PortsUS PortsPort of Galveston Cruise Guide: Everything You Need to Know Pre-Cruise

Port of Galveston Cruise Guide: Everything You Need to Know Pre-Cruise

Going on a cruise out of Galveston, Texas?  Here is everything you need to know before you pack the bags and leave the house.

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The fast-growing cruise port is in the perfect location for residents of Houston and the surrounding area for getaways along the Gulf of Mexico and beyond.

Allure of the Seas cruise ship in port at Galveston Texas showing city in background
Galveston cruise port. (Photo courtesy of Royal Caribbean International)

If you’re going to be one of the many cruise passengers who will sail out of Galveston this year, this guide is for you. The Port of Galveston is a bustling hub of activity for cruise passengers, offering easy access to a variety of popular destinations across the Caribbean and beyond.

If you’re planning a cruise from Galveston, it’s important to know all about the port’s terminals and parking options, as well as the nearest airports and transportation options.

Additionally, there are plenty of exciting activities, restaurants, and hotels near the port that you won’t want to miss.

In this guide, we’ll take a closer look at all of these important factors to help ensure that you have a smooth and enjoyable experience before and after your cruise.

 

A Little History About the Port

Established in 1825, the Port of Galveston has been a thriving maritime commercial center for nearly 200 years. What started as a humble Mexican trading post has since become a Texan-sized center of commerce.

Boasting 840-acres of infrastructure and just a 45-minute sail from the open seas, the Port of Galveston has grown to the fourth largest American cruise port, with over one million passengers passing through annually.

The Port of Galveston sits just off the coast of Texas at the entrance to Galveston Bay and the Houston Ship Channel on Galveston Island. The Port of Galveston has a rich history dating back to the early 1800s when it served as a major trading hub for cotton and other goods.

In the 1960s, the port began to see the potential for growth in the cruise industry and started to invest in infrastructure to accommodate cruise ships.

A Royal Caribbean cruise terminal at Port of Galveston

 

Galveston Cruise Terminals

Today, the Port of Galveston is one of the busiest cruise ports in the United States, with over 1.5 million passengers sailing from here each year. The port has continued to invest in infrastructure to keep up with the growing demand for cruises, including the addition of new terminals and parking facilities.

As a result, Galveston has become a popular departure point for many major cruise lines, offering convenient access to destinations across the Caribbean and beyond.

While it has grown exponentially in recent years, compared to other major cruise ports, the Port of Galveston is much smaller and easier to navigate.

It services five cruise lines out of three terminals, the newest of which was completed in 2022. More specific information about each terminal can be found below:

 

Terminal 25

2502 Harborside Drive

Galveston, Texas 77550

Terminal 25 was formerly Terminal 1. It hosts both Carnival and Princess Cruise Lines and is the easternmost terminal. There are a number of parking options directly across the street, making it convenient to get to on the day of your cruise’s arrival and departure.

 

Terminal 28

2702 Harborside Drive

Galveston, Texas 77550

Neighboring Terminal 25, Terminal 28 was formerly Terminal 2. The previous home of Royal Caribbean, it now hosts both Disney and Norwegian Cruise Lines. As you face the port, Terminal 28 will be on your left. It is a slightly farther walk from parking options than Terminal 25 is, but is still convenient to get to (especially if you are taking a taxi or shuttle).

 

Terminal 10

1152 Royal Caribbean Way

Galveston, Texas 77550

Terminal 10 is the newest port, so the roads are newly renamed. If your preferred navigation system does not recognize 1152 Royal Caribbean Way, you can try the old address: 1028 Harborside Drive.

Terminal 10 exclusively hosts Royal Caribbean Cruises. This is the largest of the terminals. Sitting about a mile east of Terminals 25 and 28, Terminal 10 has its own parking areas.

Royal Caribbean's terminal at Port of Galveston

The Port of Galveston’s three cruise terminals are some of the most advanced and well-equipped cruise facilities in the world.

These terminals offer a range of amenities and services designed to ensure a seamless embarking and disembarking experience for passengers, including spacious waiting areas, modern check-in facilities, and easy access to nearby parking options.

