Southwest Airlines and Houston Hobby: My wife and I flew into Houston Hobby early the day before our cruise. Just about everyone knows the pros and cons of flying S.W. My only question, did the seats get smaller or my butt get bigger?? Hobby was a very nice and easy airport to fly in and out of.
Lady Bird Limo: I researched ground transportation through trip adviser and cruise critic. I decided to go with Ladybird Limo. Working with Susan through e-mails, texts and phone calls was smooth. When compared to other services YES there are cheaper, HOWEVER being met at baggage claim, not waiting on others passengers, the comfort of the Lincoln Navigator and a straight shot to the hotel was worth the couple extra dollars. The one minor snag, not a fault of Ladybird, is the nearly daily traffic jam at the construction area between Houston and Galveston. Make sure you are adding some extra time for this.
Hilton Galveston: Again trying to get the best bang for the buck I did my research. I would have preferred to stay at the Harbor House but they required a two night minimum. So we booked with our second choice, The Hilton Galveston Island Resort. Upon arrival the doorman was great to work with. Check in was quick and easy at the front desk. However the room was not ready because of our early arrival. They stored our bags, the doorman got us a Taxi and we were off to The Strand (see below). When we returned, they had upgraded our room to the top (10th) floor in a newly remodeled room and gave us free Wi-Fi. The view of the Galveston coast line was awesome and the bed was extremely comfortable. The next morning the itemized bill was under the door. My wife and I had the breakfast buffet, which had a good selection and was very good, finished packing and headed to the free cruise port shuttle. I overwhelmingly give them a five star rating
I reserved an aft balcony cabin, Deck 10, cabin 1692. We explored the ship until 1 PM when the cabins were ready and our bags were waiting at our door. Our cabin was very spacious with plenty of closet, drawer and cabinet space. The balcony was well worth the extra money. It fit two lounge chairs plus two balcony chairs and a small table with enough room to walk around. Many breakfasts and early evenings were spent relaxing watching the wake of the ship. We never heard a sound from the Windjammer on the deck above and the reputed movement in the aft felt more like a fluid train movement than the rise and fall of a boat. Our steward, Elroy, was good. Our room was always well kept and we rarely saw him, when we had a special request he saw to it.
Galveston Island: Keeping in mind that Galveston Island is largely a tourist area. Our taxi took us from one side of the island to The Strand on the other side for 15 dollars. We walked the main street with all eclectic shops. There was nothing that we needed to purchase before the cruise but it was enjoyable. Being “Off Season”, Almost all the movies, tours, exhibits had limited hours so we missed those. With many choices for dining, we decided on Olympia the Grill at Pier 21. We see (taste) why they have won the trip advisor award three years in a row. Highly Recommended!! Boarding: We took the free hotel shuttle to the cruise port. After a quick stop to pick up drivers, who were dropping off cars, we were at terminal 2 in fewer than 20 minutes (11 am). We used a porter for our bags, just about walked up to the counter, signed a few documents, got our sea passes and were walking on the ship in less than 30 more minutes. Disembarking: While this wasn't really terrible, it was the worst part of the trip--both because the great week was over, and because it took quite a while. Since we booked late flights and had plenty of time to get to the airport, we were in nearly the last group to leave. Our group waiting area was the Metropolis Theater with complimentary coffee, tea, juice and bakery. Once our group was called we waited in line to get off the boat, we waited in line to get our bags, and we waited in line to get through customs. All of this due to backlogs in the understaffed customs area. The staff they had was efficient, just overwhelmed. It took over 2 hours to get from the waiting area to curbside. This port has a long way to go to compare to Florida ports.