When planning a cruise, especially from an unfamiliar location, it helps to know everything pertaining to your trip before shipping off. We’re covering everything you need to know about your Galveston cruise terminal.
The Port of Galveston is no exception. As one of the most popular cruise ports in the country, and the only one in Texas, knowing what to expect before you arrive will save you and your group a lot of stress.
Therefore, we’ve provided an extensive list of things you need to know about the Port of Galveston Cruise Terminal before you ship out.
1. Terminal Locations
Both cruise terminals are located on 2502 Harborside Drive, in Galveston TX. If you are using a GPS program, you’ll want to input 22nd Street and Harborside Drive to get the most accurate information. However, if you plan to park at the port, use 33rd Street and Harborside Drive in your GPS instead.
This information can be found on the Port of Galveston’s official website, but for your convenience, we’ve included it here as well.
From the East
If you’re coming from the east, the best way to get to the terminals is:
- Get on Highway 87 West towards Galveston Island
- Then get on the Port Bolivar Ferry (be sure to allow additional time in case of delays)
- After you exit the ferry get back on Highway 87
- Take a right on Harborside Drive
- 20 blocks later turn right on Kempner/22nd Street
From the North and West
- Interstate 45 S towards Galveston Island
- Get off on Exit 1C
- Follow the ramp to Harborside Drive (Highway 275)
- Continue 4.7 miles to Kempner/22nd Street, then turn left to the cruise terminals
Alternate North Route
There’s another way you can take if you’re just coming from the North:
- Interstate 10 E from Houston
- Connect to Highway 146 S in Baytown
- Take Interstate 45 S to Galveston
3. Arriving in Galveston
Galveston is a busy island, so whatever your mode of arrival is, you’ll want to allow time for traffic delays. Although there is an airport on the island, it does not service any commercial airlines.
If flying is your mode of travel to Texas, the closest airport is going to be the William P Hobby Airport (HOU). There’s also George Bush Intercontinental Airport (IAH), which is the most popular choice among travelers.
After flying in, you can either rent a car and drive yourself to Galveston or catch a cab or shuttle. The ride from either airport is going to be roughly an hour, so whether you rent or take a cab you’ll want to weigh the costs to see which option is the cheapest or easiest for you.
You can also connect your flight to Amtrak, and the train will take you directly to the cruise terminal. The downside to this option, however, is that it’ll take about three and a half hours.
4. Port of Galveston Parking
Parking in Galveston is actually not that bad, as far as pricing goes. In fact, in comparison to parking fees at or near other cruise ports, Galveston has the best prices to offer cruise travelers. This is one reason people will choose Galveston for their cruise.
If you decide to park at the cruise port, you’ll find very reasonable prices. If you book your parking spot ahead of time and pre-pay, you’ll even get a discount. For instance, if you’ll be parking for 4 days, they charge $55. But if you pre-pay online, you’ll only pay $50.
They also have a parking garage, which brings up the price a bit more. For 4 days, the garage is $65. The garage is only available for 4-, 5-, 7-, and 14-day cruises, and it’s filled on a first come, first serve basis.
The Port of Galveston parking lot also accepts all forms of payments, including Travelers’ checks, and they have ADA Handicap Accessible parking available. There’s also a shuttle that’ll take you to and from your terminal.
5. Other Parking Options
If you wish to park elsewhere in Galveston, rather than at the cruise port, here are a few options in the area that offer similar or better prices.
- Cruise Park Galveston: $59 for 7-day cruises only
- DCP Cruise Parking: $50-$60 for 7-day cruises
- Falstaff Cruise Parking: $65 for 7-day cruises
- 81st Dolphin Parking: $55 for 4 nights, $60 for 5 nights, and $70 for 6-7 nights
- Port Parking: $75 for 7 days, $90 if you choose their indoor garage
- EZ Cruise Parking: $80 for 7 days, $65 if you opt-out of shuttle service
Another option for parking is to plan to arrive the day before cruise day and book a hotel. Many hotels in the area offer Park & Cruise packages that provide passengers free parking just for booking a room. Some will even shuttle you to and from the cruise port.
Here are a few of the hotels near the cruise port that provide such services:
- Inn at the Waterpark: Cruise package costs just $10 above their standard rates
- DoubleTree by Hilton Hotel Galveston Beach: $70 more than standard rate
- Hotel Galvez & Spa: Parking package is $18 above standard rates
- Gaido’s Seaside Inn: Must be booked directly with the hotel
- Hilton Galveston Island Resort: $40 above regular rates
- Four Points by Sheraton Galveston: Park & Cruise package is cheaper here than their standard rates
6. Tips for Luggage and Passenger Drop-off
On cruise day, the port recommends driving directly to the terminal to drop-off passengers and luggage. Porters will be there to help direct your group and take your luggage aboard the ship while you go park the car. Then you can just take the shuttle back.
If you’d prefer, you can also park first, and then you and your group can take the shuttle with your luggage to the terminal.