 

Port of Galveston Parking

parking terminal at Port of Galveston
Photo Credit: Cruise Fever

Most of the people boarding cruises at the Port of Galveston drive themselves there, as Galveston is only a short drive from many of Texas’ major cities. If you can drive yourself, this is a great option because parking at the port is easy and affordable.

The port itself offers official parking, there are independent parking lots nearby, and some local hotels offer cruise parking. Regardless of which option you choose, we recommend that you book a spot early so that you can save money with advance-payment discounts.

 

Official Port of Galveston Parking

The port offers parking at all three terminals; this is clearly marked with blue banners that say ‘Port of Galveston Cruise Parking.

There are shuttles to take you to and from the official parking lots for Terminal 25 and Terminal 28, which are Lot A (160 33rd Street) and Lot B (224 33rd Street). There is also an Express Lot at 2702 Harborside Drive that is within walking distance of Terminals 25 and 28.

Terminal 10 offers several parking options including the North Lot (1142 Royal Caribbean Way), the South Lot (1201 Royal Caribbean Way), and the Pier 14 Lot (1390 Royal Caribbean Way).

The North Lot is directly next to the terminal, and spots can be booked there for a premium price. The South and Pier 14 Lots are a bit further away but offer guests a free shuttle service to and from the terminal.

Rates run from about $70 for a five-day cruise and $100 for a seven-day cruise if you book in advance. The port’s official parking lots accept all major credit cards (including American Express) but do not accept cash.

Read more: Port of Galveston parking guide and tips

Independent Parking Lots

There are nearly a dozen independent parking lots surrounding the port facility that offer parking at cheaper rates than the official port parking and are sometimes even closer to your ship than the port’s parking lot. These lots also offer options for covered parking.

Prices start as low as $65 for a five-day cruise and $70 for a seven-day cruise. The methods of payment accepted vary by independent company.

Hotels that Offer Cruise Parking

Many hotels in the Galveston area will offer free parking for the length of your cruise in return for a one-night stay, either as part of a package or as a courtesy consideration for hotel guests. The hotels that currently offer this are:

 

Port of Galveston cruise port with Allure of the Seas docked by Royal Caribbean's terminal
Photo courtesy of Royal Caribbean International

What’s the cheapest way to park at the Port of Galveston?

If you’re not planning on spending the night at a nearby hotel, the most affordable parking option at the port is the port’s surface lot located at 33rd Street and Harborside Drive.

This parking lot is about a 10-minute walk from the cruise terminals and charges a flat rate of $10 per day for standard vehicles and $20 per day for oversized vehicles.

Another low-cost option is the Port of Galveston’s satellite parking lot, located off-site at 3212 Harborside Drive. This lot offers a complimentary shuttle service to and from the cruise terminals and charges a daily rate of $7 per vehicle.

However, it’s important to note that availability for these cheaper options can be limited, so it’s best to book in advance or arrive early to secure a spot.

Regardless of where you choose to park, drivers should drop off passengers and luggage before heading to the parking lot to reduce difficulty when boarding your ship.

Porters will be available at each terminal to assist with baggage on embarkation day.

Houston Airports (including transportation)

The closest major city to the Port of Galveston is Houston, which is about 50 miles northwest of the port, so if you must fly to Texas to board your trip, set your sights on a Houston-based airport.

Houston has two main airports, William P. Hobby Airport (HOU) and George Bush Intercontinental Airport (IAH), both of which host domestic and international flights. Houston Hobby is generally more conveniently positioned, only 45 miles (about 50 minutes) from the port.

Hobby serves as Southwest Airlines’ operating base, so almost all flight traffic out of HOU is operated by the Texan airline. Southwest provides nonstop flights to over 60 destinations, including a smattering of international airports.

The only other flights are hosted by American Airlines and Delta who have a daily flight to their hubs in Dallas and Atlanta, respectively.

Bush-Intercontinental has a superior flight network but is further outside the city and is situated 70 miles (about 75 minutes) from the Port of Galveston. IAH is United Airlines’ second largest hub and offers nonstop travel to over 185 destinations across 28 airlines.

There are many ways to get to the Port of Galveston from both Houston-area airports, including cruise shuttles, rideshare services/taxis, and public transit.

 

Cruise Shuttles

Both airports are home to cruise-specific shuttle services that provide round-trip services from Houston to the Port of Galveston. These shuttles leave on a set schedule, with many providers offering several daily departure times seven days a week.

