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Galveston (Photo:BJ Ray/Shutterstock)
3.5 / 5.0
Cruise Critic Editor Rating

By Carol Sottili
Cruise Critic Contributor

Port of Galveston

The now-trendy resort town of Galveston is located on a barrier island just two miles off the coast of Texas in the Gulf of Mexico. It's not just well-known for its 32-mile-long beach shaped by wind and waves, but also for its charming Victorian architecture scattered throughout the downtown historic districts.

About Galveston


Pro

Galveston is home to one of the best-preserved collections of Victorian architecture in the country

Con

Fog plagues the port often, leading to occasional cruise delays and difficulties

Bottom Line

As the only active cruise port in Texas, Galveston is popular with folks who can drive there


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Once one of the wealthiest cities in Texas and the "Wall Street of the South," Galveston was nearly swept away by a devastating hurricane in 1900, which killed more than 6,000 people. In 2008, Hurricane Ike made a direct hit, damaging 75 percent of the city's homes and causing more than $3.2 billion in damage. But, the city's 17-foot seawall (a must for strolling), which was built after the 1900 storm, held up to Ike, preventing total devastation, and the waterfront town of Galveston has once again returned to its former glory.

With its visitor-friendly historic district and a host of attractions, ranging from a massive water park to an indoor rainforest with 1,000 species of exotic plants, Galveston offers cruisegoers enough to do to fill a couple of pre- or post-cruise days. Very few ports are as walkable as Galveston; the downtown area of the city is literally right across the street from the terminal buildings. The proximity of the port to many sightseeing-worthy venues is a definite plus. For example, several neighborhoods on the National Register of Historic Places are within walking distance, including the Strand District, where you'll find plenty of shops and restaurants amid Victorian iron-front buildings, and the East End District, where you'll spot exquisite gems like Bishop's Palace.

Where You're Docked

Galveston Cruise Port Address:
Terminal 1: 2502 Harborside Dr., Galveston, TX 77550
Terminal 2: 2702 Harborside Dr., Galveston, TX 77550

You'll dock at the Port of Galveston on Harborside Drive. If you're sailing on a Carnival ship, you'll be embarking your ship at Terminal 1. If you're on a Royal Caribbean ship, head to Terminal 2. Editor's Note: On days when two ships are in port (usually Sundays), it's best to arrive between 1:30 p.m. and 2 p.m. to avoid the crowds.

Good to Know

Although Galveston is small and its people polite, be aware of your surroundings, don't wear flashy jewelry, and leave unnecessary valuables (including excessive amounts of cash) in your cabin safe. If arriving by car and touring for the day, don't leave luggage in plain view.

Currency & Best Way to Get Money

As Galveston is part of the U.S., the currency is the U.S. dollar. International visitors will find it easy to access cash at numerous ATM machines. Exchange bureaus so common in Europe are not in the U.S., but major banks also provide exchange services. Most banks are open Monday through Friday from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Some are open on Saturday mornings.

Language

English is the primary language spoken.

Shopping

Galveston is known for its large collection of 19th-century architecture; pick up picture postcards as souvenirs. Or, see a performance of the Galveston Symphony Orchestra or Galveston Ballet at the historic Grand 1894 Opera House, and keep your program as a memento. If you're a little more irreverent, pick up a "Galveston -- Just like the Glenn Campbell song, but totally different" T-shirt at the Bishop's Palace gift shop. Another option for anyone with a sweet tooth is a bag of candy from LaKing's Confectionery, located on The Strand.