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UPDATED 28 December 2022 (Added info on MSC's potential 4th cruise terminal, deleted Southwest Airlines as a recommended option) Construction of Royal Caribbean's new Cruise Terminal is complete! The first ship call at Terminal 10 was Allure of the Seas on 9 Nov 2022 with a Media and Travel Partner Cruise. Galveston is the fourth busiest cruise port in the USA and the 10th busiest in the world. Cruise ships calling Galveston their home port include: Allure of the Seas - 225,282 GT - 5,484 Passengers - 7 night sailings (Repositions to Port Canaveral 27 Oct 2023) Harmony of the Seas - 225,282 GT - 5,484 Passengers - 7 night sailings (Arrives 1 Nov 2023 from Miami) Adventure of the Seas - 137,276 GT - 3,114 Passengers - 4-5 night sailings Radiance of the Seas - 90,090 GT - 2,143 Passengers - 6-10 night sailings plus a 15-night Panama Canal crossing (Arrives 30 Jan 2023 from New Orleans. Repositions to Los Angeles 21 Apr 2023) Voyager of the Seas - 137,276 GT - 3,602 Passengers - 4-6 night sailings (Arrives 9 May 2023 from San Juan) Carnival Vista - 133,500 GT - 3,934 Passengers Carnival Dream - 130,000 GT - 3,646 Passengers Carnival Breeze - 130,000 GT - 3,690 Passengers Carnival Jubilee - 182,800 GT - 5,374 Passengers - LNG Powered (Arrives 17 Nov 2023 from Southampton) Ruby Princess - 114,561 GT - 3,080 Passengers (Arrives 18 Dec 2022 through Apr 2023. Returns Oct 2023 to Apr 2024.) Norwegian Prima - 142,500 GT - 3,215 Passengers (Special sailing 31 Oct 2022. Home ports in Galveston 15 Dec 2023) Disney Wonder - Nov/Dec/Jan holiday sailings each year MSC - has signed a memorandum of agreement with the Port of Galveston to build a fourth cruise terminal! New Cruise Terminal Information Officially named "Cruise Terminal 10", the building is owned and operated by a 50/50 partnership of Royal Caribbean and Ceres Terminals Inc. on land leased from the Port of Galveston. Ceres helped fund the project and will provide stevedoring and terminal operations. The facility is designed to handle Oasis and Icon Class ships, Royal Caribbean's largest cruise ships. As the world's first zero-energy cruise terminal you can expect to find innovative design throughout this facility in things you see and also things you don't see. Below is a map of the new terminal area and parking lots operated by the Port of Galveston. All of these lots are surface parking lots. Go to the Port's parking information page for more information and sign up for their loyalty program. You'll get an immediate $5 discount on your first reservation, the loyalty program equals a 10% discount on future parking, and they will send periodic discount codes that can all be combined for savings. Disabled veterans also get a discount. Tip: you will find much less expensive options by using off-site parking operators which I have listed below in the Parking section of this post. My favorite parking option: North Premium Covered Lot - it's only a few feet from the cruise terminal and it's covered. It's also the highest price option. Lyft and Uber are the approved major rideshare companies operating at the Port of Galveston. Although they previously refused to sign an agreement with the Port, Uber has now woke to the fact that they need to play ball with the Port of Galveston. If you are driving to the ship, the Port is partnering with Waze to provide real time traffic information for the best route to the terminal based on road congestion, train crossings, etc. Just use Waze and one of the parking lot addresses shown on the above map. All parking lots have covered shuttle bus stops with buses circulating continuously to the cruise terminal, and there are plenty of covered walkways for a comfortable stroll from the parking areas to the terminal. Electric Vehicle chargers will soon be available in the North Premium Lot (covered). Please see below for parking lots operated by private businesses and other considerations related to parking. Luggage can be dropped off at the terminal on Royal Caribbean Circle. Upon entering the terminal building, General check in is located up the escalators on the left (west) end of the terminal, while Suites and Pinnacles check in is located up the escalators on the right (east) end of the terminal. The right (east) end of the terminal on Royal Caribbean Circle is also the entrance for Suites, Pinnacles, and Star Class guests, with Star Class drop-off at area 6 (purple columns). When disembarking at Cruise Terminal 10 there is facial recognition for quick passage through Customs and Border Protection. Then you claim your luggage and make your way out of the terminal to the pick up area on Royal Caribbean Way. As you can see on the above map, the embarking passenger ground transportation area (on Royal Caribbean Circle) is distinctly separated from the disembarking passenger ground transportation area on Royal Caribbean Way for better traffic flow. Planning & Tourist Info You can't beat this website for information on everything that is happening in Galveston: www.galveston.com Transportation Fly into HOU (Houston Hobby Airport) if you can. It's