Airport to terminal shuttles can be pre-arranged through your cruise line if you arrive the same day that your cruise departs. Be sure to check each respective shuttle provider’s schedule to ensure that the timing fits nicely with your flight arrival and ship boarding times. You don’t want to be stuck at the airport without a ride!

Costs for these shuttles range from $50-75 per person, but discounts are available through many providers for senior citizens and children.

 

Rideshare Services and Taxis

Both airports host rideshares and taxis that can take you to the Port of Galveston. These are available to book upon arrival to the airport, so you do not have to worry so much about timing.

Generally, rideshares will run a bit cheaper than traditional cabs—an Uber/Lyft will cost about $80-100 while taxis will cost about $100-150 from each airport. Rideshares also now offer the option to book in advance, so you can lower the cost of your ride by booking it once you land in Texas.

However, if you are traveling with a larger group (whose luggage fits in a standard car!), this option might work out to be more cost-effective than a shuttle.

 

Public Transit

There is limited public transit options between Houston and Galveston. Amtrak has a bus available, but tickets can only be booked in conjunction with a train ticket for around $90 per person.

Service departs from the Houston Station and the drop-off in Galveston is the Moody Railroad Museum (on 25th and Strand). This would then require booking a taxi or rideshare service to get to the port.

Your most cost-effective public transport option is the Galveston Express, which offers an affordable public shuttle service from both airports to the Port of Galveston starting from $30 per person. It is recommended to book this in advance.

 

What’s the cheapest way to get to the Port of Galveston from the airport?

The cheapest way to get to the port depends on how many people you are traveling with. If there are enough people to make splitting a rideshare service worth it (i.e., less than the cost of individual shuttle tickets), then that is your best bet.

Otherwise, the shuttles provide an affordable and easy way to get to your ship.

 

Things to Do Near the Cruise Terminal

Galveston, Texas is a vibrant coastal city that offers a variety of fun and interesting activities to enjoy before setting sail on a cruise. Visitors can explore the city’s rich history by visiting museums, historic sites, and beautiful Victorian architecture.

There are also miles of beaches to enjoy, along with water sports and other outdoor activities. For those looking for something a bit more laid-back, there are plenty of great restaurants, bars, and shops to explore. No matter what your interests may be, Galveston has something for everyone.

Featuring an indoor rainforest, an aquarium, and educational exhibits, Moody Gardens dots the skyline of Galveston with its towering pyramids. Moody Gardens is less than 20 from the cruise port and is certainly worth the drive for families with children. One of Galveston’s top attractions, Moody Gardens even has a small water park, freshwater lagoons, ziplines, and a golf course.

 Galveston Island’s Historic Pleasure Pier is a 1,000-foot-long amusement park that sits over the sea about a six-minute drive from the Port of Galveston. For $30 per person, you can get all-access all-day to this recently renovated nexus of fun, offering food, shops, carnival games, and 15 rides (including a roller coaster!).

If you’re itching for an educational twist on your pre-cruise recreation, Galveston has plenty of historical offerings. Bishop’s Palace is an ornate 19th century home that sits six minutes from the port by car. Moody Mansion is another historic building in Galveston, located three minutes from the port by car (or a 15-minute walk). Public entry to both is offered daily from 10 A.M. to 4 P.M. for $15 per person per house (children ages 5 and under can tour for free).

Galveston is also home to the 1877 Tall Ship Elissa, a 19th century ship that was designated a historical landmark in 1990. Elissa is featured as a part of the Galveston Historic Seaport, which is a three-minute drive from the cruise port. The ship can be toured from Tuesday to Sunday from 10 A.M. to 5 P.M. for $10 per person.

For outdoor enthusiasts, there are plenty of beaches and parks to explore, including Stewart Beach (named one of the “10 Best Beaches for Families”) and the Galveston Island State Park (great for outdoor activities like hiking, biking, and swimming).

Families can take a walking tour of the city’s historic downtown area, The Strand, which is home to beautiful Victorian architecture, museums, and unique shops. The Strand is also the center of Galveston’s seasonal celebrations, including Mardis Gras and the annual ‘Dickens on the Strand’ festival. With so many options to choose from, you’re sure to find a valuable way to spend time before embarking on your cruise.

