While once an industrial port, Galveston, Texas has since become one of the busiest cruise ports in the United States, offering year-round sailings to the Caribbean.
With the upcoming completion of Royal Caribbean’s brand new, $125 million cruise terminal in Galveston, cruises from Texas are set to increase in popularity. Not only will the terminal provide a smoother embarkation and disembarkation process, but it will have increased capacity, allowing Royal Caribbean’s largest cruise ships to sail from the port.
More and more cruisers are looking at Galveston for their next cruise embarkation port, but understanding the ins and outs of this port can be a bit tricky. In this guide, we’ll discuss everything you need to know about planning a cruise from Galveston, from booking flights and hotels to arriving at the port.
In this guide:
- Where is the Port of Galveston?
- Which airport should I fly into for a cruise from Galveston?
- How to get from the airport to the Port of Galveston
- What time should I schedule my return flight after the cruise?
- Parking at the Port of Galveston
- Where to stay the night before your cruise
- Which Royal Caribbean ships sail from Galveston?
Royal Caribbean’s Galveston cruise port is currently located at 2702 Harborside Dr, Galveston, TX 77550.
When the new Galveston cruise port opens in November 2022, it will be located at 1028 Harborside Dr, Galveston, TX 77550.
Passengers arriving by plane to board a cruise in Galveston will fly into one of two Houston airports: George Bush Intercontinental Airport (IAH) or William P. Hobby Airport (HOU).
George Bush Intercontinental Airport (IAH)
IAH is the busiest airport in Houston, serving all major US airlines, and you’ll often find competitive pricing when flying into IAH.
It is the second-largest hub for United Airlines, meaning there are nonstop flights from nearly every major US city and over 70 international destinations.
William P. Hobby Airport (HOU)
HOU is the smaller of Houston’s airports, but it’s more convenient as it’s located only 7 miles from downtown Houston.
Houston Hobby is primarily served by Southwest Airlines. The vast majority of flights to Houston Hobby will be on Southwest, so if you live near a Southwest hub, you’re likely to find well-priced, nonstop flights to HOU.
Houston Hobby is located closer to the Port of Galveston, so we recommend searching for flights into this airport first. If prices are significantly higher or there are fewer direct options, however, flying into IAH would be the best option.
Once you’ve booked a flight to Houston, your next task is figuring out how you’ll travel from the airport to port.
Unfortunately, the airports are located 40 miles (HOU) and 70 miles (IAH) from the Port of Galveston, so getting from the airport to port is not as convenient in Galveston compared to other ports like Miami or Fort Lauderdale.
That being said, there are several recommended ways to reach the port from the airport:
The most convenient way to reach the Port of Galveston from a Houston airport is through a rideshare service like Lyft.
Lyft is the exclusive rideshare company at the Galveston terminal, so you cannot use Uber.
This option is best for those traveling with larger groups, as the cost of the Lyft is per vehicle and not per person like many shuttle services. Most Lyfts should be able to fit four passengers in addition to the driver. This brings the travel cost per passenger down significantly when compared to booking a shuttle service.
Expect to pay between $50-60 one-way when traveling from Houston Hobby airport to the Port of Galveston and $90-100 one-way when traveling from George Bush Intercontinental airport to the port. Tipping the driver is standard practice.
If you are traveling with large suitcases or have more than four passengers, you’ll want to book a Lyft XL. These are larger vehicles that can better accommodate luggage and higher numbers of passengers. The cost will be a bit higher for this service than a regular-sized vehicle.
Taxi service is also available from both airports in Houston, but the price of a taxi will likely be higher than what you will pay for a rideshare service. Expect to pay at least $125+ one-way from IAH airport and $75+ from HOU airport.
Because the prices of taxis are higher, we recommend using a rideshare service first.
Booking shuttles through Royal Caribbean
Royal Caribbean offers a shuttle service to and from both the George Bush Intercontinental and William P. Hobby airports, and this can be one of the most convenient options for travelers.