much closer to Galveston than IAH (Bush Intercontinental Airport) and you won't have the Houston traffic to deal with. Tip: my favorite airline option is JSX, a semi-private airline that uses private jet terminals at a few airports across the country. You can essentially fly "private" and avoid crowded airport terminals, for about the price of a first class ticket. JSX flies to Houston Hobby Airport. Here are some options for getting to Galveston from the airport: Galveston Saltwater Moms - a highly rated "personal driver" service. You book by sending them a personal message on Facebook. They are a licensed Transportation Provider with the Port of Galveston, which means they can legally operate at the cruise terminals. They have a $500,000 bond and commercial insurance through Progressive. Give them a try as an alternative to the big guys. Galveston Limo - provides very affordable shared rides from the two Houston airports with either their scheduled service (8 trips per day) or you can arrange a private car. Owned by a local family of good folks. Galveston Express Lyft and Uber - Lyft and Uber now operate in Galveston. Lyft has a contract with the Port of Galveston to bring passengers to and from the cruise terminals. Uber has chosen not to sign a contract with the Port, but can still operate in other areas of Galveston. Blacklane - a premium option for upper end vehicles like Black Sedan or Black SUV. You can reserve days or weeks in advance and cancel up to 1 hour prior to pickup time. Rates include gratuities, professional drivers, no "peak" surcharges or port surcharges. Drivers show up when scheduled. A bit more expensive but worth the price to reduce to stress you have with Uber/Lyft drivers canceling or having peak rates when departing the ship. I've used them in Galveston and Los Angeles with good results. Enterprise Rent A Car - Enterprise is the only rental car company on the island. You should be able to rent from Enterprise at the airport and drop it off on the Island. The Island location is open on Saturday (before Covid it was also open on Sunday). Check with Enterprise directly for updated hours and shuttle arrangements. Arriving By Car I-45 is undergoing several phases of construction that will continue through 2023 and beyond. TxDOT is widening I-45 all the way to Galveston Island so expect some delays and congestion. I-45 south ends on Galveston Island. When arriving on the island, if you turn off at the "Cruise Terminal" exit (Harborside Drive) you will hit a traffic back-up as you approach the cruise terminals. To avoid this traffic jam, as you drive down I-45 and arrive on the Island, continue straight on Broadway as the interstate ends and follow these directions: If you've reserved parking through the official Port of Galveston website, continue straight on Broadway as the interstate ends. Continue to 14th street and turn left. Follow 14th and it will dead end at the entrance to the new Cruise Terminal 10 area. This route will avoid the lengthy backup on Harborside Drive. As you enter the Cruise Terminal area, follow the signs to your pre-arranged parking lot or to the drop off or pick up areas. Parking If you search "Galveston cruise parking" you will see plenty of parking options. I highly recommend making a reservation on line with one of the parking companies, especially if you want an indoor space as these will sell out (especially now, with so many ships sailing from Galveston). Prepaying usually gets you a 5-10% discount and a guaranteed parking space. Things to consider in addition to price: Elevation - heavy rains can quickly flood the streets of Galveston, and not just during a hurricane. Leaving your car in an elevated spot will provide peace of mind against flooding if an unexpected storm comes in. Inside Building, or Outdoor Lot? - outdoor surface lots are cheaper, but your car is exposed to the south Texas sun and weather. A building provides better protection and security. Discounts & Loyalty - there are extra savings if you sign up for loyalty programs online and apply for any applicable discount. Reserve your parking after your account is set up and tagged with the applicable discount. You can combine loyalty and one discount but you can't have multiple discounts. The loyalty programs often mail discount codes to members. Security - parking lots are fenced and gated. Buildings are enclosed and locked. Some facilities have security cameras. The Port of Galveston claims that the Port Police patrol their lots 24/7 which you won't find at the private parking lots. Electric Vehicle Charging - more and more lots are offering EV chargers. If you drive an EV like I do, you will appreciate having your car fully charged when you disembark. This perk is currently free at all parking facilities where it is offered. The Port of Galveston will offer EV charging for an additional fee by scanning a QR code and paying online after parking at the charger. Remember that even a 110 volt plug will fully charge your car over the course of several days. Here is my comparison of some of the parking options. I have used Port Parking, EZ Cruise, and the Port