we need our facilities for other tenants, like fishing vessels back from Alaska or other needs outside the cruise season, they have to go elsewhere until there’s an opening, like at 66 later next week.”

7:10 PM: Since we photographed it at mid-afternoon, the ship has in fact headed out on “operations around the Sound” – MarineTraffic.com shows it off Whidbey Island right now, northbound.

24 Replies to "UPDATE: Here's why a cruise ship anchored off West Seattle again"

  • Chris October 22, 2021 (3:58 pm)

    Hey , thanks so much for the mystery update. I watched that boat move from Pier 91 to that odd spot in Elliot bay when I was having a lovely afternoon cocktail after work at Saltys. I was really wondering why it parked kinda pointed towards West  Seattle.

  • Kim October 22, 2021 (4:00 pm)

    How is this even allowed? “Hanging around…”, as if it’s a skiff or a kayak, and not the behemoth of underwater damage that it is. 

    • Question Authority October 22, 2021 (4:23 pm)

      Dropping anchor or tying to a tethered buoy sure beats crashing upon the rocks or piers, all the ships that pause in the bay have to park somewhere or real damage will occur.

    • bill October 22, 2021 (5:17 pm)

      After more than a century of maritime commerce in Elliot Bay it’s a little late to complain about underwater damage.

  • brianF October 22, 2021 (4:11 pm)

    We’re on the Bainbridge Island ferry and just passed it. We were wondering why it was there.  Thanks for the clarification!

  • JBJ October 22, 2021 (4:13 pm)

    This boat is also currently under CDC observation, which might partly explain why it is hanging around.


    • WSB October 22, 2021 (4:26 pm)

      Thanks, doesn’t appear that means it has to stay in port, though (another followup!); I checked that list and the ship mentioned as coming here next to wrap up the season, Norwegian Encore, is also listed as “under observation.” It’s currently on a cruise, off Vancouver Island. – TR

      • WSCurmudgeon October 23, 2021 (9:50 am)

        As of 09:30 Sat 23rd Oct, Marine Traffic shows the “Ovation” executing a series of loops in the Strait of Juan de Fuca.

        • Eddie October 24, 2021 (9:09 am)

          It’s assisting in the hunt for the 40 containers that went overboard there the other day.

          • WSB October 24, 2021 (9:18 am)

            Whatever it was doing – it was still looping in the Strait as of my last check midnight-ish – it’s back here now, anchored north of Blake Island this time.

  • Matt October 22, 2021 (6:52 pm)

    Does anyone know what happens with the crews when ships like this “hang around” and shuffle in and out of different piers?  I’d imagine it takes a few people to get her started and operated even if it’s just moving out to the middle of the bay.  Does a small contingent stay on board (how awful that would be) or do they just set up residency in some hotel until they’re called out to move it again?

    • bolo October 22, 2021 (8:51 pm)

      Not sure what’s happening here currently but remember the huge cargo ship that clogged the Suez Canal last spring? The crew was not permitted to leave the ship for several months!

      • Brian October 22, 2021 (9:09 pm)

        You might be shocked and/or amazed to learn the luxury cruise liner staff and container ship crews are, for some reason, treated differently. 

    • Marina October 23, 2021 (12:01 am)

      Can’t speak for Ovation, but anytime I’ve been on a boat that’s anchored, we’ve all stayed on board. If you’re on a leg, you’re on a leg no matter if you’re underway, tied up, or at anchor. If the crew is scheduled for two weeks, they stay on no matter what, until the next crew comes on. 

    • Mike October 23, 2021 (9:00 am)

      It is a hotel for staff members 

  • WSB October 22, 2021 (7:13 pm)

    Just updated the story – happened to check MarineTraffic.com and noticed this ship is currently headed northbound in the Sound, off Whidbey. But as the Port spokesperson said, don’t be surprised if you see it back again.

  • Al King October 22, 2021 (8:47 pm)

    Matt.  On cruises i’ve been on-pre covid most crew were allowed shore leave but as they have all their belongings on board that’s where they stay. As this ship will be repositioned don’t know if they have a full crew on board.

  • 22blades October 23, 2021 (3:25 am)

    That is one, big, ugly “ship”. I guess I don’t get the big picture. They drydock the USS Kitty Hawk for months to scrape invasive species so they can move it to Texas to scrap, but these ginourmous floating resorts wander in all kinds of waters, not to mention the giant covid petri dish they are.

    • bill October 23, 2021 (12:26 pm)

      A ship with a well maintained bottom that steams almost continuously does not accumulate much growth. The Kitty Hawk on the other hand moldered in Bremerton for like 12 years. 

  • Jim October 23, 2021 (8:44 am)

    Currently she is just sailing back and forth out to the mouth of the straits and back (3 times so far) then out and back again —– Interesting.

  • Gary October 23, 2021 (8:57 am)

    Snapped this photo a couple of days ago. I was amazed the sheer size of this ship.

  • Ken October 23, 2021 (5:10 pm)

    If it stays around long enough, use it as part of the Christmas ship flotilla.  

  • wayne October 24, 2021 (8:40 pm)

    Sometimes this type of activity is to discharge sewage, legally, offshore. With crew onboard, the buildup  can either be transferred to barges for pumping to the city system or simply make a run offshore.

  • Brian October 25, 2021 (12:29 pm)

    Looks like it’s in Bremerton now (unless that is a different cruise ship?)

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