Royal Caribbean’s round trip shuttle service pricing varies by airport and is priced per person.
- George Bush Intercontinental: $80 roundtrip
- William P. Hobby: $64 roundtrip
Note: These were the prices I was given for a tentative sailing in October 2022, although prices are subject to change. For the most up to date pricing, contact your travel agent or Royal Caribbean’s Air2Sea program.
When traveling with one or two guests, a shuttle service can make sense, but the price can get high when traveling with 3, 4, 5, or more guests. In this scenario, booking a rideshare or taxi service usually has a better price-per-person ratio.
Independent shuttle companies
While booking through the cruise line can be convenient, you’ll find a better shuttle price through independently operated shuttle companies in Galveston.
Several companies offer shuttle service to and from both the IAH and HOU airports:
Galveston Express offers shuttles priced at $60-65 roundtrip from HOU airport and $70-75 roundtrip from IAH airport.
Galveston Limousine offers the lowest prices, at $50 roundtrip from HOU airport and $60 roundtrip from IAH airport.
Island Breeze Shuttle does pricing a bit differently than their competitors. They price their shuttle at $150 roundtrip from HOU airport and $190 roundtrip from IAH, but the pricing is for 2 passengers.
The 3rd and 4th passenger from HOU airport cost $60 and $30, respectively, and the 3rd and 4th passenger from IAH airport cost $85 and $50. Group rates are also available.
Should I rent a car to get to the Port of Galveston?
Some passengers may look into renting a car from the airport in Houston and driving to the Port of Galveston themselves.
However, this is typically not going to be the most convenient nor cost effective option, especially if you’re unable to secure a one-way car rental and have to pay to park the car for a week.
It can’t hurt to check pricing and availability, though, especially if you’re traveling with a large family and would prefer having a private vehicle. It can also be a nice option if you plan to explore more of the Galveston or Houston areas before or after your cruise.
Because Houston’s airports are located 40-70 miles from the Port of Galveston, it’s important to budget enough time to disembark the cruise ship, travel to Houston, check-in for your flight, and go through security.
Even if your cruise itinerary says you will arrive at the Port of Galveston at 6 or 7 in the morning on disembarkation day, you may not disembark until 7:30-9AM.
Following disembarkation, you’ll need to catch a rideshare/taxi service or board a shuttle bus to the airport. Factoring in traffic and any potential delays, it might take longer than you anticipate to travel from the cruise ship to the airport.
Therefore, the earliest we recommend booking a flight home from Galveston/Houston is 1PM or later on disembarkation day.
If you live within driving distance of Galveston and plan to drive to the port yourself, you’ll find many parking options for the duration of the cruise. Here are some of the most convenient and/or best priced options.
Port of Galveston (official parking)
The Port of Galveston offers official parking at Terminal 3 (Cruise Pier 10), Royal Caribbean’s new cruise terminal in Galveston. Parking can be booked in advance directly from the Port of Galveston’s website.
There are three lots at Cruise Terminal 3: the North Lot, South Lot, and Pier 14 Lot.
The North Lot is priced at $22 per day whereas the South Lot and Pier 14 Lot are $20/day.
Here are a few examples of what parking costs to expect at the Port of Galveston with taxes & fees added:
Adventure of the Seas 4-night cruise:
- North Lot ($97.26), South Lot ($88.60), Pier 14 Lot ($88.60)
Allure of the Seas 7-night cruise:
- North Lot ($168.71), South Lot ($153.55), Pier 14 Lot ($153.55)
Radiance of the Seas 9-night cruise:
- North Lot ($216.34), South Lot ($196.85), Pier 14 Lot ($196.85)
Independently-owned parking lots
There are several independently owned and operated parking lots near the Port of Galveston. All of these lots, however, are located near the original cruise terminals and not Royal Caribbean’s new Galveston terminal.