of Galveston parking all without any issues. Hotels Galveston hotel prices are quite variable depending on day of week (weekends obviously much higher), whether there are major events happening, and the season (summer is the busy season here). Booking hotels during Mardi Gras (February), Lone Star Biker Rally (early November), Art Walk (every 6 weeks) and other major events will be much more expensive. Some hotels have a 2 night minimum on weekends. Ever since travel resumed following Covid, hotel prices on Galveston Island have gone way up. I love staying on the island before a cruise, but if the price is too high I stay along I-45 in Webster, League City, or Texas City where you'll find much lower hotel rates. There are a couple of hotels near the port and the historic Strand District in Galveston. It's a great idea to arrive a day or two early and enjoy the island ambiance. The Harbor House is very convenient to the ship and to many nice restaurants, museums, and shopping. Caution: Our room had a smell of mildew when we stayed here in May 2021, but others have reported no such issue. The Tremont House is also very walkable to the Strand, the Port and nice restaurants, museums, and shopping. This is my preferred pre-cruise hotel and will become a Marriott property in late 2022! The Tremont House is located in a beautiful historic building. The Tremont's rooftop bar has wonderful views of the island and port area. The lobby bar has live jazz on most Friday and Saturday nights. There are plenty of other hotels on the Island, many along the Seawall facing the Gulf of Mexico. Hotels providing transportation to the port or offer park & cruise options can be found here. Call the hotel that you are interested in to confirm that they provide cruise parking. Galveston Dining (And A Few Drinking Establishments) Please avoid the tourist traps and chain restaurants that will leave you disappointed. Eat at these locally owned restaurants that use locally sourced, fresh food, including fresh Gulf seafood right from the docks in Galveston. All restaurants are casual dress unless noted, and all are family friendly (even most of the bars). Many serve craft beer on tap from Galveston Island Brewing. My only connection to these places is that I have personally eaten at them multiple times and I love them all! Rudy and Paco - 2028 Post Office St (21st and Post Office) - Arguably the best restaurant on the island. Wonderful food with a South and Central American flair. Best service on the island. A little expensive but worth it. We like going for lunch because it's very affordable (lunch served weekdays only). No shorts allowed at dinner. Reservations suggested and are a must on weekends or when The 1890 Grand Theater has an event. Riondo's Ristorante - 2328 Strand (24th and Strand) - Our favorite Italian restaurant on the island, and they also serve great seafood and steak. Beautiful historic building built in 1895 in the Strand Historic District. "Farm to Fork" sourcing and they make their own pasta. Tell them you "want a table in the vault." Katie's Seafood House - 2000 Wharf Road (On the water, adjacent to the Port of Galveston) - This is the only restaurant in Galveston that catches their own seafood! Enjoy great food, good service, and a wonderful view of the Port of Galveston from their covered outdoor deck. They offer free parking in the lot in front of the restaurant at 20th & Harborside (call the restaurant at (409) 765-5688 and select to option to hear the parking code). Cafe at the Tremont House - 2300 Ships Mechanic Row (Mechanic Street) - Beautiful historic hotel built in 1879 near the Strand Historic District. Enter the main entrance, up a few stairs, and the cafe is just off the lobby to the right. Nice salads, flatbread pizzas, Panini served in a casual atmosphere. Most weekend evenings there is live jazz in the lobby, which is why we go here (in addition to the good food and casual, historic atmosphere). There is a beautiful bar at the opposite end of the lobby with several Galveston Brewing options on tap. Before or after dinner, take the elevator to the top floor, turn left, and walk to the end of the hall to the rooftop bar to cap off the experience. Eatcetera - 408 25th Street - Lunch only (until 4 pm, closed Sunday). Gourmet sandwiches, salads, soups, Panini. Vegan and gluten free options available. Brews Brothers Brew Pub - 2404 Strand - Huge craft beer selection, creative American bar food. Very casual. You wouldn't expect it for a bar, but the food here is excellent. Burgers (try the "Mission From God"), fresh made chips (try them with Buffalo Sauce & Bleu Cheese), local fish tacos, salads, etc. Order at the bar, grab a table, and enjoy a beer while waiting on your food to be delivered to your table. Texas Tail Distillery - New larger location at 2416 Post Office - On-site distillery for whiskey and vodka. Try the honey whiskey and other infusions. Friendly staff, fun place to try crafted drinks with local liquor, or try them all with a flight of shots! New: several food trucks are often located adjacent to their new location! Blvd. Seafood - 28th and Seawall - One