Galveston Island is rapidly becoming one of the most popular cruise ports in the United States. It has grown exponentially since it was originally built, and soon plans to add on a third terminal to accommodate larger vessels and many more passengers.
One of the benefits Galveston provides its visitors is a rich culture steeped in history, especially since Galveston was a popular port for immigrants fleeing to the U.S. in the 1800s. In fact, Galveston was dubbed as the “Ellis Island” of the south.
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However, the downside to using the Galveston cruise port is that getting there can be difficult. The only airport in Galveston doesn’t host commercial flights, so if you’re flying in your only options are either the Hobby airport or George Bush Intercontinental, both of which are in Houston and at least an hour away.
As a result, transportation between Houston and Galveston can get pricey and difficult to obtain.
However, all is not lost. Aside from renting a car or driving yourself you can take a cab or book an Uber or Lyft. There are also plenty of shuttle services that have propped up over the years to provide travelers with much more affordable options.
Unfortunately, although there is an Amtrak train station in Galveston, we were unable to check on any rates (every date range we tried came back with an error). Additionally, there is no Greyhound going into Galveston from Houston.
Below we’ve detailed what options are available, so you can choose what is going to be best for you and your group.
Renting a Car
If you’re looking to rent a car that you pick can up in Houston and drop-off in Galveston, your only choice is going to be Enterprise Rent-a-Car. They are currently the only rental car agency with an office on the island.
Your best way to book a one-way trip with them is if you’re flying into either of the airports in Houston, but you can also try some of the other Enterprise offices in Houston. One-way trips won’t always be available via the website, so you might want to give them a call in order to rent your car.
Here is a list of a few Enterprise locations in Houston, TX along with their phone numbers.
- Houston George Bush Intercontinental Airport: 281-230-8200
- Houston Hobby Airport: 833-511-77061
- Downtown Houston JW Marriott Hotel: 713-659-8992
- Houston Midtown: 713-651-7866
- Houston Heights: 713-868-1063
Other Rental Options
If renting a car is the way you want to go, your best option will probably be round trip rentals. Although they will likely cost you more money (especially with parking prices), your rental car will be ready for you once you get off the ship, and you can drive it directly back to Houston and drop it off.
The good thing is that parking on Galveston Island is relatively inexpensive, and most parking lots and garages offer excellent security and insurance to make sure your car is safe.
Below are a few car rental companies in Houston you can get your round trip car from, along with their average cost to rent an economy car for a week (including taxes and fees). Keep in mind that if you add any additional drivers, car seats, or any other features the cost you pay may end up higher.
- Dollar Car Rental: $238
- Thrifty Car Rental: $238
- Hertz Car Rental: $204
- Enterprise Rent-A-Car: $208
- Avis Car Rental: $212
- Budget Car Rental: $212
- Ace Rent A Car: $262
- Payless Car Rental: $277
- EZ Rent A Car: $301
- National: $346
Driving Your Own Car
If, perhaps, you live in Houston, the easiest thing for you might be to drive your own car to Galveston. As mentioned above parking is easy enough to find and won’t cost you much, and you won’t have to worry about extra travel costs beyond gas for your car.
Depending on where in Houston you’re coming from, the trip should only take you about an hour, depending on traffic. The best way to get to the cruise port from Houston is:
- Find your way to Interstate 45 S to Galveston, TX
- Get off at Exit 1C
- Follow the exit ramp to Harborside drive (also called Highway 275)
- 7 miles later you’ll find Kempner/22nd street, then turn left to go to the cruise terminals.
If you prefer to let someone else drive, whether you’re flying in or you live in Houston, booking a rideshare trip is highly recommended. The two best options are Uber or Lyft.
The beauty of either service is you can book your trip directly from your phone as soon as you arrive in Houston. You can even book in advance if you prefer, all through the app. The great thing about Houston is that it is a very busy city, so there will be plenty of drivers available to give you a ride to and from the Galveston cruise ports.
Worth Reading: Extensive Guide to Port of Galveston Cruise Parking
The cost varies depending on where your driver will be picking you up. If you’re flying into Hobby, estimated fares may run about $40-$60 (one way), but from Bush Intercontinental, you may be looking at roughly $75-$100.
These prices are not per person, though, so if you have a few people traveling with you it makes sense. Everyone could probably pitch in about $25 each to cover the ridesharing cost so not one person is footing the bill.
Traditional taxi cabs are also available all over Houston and Galveston. They are probably going to cost a bit more than taking Uber or Lyft (estimated rates are between $150 and $300, depending on where in Houston you are). But just like Uber and Lyft, a cab can accommodate up to about four people, so the price you pay is for the whole car.
The cruise line you’ve chosen may offer shuttle service from one of the Houston airports to the Port of Galveston. Many people taking a cruise will usually choose that option as you can sometimes book the shuttle with your cruise package, or when you check-in online.
One huge benefit of using a cruise line transfer is you’ll never be in danger of missing your cruise, since the shuttle service is with the same company.
The downside, though, is that these shuttles can be crazy expensive, especially if you have multiple people riding with you.
