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Emerald City Pirates: A Swashbuckling Adventure Your Kids Will Adore

Stunning Seattle views, pirate games and stolen treasure

Vicky McDonald

Published on: May 16, 2023

Kids gather around a pirate guide to receive training on Emerald City Pirates' Family Treasure Cruise on Seattle's Lake Union
Young pirates-in-training gather on deck to learn from their guides aboard Emerald City Pirates’ Family Treasure Cruise. Credit: Vicky McDonald

There are plenty of ways to appreciate the water around us here in the Puget Sound region. My family’s hands-down favorite? A cruise around Lake Union with the Emerald City Pirates.

Last summer, I took my kids (then ages 4 and 6) on the Emerald City Pirates’ Family Treasure Cruise, and they still talk about it. The outing definitely exceeded our expectations.

Young kids aboard Emerald City Pirates’ Family Treasure Cruise learn to be true scallywags from their pirate guides
Learning the ways of the pirate. Credit: Vicky McDonald

This action-packed, pirate-themed cruise offers stunning views of Seattle, pirate games and a thrilling chase to recapture stolen treasure. It was a swashbuckling adventure that left a lasting impression! I highly recommend it.

What to expect

The Family Treasure Cruise departs from Lake Union Park, next to MOHAI. When we first spotted the authentic pirate ship with masts, sails and cannons, my kids oohed and ahhed and were excited for the journey from the get-go.

Families wait at Lake Union Park to board Queen Anne’s Revenge, the Emerald City Pirates’ pirate ship for the Family Treasure Cruise
Board the ship at Lake Union Park. Credit: Vicky McDonald

As we boarded the ship, the enthusiastic and friendly crew — dressed in some impressive pirate outfits — welcomed us with a hearty “Ahoy, mateys!” We quickly got into the pirate spirit by donning our pirate gear and acquiring some scurrilous pirate names. (My daughter coined herself “Maggie the Magnificent.”)

Pirate swag can be preordered with your tickets and includes hats, swords, bandanas and eye patches. You can also wear your own favorite pirate outfit.

View of the Emerald City Pirates Family Treasure Cruise ship on Lake Union, a fun adventure outing for Seattle kids and families
Your pirate ship is called Queen Anne’s Revenge. Credit: Nancy Chaney

The entertainment

The crew was highly engaging and provided an informative and amusing safety talk before we set off for the high seas, aka Lake Union! We learned some useful pirate skills, and the kids quickly felt like trainee pirates. They practiced scrubbing the decks, swordfighting and talking like pirates. Arr!

There were games and stories along the way that kept them busy while the adults enjoyed the stunning views of the Seattle skyline, Gas Works Park and the Olympic Mountains.

Families aboard the Family Treasure Cruise with Emerald City Pirates enjoy the Seattle views of landmarks such as Gas Works Park
Enjoy the views of Seattle landmarks such as Gas Works Park. Credit: Vicky McDonald

My kids’ favorite part

One of the most exciting parts of the cruise was the chance to have a friendly water battle with another boat. Apparently, a rogue called Cheatin’ Linus made off with the treasure. Once our pirate guides located Cheatin’ Linus on his small boat, the kids got to blast him with water cannons and retrieve the stolen treasure.

My kids loved the drama of it all and the opportunity to splash the pirate on the small boat. Once the kids successfully recovered the treasure, they got to pick out an item from the treasure chest to take home with them.

Kids aboard the Family Treasure Cruise blast Cheatin’ Linus with water cannons after he makes off with the treasure
Young pirate trainees blast Cheatin’ Linus with water cannons. Credit: Vicky McDonald

Drinks and snacks (including Pirate’s Booty) are available for purchase on board. My kids were so enthralled by the pirate games that they weren’t that interested in the snacks, which tells you how much fun they were having! But it was nice to have the option.

Overall, the Emerald City Pirates’ Family Treasure Cruise is a fun adventure for the whole family. The crew is enthusiastic and friendly, the ship is cool and the views of Seattle are gorgeous. Your little pirates will love dressing up, and taking part in a treasure hunt and water battle, while you get to relax and enjoy the scenery.

If you go ...

Find it: The ship is docked at Lake Union Park, which is located at the south end of Lake Union at 860 Terry Ave. N. in Seattle. Find the ship at the docks just west of MOHAI.

Where to park: Metered parking is available along Westlake Avenue North, which is to the west of the park. It can be hard to find a spot on sunny days. There is a footbridge across to the area where the ship is docked. There is also some parking at Chandler’s Cove to the east of the park, past The Center for Wooden Boats. Emerald City Pirates recommends you arrive for your cruise at least 30 minutes prior to your boarding time.

Snack time: Water, soft drinks, light snacks, beer and cider are available for purchase on the ship. Outside food and drinks are not permitted.

Accessibility: The ship, including the restroom, is accessible to wheelchairs. There are no loud booms, but there is loud music.

Cost: Tickets for Salty Dogs (ages 15–64) cost $29; Scallywags (ages 1.5–14) cost $25; Senior Salts (age 65 and older) cost $22; and Wee Pirates younger than 18 months cost $12. All ages are welcome. Book tickets online.

Pirate swag and snacks cost extra. You are also encouraged to tip your pirate guides.

Duration: The Family Treasure Cruise lasts approximately 60 minutes, though you’ll want to arrive well ahead of your departure to find parking and walk to the dock. After the cruise, plan on 10–15 minutes to disembark the ship. The total experience lasts about an hour from your departure time.

Facilities: There is a restroom (head) on the ship.

More summer fun for Seattle-area families:

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