Be sure to keep in mind that not every cruise company allows early check-in, so pay attention to the details of your trip. If you’re traveling via Carnival, they use a staggered check-in method and will give you a specific 30-minute window within to check-in and board your ship. If you arrive too early, they’ll turn you away.
7. Features and Attractions Available Nearby
The cruise port of Galveston and nearby piers have a few features and facilities that may interest passengers. For reference, the cruise terminals are located between piers 25 and 27.
Pier 19 – Mosquito Fleet Berth
Located at the north end of the Strand Historic District, Pier 19 is named for the colorful shrimping boats that use this wharf. Visitors can also find deep-sea party boats, plenty of restaurants, and wholesale seafood businesses.
Piers 19-22 – Window on the Waterfront
Built specifically to cater to tourists and cruise passengers visiting Galveston, the Window on the Waterfront features various tourist attractions for anyone who doesn’t want to stray too far from the cruise ports.
Along with various restaurants and shops, the piers along the Window on the Waterfront house many specific attractions that may interest visitors.
Head over to Pier 21 where The Elissa, a 141-foot long sailing ship built in 1877, is docked and ready for visitors. Tour her decks for as long as you like and imagine what it must’ve been like as a sailor.
Henry Fowler-Watt, the man who built the Elissa, named her after a Phoenician princess in the epic Roman poem the Aeneid. After a long life of carrying cargo came to an end in Greece, she was rescued and brought to Galveston to be restored.
What you’ll witness at Pier 21 is not a replica of a ship, but a fully-functional vessel that has survived for well over a century.
Pier 21 Theater
Also at Pier 21 are several theaters and art galleries, including the Pier 21 Theater that offers three movies about various points in history for Galveston Island: “The Great Storm”, about the hurricane that hit Galveston in 1900; “The Pirate Island of Jean Laffite”; and “Galveston – Gateway on the Gulf”, a movie about the thousands of immigrants who came to Galveston. If you have a few hours to spare, the Pier 21 Theater is a great place to visit.
Texas Seaport Museum
After you finish touring the Elissa, step into the museum next door and learn more about her history, as well as how more than 133,000 immigrants entered the US through Galveston.
You can even browse the Galveston Immigration Database for any ancestors if you wish. For more information regarding tours and fees, check out their website.
Ocean Star Drilling Rig Museum
The entrance to this museum is at the east end of the Pier 21 complex and has been ranked as one of Galveston’s top attractions. Learn all about drilling and exploration, seismology, and much more here.
We promise taking a tour here is not going to be as dull as it sounds. To find out more information right here.
8. Terminal 2 Expansion
As Galveston became more and more popular among cruise travelers, the need to accommodate larger vessels and more passengers soon became apparent to those in charge of port facilities. In fact, in 2013, Royal Caribbean announced their desire to operate their largest vessel at Galveston, the Liberty of the Seas.
In order to do so, the Port needed to expand Terminal 2 (which already encompassed 90,000 square feet) by an additional 60,000 square feet. They began soliciting designs from prospective teams in 2014.
Later that year the contract eventually went to Webber, LLC, who later partnered with BEA Architects, Inc. and Lockwood, Andrews & Newnam, Inc. Together the firms planned, engineered, and designed the expansion.
Though there were many challenges and delays, including archaeological analysis to make sure the site wasn’t the location of a sunken warship, construction was finally done in 2016 and has been up and running since. It now easily seats about 2,000 guests, when previously it could only hold 500. The Galveston cruise terminal expansion also added 16 additional check-in booths and a larger baggage holding and customs area.
9. Plans for a Third Terminal
With the increase in traffic through Galveston’s cruise port, the need to add a third terminal has been a rumor, as well as a hope among many, for a long time. Fortunately, it is no longer a rumor.
In early December 2018, Royal Caribbean and the Port of Galveston signed an agreement called a memorandum of understanding (MOU) to build a third terminal on Galveston Island. This will enable them to accommodate many more passengers and cruise ships, which will also bring the port more revenue.
Plans for the Galveston cruise terminal thus far have it at 200,000 square feet and it will occupy ten acres of land at Pier 10, which is on the southern side of the port. Right now, the new terminal is slated to open for business in the fall of 2021, which is just a few short years away. This new terminal will also include bus and taxi areas, as well as additional parking.
Currently, the Port of Galveston sees well over 1 million passengers through their terminals. With the new terminal, they are predicting an additional 1 million passengers halfway through the term of the contract.
One feature that passengers might find appealing with this new terminal is facial recognition technology, which will make security checks much easier than before.
Before you arrive in Galveston, it’ll help to be as prepared as possible. Know which terminal your ship will be docked at, and when you’ll be able to check-in and board. Then you’ll be able to plan your arrival accordingly.
It’s always best to plan to arrive as early as possible to the Galveston cruise terminal. Just in case you’re delayed by traffic or construction around the island. You don’t want to risk missing your cruise entirely.
The information in this article should give you everything you need to find the terminal, as well as make any parking or lodging arrangements.
Above all we hope you are able to enjoy your vacation and have fun.