Here are the prices some cruise lines charge for their shuttle transfer bus:
Carnival Cruise Line:
- One-way from Bush Intercontinental: $46.99 per person
- One-way from Houston Hobby: $36.99 per person
Disney Cruise Line:
- One-way from Bush Intercontinental: $45 per person
- Round-trip from Bush Intercontinental: $90 per person
Independent Shuttle Companies
As you can see, the need for affordable transportation between Houston and Galveston is high, which is largely why a lot of people opt to drive or rent a car.
However, to meet this need, plenty of shuttle service businesses have begun popping up over the years to provide more affordable ways of getting from Houston to the Port of Galveston.
Galveston Express is one of many companies in Galveston that provides affordable one-way or round-trip shuttle service between Houston and Galveston Island.
They have a flat rate they charge depending on which airport you’re using, but they do offer a $5 discount for Seniors (55+) and Children (10 & under). Those discounts are only available on round-trip tickets.
They do offer pickup from hotels near the airport, but they charge an additional $30 for that, so it’s best if you’re picked up at either Houston Hobby or Bush Intercontinental.
If you’re traveling with a larger group, Galveston Express gives you the option to book a private shuttle.
Galveston Express Prices:
- Round-trip from Hobby: $60-$65
- Round-trip from Bush: $70-$75
- Website: https://galvestonexpress.com/galveston-taxi-rates-schedule/
- Phone number: 409-762-4397
Island Breeze Shuttle
Instead of charging per person, Island Breeze Shuttle makes things simple by offering different rates for 2, 3, or 4 passengers. The more passengers you have in your group, the less the per person comes out to be. They do ask that if you have 5 or more people traveling to give them a call for a group rate.
All their shuttles are private shuttles, providing customers a comfortable and hassle-free ride from either Houston Hobby or Bush Intercontinental.
Island Breeze Prices:
- Bush Intercontinental: $105 one-way, $190 round-trip (two people)
- Houston Hobby: $85 one-way, $150 round-trip (two people)
- Website: https://www.islandbreezeshuttle.com
- Phone number: 407-770-0100
SuperShuttle provides shuttle service for most areas around the US, especially around cruise ports. Depending on where you’re traveling to and from, along with the time of year and the time of day, you get a wide variety of vehicle and shuttle options.
For instance, when we put in some random dates and times, the only option coming from Hobby was a non-stop shuttle (for up to 7 passengers). Meanwhile, the same dates and times for Bush Intercontinental was a Premium SUV for up to only 5 passengers.
- Varies depending on location, time of year, and time of day
- Website: https://www.supershuttle.com
- Phone number: 800-258-3826
The Galveston Flyer
The Galveston Flyer offers affordable and convenient shuttle services to and from Houston and Galveston, with straightforward, easy to understand pricing. No surprises or hidden fees, just punctual, friendly shuttle service.
The creator and owner, Phillip, started this company originally to pay for grad school while studying at Texas A&M. He fell in love with it as he was able to learn so much from his passengers, and it eventually became a very fulfilling career for him.
He named his service after the 1911-1936 Galveston-Houston Electric Rail Car Company’s Galveston Flyer. When you ride Phillip’s Galveston Flyer, not only will you be saving money, but you’ll get to learn a bit about Galveston’s history as well.
Galveston Flyer Prices:
- Houston Hobby: $30 one-way, $60 round-trip (per person)
- Bush Intercontinental: $35 one-way, $70 round-trip (per person)
- Website: https://www.galvestonflyer.com/
- Phone number: 409-939-9521
Though the name says “limo”, Galveston Limo is not a luxury service, not like you would think. They do, however, provide comfortable shuttle bus rides from Houston to Galveston for extremely competitive rates. If you’re traveling with a large group, though, give them a call to book your group rate.
Their bus will pick you up from either Houston airport and take you to wherever you want in the surrounding area, including the Port of Galveston.
Galveston Limo Prices:
- Hobby: $25 one-way, $40 round-trip (per person)
- Bush Intercontinental: $30 one-way, $50 round-trip (per person)
- Website: https://www.galvestonlimo.com/airport-shuttle.asp
- Phone number: 409-744-5466
There are also a few companies that offer luxury travel options in the form of a large, private van, bus, or limousine. For those who’d rather travel in style, you can opt for one of these companies, though the prices may be a bit steep.
Luxury private vehicles, however, are excellent choices for larger groups, as you don’t have to worry about per-person rates that add up exponentially the more people are in your group.
Below are a few companies in the Houston and Galveston area that provide luxury car services for travelers:
Conclusion on Houston to Galveston
Finding transportation from Houston to Galveston cruise port doesn’t have to be as stressful as you originally thought it is. There are plenty of options to fit your needs and your budget.
If you want to drive yourself and be in control of where you go, you can take your own car. Or, if you’re flying into Houston, consider renting a car. For either option there are plenty of parking available that won’t cost you much more, and the car will be safe and secure while you’re on your cruise.
Ridesharing and taxi cabs are also available, though taxis will run you much higher costs than you may want to spend.
Some of the best and cheapest options, however, are shuttle companies, all of which will also assist you with your luggage for no additional cost.
Whatever mode of travel you choose, we hope you enjoy your stay in Galveston, and that you have a safe and fun cruise.