Most of these parking lots will be about a 7-10 minute drive from the port (or a 30 minute walk). Because Royal Caribbean’s terminal is brand new, it’s best to call the parking companies to check whether or not they will provide shuttles from the lot to Cruise Terminal 3.
Independently owned lots typically offer nice savings when compared to the port’s official parking lots, although prices may be subject to change with the distance required to reach Royal Caribbean’s new cruise terminal.
Here are a few of the best rated places to park near the Port of Galveston:
We always recommend arriving at the cruise port the day before your cruise begins. Unexpected delays and airline cancellations are all too common, so planning to arrive a day ahead of time gives you more wiggle room in case of any mishaps.
If you arrive in Houston late at night, your best bet is to stay near the airport and catch a shuttle or rideshare service to Galveston the following morning. Be sure to still allow yourself plenty of time to travel between Houston and Galveston in case of traffic or other delays.
If you arrive earlier in the day, however, we recommend traveling to Galveston the day before your cruise and spending the night there instead. This ensures you are already at the cruise port and will not have to travel the morning of your cruise.
Several Royal Caribbean Blog readers have shared their best hotel recommendations in our message boards:
- Baymont by Wyndham Galveston
- Springhill Suites by Marriott Galveston Island
- Holiday Inn Express & Suites Galveston Beach
Allure of the Seas
Allure of the Seas will begin sailing from Galveston in November 2022, and she will be the first Oasis Class cruise ship to ever sail from the port.
Allure of the Seas will offer primarily 7-night Western Caribbean cruises visiting Roatan, Costa Maya, and Cozumel.
Harmony of the Seas
Once Allure heads back to Florida in fall 2023, Harmony of the Seas will come to Galveston to offer 7-night Western Caribbean cruises visiting Roatan, Costa Maya, and Cozumel.
Liberty of the Seas
Liberty of the Seas, which has sailed from Galveston for many years, will finish her time in Texas in October 2022. Until then, she is offering 7-night Western Caribbean cruises visiting the ports of Cozumel, Grand Cayman, Falmouth, Belize City, Roatan, and Costa Maya.
Adventure of the Seas
Adventure of the Seas will be offering shorter cruises from Galveston, with 4-night and 5-night Western Caribbean cruise itineraries.
4-night cruises have two sea days and one port day in Cozumel, whereas the 5-night cruises have two sea days and two port days: one in Costa Maya and the other in Cozumel.
These cruises will be offered from November 2022 to April 2023.
Voyager of the Seas
Once Adventure of the Seas departs Galveston in spring 2023, Voyager of the Seas will begin offering the same 4 and 5-night itineraries in the Western Caribbean.
A few other sailings are available as well: a 6-night cruise visiting Cozumel, Roatan, and Costa Maya and a 5-night cruise visiting Yucatan (Progreso) and Cozumel.
Radiance of the Seas
Radiance of the Seas will sail from Galveston from January to April 2023, offering varied itineraries which range from 6-10 nights in length.
Depending on the itinerary, you can visit Yucatan (Progreso), Costa Maya, Cozumel, Grand Cayman, Falmouth, Belize City, Cartagena, Colón, Roatan, Key West, Nassau, Bimini, Grand Bahama Island, and Perfect Day at CocoCay.
A 15-night Panama Canal cruise will also be offered from Galveston, visiting Grand Cayman, Cartagena, Colón, San Juan del Sur, and Puerto Vallarta before ending in Los Angeles, California.
Grandeur of the Seas
Grandeur of the Seas offers limited 4 and 5-night Western Caribbean cruise itineraries in fall 2022, visiting Cozumel and Costa Maya, Mexico.
Planning a Royal Caribbean cruise? Start here:
- 8 cruise tips for first-time Royal Caribbean cruisers
- What’s included in your Royal Caribbean cruise fare
- 5 quick and easy tips for finding a great shore excursion on your own
- Food on a Royal Caribbean cruise
- Which is the best Royal Caribbean cruise ship?
- What is the best time to go on a Caribbean cruise?