Cruise travelers setting sail out of Galveston in the coming weeks and months will need to plan extra time to get to and from the port due to intensive road construction on I-45.
The disruptions can be so severe that Carnival Cruise Line has issued notification letters to upcoming passengers, advising them of the need for additional travel time.
Carnival Advises for More Travel Time
The I-45 Gulf Freeway road construction is so extreme between Houston and Galveston that Carnival Cruise Line is notifying upcoming guests to plan for extra travel time to reach the port.
This applies not only to travelers who may be driving to the port, but also for guests flying into Houston and planning on transfers, ride shares, or other arrangements to travel the 70 miles to the cruise port.
In a letter sent to guests on upcoming cruises, Carnival Cruise Line advises, “The Texas Department of Transportation is recommending that drivers travel with a full tank of gas, snacks and water as the drive from Houston to Galveston could take several hours during peak travel times, and the commute over the bridge to Galveston may take upwards of 40 minutes.”
During normal travel periods without road construction, the time between George Bush Intercontinental Airport (IAH) and the Port of Galveston is typically 60-90 minutes.
Guests are also advised to take flight arrival and departure times into consideration, and make adjustments to flights if possible to permit more driving time.
If travelers have chosen airport transfers arranged through Carnival, the cruise line will be in touch with transfer operators throughout embarkation day to account for increased traffic and potential delays.
Carnival Cruise Line is urging all guests sailing out of Galveston in the coming days to opt-in to text alerts about traffic conditions, in case arrival appointment times must be adjusted at the last minute.
“While your drive to Galveston might be longer than usual, we can’t wait to welcome you aboard for a FUN and memorable cruise vacation,” the email concludes.
Carnival Cruise Line currently has three ships sailing from Galveston. Carnival Breeze is offering 4-5 night Western Caribbean itineraries, while Carnival Dream is sailing 6-night Western Caribbean and 8-night Eastern Caribbean sailings. Carnival Vista is also homeported at Galveston, offering 7-night Western Caribbean cruises.
Impact of Road Construction
The I-45 road construction project involves multiple lane closures both northbound and southbound for lane reconfiguration and expansion as well as urgently needed repairs to the bridge leading to Galveston Island.
This dramatically impacts traffic flow on the most popular route to the cruise port. Other, lesser used routes are available, but may not be known to visitors and can involve lengthy detours on roads with lower speeds, meaning travel time will still be markedly increased.
Similarly, costs for ride shares or other transportation to the port can be much higher for longer driving routes.
At the moment, I-45 is considered the 27th most congested roadway in the Lone Star State, according to the Texas A&M Transportation Institute, which ranks more than 1,800 roadways according to traffic volume, overall speed, vehicle occupancy, and other factors.
Other Cruise Lines in Galveston
In addition to Carnival Cruise Line, other cruise lines currently have ships based in Galveston. Passengers booked on upcoming sailings aboard Royal Caribbean International’s Liberty of the Seas and Grandeur of the Seas should also take heed of travel warnings and delays.
If the construction continues for months – which is very likely considering the extent of the project – guests on the new Norwegian Prima, which will arrive in Galveston in late October, should also be aware of driving times. Similarly, additional ships from Royal Caribbean International and Disney Cruise Line are scheduled to homeport from Galveston later in 2022.
Experienced cruisers well know the risks of driving to the port the day a cruise begins or planning airline arrivals on embarkation day, even when road construction isn’t a concern.
Instead, it is always advisable to plan to arrive near the port the day before a cruise, and Galveston Island features a wide range of amazing hotels, restaurants, and attractions for guests to enjoy before their cruise.