 

Restaurants near the Cruise Port

Galveston’s Historic Strand District features restaurants, bars, and shops in buildings from the late 19th and early 20th centuries. Here you can find mingle with locals as you admire distinct architecture and enjoy great eats. The Strand District is within walking distance of Terminals 25 and 28, but if you are at Terminal 10, you will want to take a rideshare or taxi to reach this area.

  • Stuttgarden Tavern: One of the most popular restaurants along The Strand is Stuttgarden Tavern, a three-floor restaurant with a beer hall and rooftop bar with live music. The Tavern offers pool and dart games to play alongside pub food and draft beer.
  • Yaga’s Café: Also located along The Strand, Yaga’s Café is known for its artisan pizzas, such as coconut shrimp pizza, and its plethora of vegan options. Opt for outdoor seating where you can enjoy your food on one of Galveston’s biggest patios and enjoy live music from local groups.
  • La King’s Confectionary: For dessert, you can visit La King’s Confectionary, an old-fashioned candy shop that has been in business for nearly a century. La King’s is known for its thick shakes and malts, as well as its homemade ice cream and saltwater taffy.

Other restaurants and shops to purchase last-minute items (like sunscreen!) can be found in the hotel district, which runs along the Galveston Seawall. This area is home to chain and independent restaurants as well as grocery stores.

The Seawall is generally a seven-to-ten-minute drive from the Port of Galveston, so you will need to take a taxi or rideshare if you plan to visit this area.

 

Hotels near the Cruise Port

Galveston Island has a wide variety of places to spend the night, from historic hotels to modern chains and resorts. Most hotels in Galveston are along the Seawall, about seven minutes from the port, offering affordable stays with beautiful views of the ocean. However, there are some hotels closer to the port that can provide a unique pre-cruise experience.

  • Tremont House Hotel: The closest and highest rated hotel within walking distance of the Port of Galveston is the Tremont House Hotel. Situated in The Strand District, this hotel offers a rooftop bar, a café, and easy transportation around the island and to/from Houston area airports.
  • Harbor House Hotel: Found in Galveston Wharf overlooking Galveston Bay, the Harbor House Hotel offers guests gorgeous views only a four-minute drive from the port and two blocks from The Strand District.
  • The Grand Galvez: Located along the Seawall, the Grand Galvez is the only historic beachfront hotel on the Texas Gulf Coast, dating back to 1911. This elegant hotel boasts luxurious amenities such as a full-service spa, outdoor pool, and on-site restaurant. The Grand Galvez is about an eight-minute drive from the Port of Galveston and a five-minute drive from The Historic Strand District.
  • Holiday Inn Express & Suites: For travelers on a budget, the Holiday Inn Express & Suites Galveston Beach is a great choice, offering comfortable rooms and a complimentary breakfast. This option is seven minutes from both the port and The Strand.

To save money (but miss out on beachfront views), there are also mainland hotels between Houston and Galveston that are only a short drive from the island. These might be a good option for travelers coming from Houston, as they are affordable and dotted along the route to the island.

 

Final Thoughts

Ultimately, the Port of Galveston offers a fantastic experience for cruise passengers, with a range of convenient parking options, proximity to nearby Houston-area airports, a wealth of activities to enjoy before setting sail, and comfortable pre-cruise accommodations.

From exploring the city’s rich history to soaking up the sun on the beaches, Galveston offers something for everyone.

With continued investment in infrastructure and a commitment to customer service, the Port of Galveston has established itself as a premier destination for cruise travel in the United States. Whether you’re a first-time cruiser or a seasoned traveler, Galveston is sure to provide the stating point of an amazing cruise experience.

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J. Souza
J. Souza
Jon is the co-founder of Cruise Fever and has been on 50+ cruises since his first in 2009. As an editor, 15-year writer on the cruise industry, and avid cruise enthusiast he has sailed with at least 10 cruise lines and is always looking for a great cruise deal. Jon lives in North Carolina and can be reached at [email protected].
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2 COMMENTS

  1. Great information.
    Only quibble would be, of the 3 terminals, the Royal Caribbean terminal is the furthest east by a good distance.

    • Good call out, Keith. The Royal Caribbean terminal at Terminal 10 is about a mile from the other terminals along Harborside Drive.

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