2502-2702 Harborside Dr.
Galveston, TX 77550
Located on the island of Galveston on Galveston Bay -- within walking distance of the island's historic downtown and The Strand -- the Port of Galveston has two terminals dedicated to cruise ships. The island's Seawall, where the beaches are, is on the opposite end of the island.
Several cruise lines, including Carnival, Royal Caribbean and Disney, sail from Galveston to the Eastern and Western Caribbean and Bahamas on itineraries ranging from four to seven nights. Carnival uses Terminal 1, while Royal Caribbean and Disney dock at Terminal 2.
Galveston is approximately 52 miles from Houston, Texas. Allow at least 90 minutes to get to the cruise terminal from George Bush International Airport (IAH), which is north of the city, and at least 60 minutes to arrive from William P. Hobby Airport (HOU) on the south end. If you're coming from the airport, you'll want to assess your arrival and departure options ahead of time, as the most economical options require advance planning.
Getting There by Car
Most people taking cruises out of Galveston live within driving distance. The main highway into Galveston is Interstate 45, south from Houston. Once you reach the island, the road turns into highway 87. Take the road north through the island until you get to 25th Street. Turn left, and the cruise terminal is at the end of the street.
The cruise terminal parking lots are located at 33rd Street and Harborside Drive and are marked with blue banners reading "Port of Galveston Cruise Parking." Rates depend on the length of your cruise; parking for a four-day cruise costs $45, while a seven-day cruise is $70. You can prepay for your parking online and receive a $5 discount. There is shuttle service from the official port parking lots to the terminal.
The port recommends that drivers drop off passengers and luggage first before heading to the parking lot. Porters are available for baggage assistance on embarkation day.
Galveston has several private parking garages near the terminal. In addition, several Galveston hotels offer Park and Fly packages that allow you to leave your car for the duration of your cruise.
Getting There by Public Transit
Public transit options between Houston and Galveston are limited. While Amtrak has a bus, it can only be booked in conjunction with a train ticket; service departs from the Houston station. The drop-off point in Galveston is the Moody Railroad Museum at 25th and Strand, just a block from the cruise port.
Getting There From the Airport
Cruise lines offer transfers from Houston airports on the day of your cruise only. Carnival charges $45 one way from IAH ($90 roundtrip) and $35 one way from HOU ($70 roundtrip); other cruise line rates are similar.
Galveston Express offers shuttle service Thursday through Monday from both airports three times a day ($20 each way to and from Hobby, $25 each way from IAH). In operation since April 2015, the shuttle is a great deal, and the van even has Wi-Fi. Reservations are strongly recommended. (409-762-4397)
Other shuttle services also run on a regular basis, although times are hard to predict, as the vans prefer to travel full. Super Shuttle prices are $170 per person one way from IAH and $140 from HOU.
For a group, it may be more economical (and necessary if you are coming in the day before) to arrange your own car service. There are many in the Houston area that will transfer you between the port and the airports. Read the Gulf Coast Departures forum for recommendations, and book ahead for the best rates. Expect to pay anywhere from $50 to $80 per person, each way.
A car-sharing service like Uber can be booked upon arrival at the airport. From IAH to Galveston, the cost is around $110, and from Hobby, it's about $70. Taxi rates are higher -- about $160 from IAH and $95 from Hobby.
Cars can also be rented at both Houston airports and returned in Galveston through Enterprise or in Texas City (located on the mainland across from Galveston) with other providers.
The taxi station at the Port of Galveston is directly in front of the entrance. Many hotels in Galveston offer shuttle service to the port; check when you book. Rideshare services like Uber and Lyft are also available around Galveston.
What Time to Arrive
Check-in begins at the terminal at 10:30 a.m., but boarding doesn't get underway until noon, so you'll be waiting a while. You should check in at least 90 minutes before your scheduled departure.
Your first step is to drop off your bags with the porters at the north end of the terminal. If you aren't parking, then walk over to check-in on the ground floor, where you'll be asked to show your passport and boarding pass. You will go through security on the lower level.
Once through the metal detector, you'll be directed upstairs to the main check-in desks. (There is a separate check-in desk for elite cruisers.) After you check in, you might be asked to wait in the main boarding area until your zone number is called.
When you leave the ship, you'll be directed down to the baggage pickup area. Porters are available to assist. Once you get your bags, you'll go through passport control and customs.
The Texas Alcoholic Beverage Commission charges an extra "personal importation tax" on liquor and tobacco (which defeats the purpose of duty-free). Once you go through customs, there's a window where you pay. Rates are $3.50 for a fifth of liquor, $3.25 for a standard bottle of wine and $15 for a carton of cigarettes.
Wheelchairs become available for embarkation only after the ship completes debarkation. When you arrive, let the security officers know, and they will radio up to the check-in desk to put you on the list for a chair.
Where to Grab a Bite or Last Minute Essentials
The Strand, several blocks of shops and restaurants in historic buildings, is two blocks from the Galveston Cruise Port. The closest convenience store is Bob's Grocery, on 21st and Post Office streets, about 1 mile away.
Porters are available at the entrance to each terminal to take your luggage.
Where to Sit
If you've been dropped off and you're waiting for someone to meet you at security, you can either sit outside on shaded benches or inside on a limited number of chairs. After security and check-in, there's a large waiting room, as well as smaller lounge areas for VIP/elite passengers. The waiting area is spacious, and it has an ATM and vending machines.
There are plenty of bathrooms within the Galveston cruise terminals.
The Port of Galveston has free Wi-Fi.
There is no luggage storage in the Port of Galveston.