of the best seafood restaurants on the island. There isn't a lot of curb appeal outside but the inside is very nice. The food and service are both quite good and the seafood is all local. The red snapper is amazing and always comes fresh from Katie's Seafood Market. Shucks Tavern - 414 21st Street - Newer hot spot downtown for oysters, seafood, and drinks. Fresh oysters from the most famous oyster beds in America! Mama Teresa's Flying Pizza and Italian - 416 21st Street - Next door to Shucks Tavern, this is the place for pizza. These guys hand toss the pizzas so high they almost touch the very high ceilings in this historic building! They also have nice Italian dishes. Convenient to the Post Office Street Arts District for a nice after-dinner stroll. Grotto Italian - 5222 Seawall (In the San Luis Resort) - Classic Italian restaurant featuring delicious veal, chicken, seafood, pizza, and house made pastas. This one breaks my rule of avoiding the Landrys restaurant chain, but we are convinced it's a great option. Blake's Bistro - 5222 Seawall (In the San Luis Resort) - Great burgers, gumbo, seafood. Overlooks the resort pool and the Gulf of Mexico. This one breaks my rule of avoiding the Landrys restaurant chain, but we have had consistently good experiences and added it to the list. The Cove Poolside Bar - 5222 Seawall (In the San Luis Resort) - Beautiful outdoor poolside bar with a swim-up bar too, all overlooking the Gulf of Mexico. The pool is heated so expect swimmers even in cool weather. Great place to people watch and enjoy a drink with one of the most picturesque views of the Gulf of Mexico on the island. Koops BBQ Kitchen - 4501 Broadway - the only barbecue restaurant on the island that I would recommend. Very clean, very casual, very good meat and homemade sides. Only open for lunch from 11 am to 3 pm. Gypsy Joynt - 6105 Stewart Road - Funky family-run spot with great comfort food. Excellent pizza, burgers, sandwiches, salads, etc. Breads/buns baked fresh multiple times per day. Casual, funky atmosphere. A little off the beaten path in a strip shopping center but definitely one of my favorite casual places for lunch or dinner. Maceo's Spice & Import Company - 2706 Market Street - Excellent muffaletta's, sandwiches. Simple menu to eat in or carry out in this little spice shop. Hey Mikey's Ice Cream - 2120 Post Office Street - Ice cream is made in the store. Unique treats like Ice Cream Nachos (share with a friend) and traditional favorites. You gotta' go here! Note: this place is owned by a nice island family. It is sometimes closed over the winter holidays. Mod Coffeehouse - 2126 Post Office Street - comfortable with plenty of indoor and outdoor seating. Live music many weekend evenings. Coffee, tea, espresso, latte, home baked goods. Red Light Coffee Roasters - 2728 Market Street - popular spot serving locally roasted and sustainably sourced coffee and drinks along with light snacks. Like many places on this list, they are located in a beautiful historic building. Freckleberry Teahouse - 2724 Market Street - next door to Red Light Coffee Roasters, this has become a hot spot for a relaxing hot or iced tea or coffee and a light snack. Comfortable seating is plentiful inside or in their large outdoor area. Jimmy's On The Pier - 9001 Seawall - On the 2nd story above the fishing pier (enter the souvenir shop, exit to the left, and up the stairs). Very casual with great views of the seawall and Gulf. Owner has their own farm and livestock for a true "farm to table" concept; other items locally sourced. Fish tacos, burgers, seafood, local beer, full bar, etc. Bringing Back Liquor & Cigarettes If you sail from the Port of Galveston, the Texas Alcoholic Beverage Commission (TABC) may have agents sitting at a table after you clear Immigration. NOTE: there were no TABC agents present after the first few cruises, but this could change. The agents, if they are present, will ask you if you are bringing back any alcohol or cigarettes. If so, you will need to pay the state tax for importing them into the state, whether they are purchased in the ship's duty free store or in a foreign port of call. Although Texas state tax is due, these items are still exempt of any Federal duty. The law limits personal importation by an adult to once every 30 days with limits of 1 gallon of distilled spirits, 3 gallons of wine, and 288 ounces of malt beverages (24 12-ounce containers). Tax due for a 750ml bottle of wine is $3.25, for a 750ml bottle of distilled spirits is $3.50. These rates include a $3.00 "administrative fee". Cigarette tax is $1.50/pack or $15.00/carton. Other tax rates are available online. You can pay with a credit card (Visa or MasterCard) or cash. They will give you a receipt, but no longer provide a sticker to place on the bottle. Failure to pay the tax will subject violators to a fine ranging from $100 to $1,000 and/or a jail term of up to one year. Galveston Webcams Galveston has some great webcams if you want to see what the cruise port looks like, or if your friends and family want to watch you sail away on Royal Caribbean via several live full-motion HD video cameras.