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  1. Royal Caribbean has committed to invest nearly $100 million in a new 200,000 square foot Terminal 3 in Galveston by the fall of 2021. Royal Caribbean has said this kind of investment would likely mean that Oasis Class and Icon Class ships would sail from here. The new terminal will have facial recognition technology for Customs and Border Protection operations. Galveston is the fourth busiest cruise port in the USA and the 11th busiest in the world. Cruise ships calling Galveston their home include: Liberty of the Seas - 154,407 GT - 3,648 Passengers - 7 night sailings Enchantment of the Seas - 82,910 GT - 2,284 Passengers - 4-5 night sailings (Repositions to San Juan Nov 2020) Adventure of the Seas - 137,276 GT - 3,114 Passengers - 4-5 night sailings (Arrives 16 Nov 2020) Carnival Vista - 133,500 GT - 3,934 Passengers Carnival Dream - 130,000 GT - 3,646 Passengers Carnival Freedom - 110,000 GT - 2,980 Passengers Carnival Radiance (Formerly Carnival Victory) - 101,500 GT - 2,984 Passengers (Arrives 14 May 2021) Disney Wonder - Nov/Dec/Jan holiday sailings each year Cruise Terminal 1, which serves mainly Carnival, is the largest single-berth cruise facility in the world at over 257,000 square feet. There is a variety of information about sailing from the Port of Galveston in various posts across these message boards. I've decided to consolidate what I have posted elsewhere and add some other Galveston information here. I will try to update this post as I think of additional information that cruisers may need, or if you request specifics. Here we go! 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: HOU is a large hub for Southwest Airlines. They often don't show up on the travel booking sites so you need to book at www.southwest.com. You can't beat their "bags fly free" policy and "no change fees". Here are some options for getting to Galveston from the airport: Galveston Limousine Service - 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. Currently the pricing for the scheduled service from Hobby Airport to the Cruise Terminal is $20/person one way if you book online. From Hobby to your hotel is about $25/person one way. Owned by a local family of good folks. Galveston Express - Their pricing starts at $25/person each way. Uber - Uber and other ride sharing companies now operate in Galveston! Arrange a Towne Car or Suburban in advance and the fare from HOU to Port of Galveston should be about $140-150 plus tip 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 and Sunday from 8 am until 1 pm, so you can drop off on the weekends as well as week days. Some others on the message boards have rented a car at the airport for the week, paid to park it at the port, and then returned it to the airport upon disembarking. Arriving By Car I-45 is undergoing several phases of construction that will continue through 2022 and beyond. TxDOT is widening I-45 all the way to Galveston Island. 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: Continue straight on Broadway as the interstate ends. Continue to 22nd street and turn left. Follow 22nd and it will dead end at the entrance to the cruise terminals. This route will avoid the lengthy backup on Harborside Drive. As you enter the Cruise Terminal area, stay to the left to bypass the Carnival Cruise drop-off area, then you will see that big familiar Royal Caribbean ship at Terminal 2. Drop your luggage with the porters, and then proceed to your parking location. It is highly recommended that you drop your luggage at the terminal before parking. This prevents you from lugging all of those suitcases on and off of a shuttle bus. Parking Matt points out elsewhere on the message boards that if you just Google "Galveston cruise parking" you will see several parking options. I highly recommend researching on Google and then making a reservation on line with one of the parking companies, especially if you want an indoor or covered space as these sell out (especially now, with so many ships sailing from Galveston). Prepaying usually gets you about a 10% discount and a guaranteed parking space. Port Parking has several locations with indoor, outdoor, and indoor park & walk in historic industrial buildings. Located a few blocks from the terminal, they have shuttle busses to get you to the port, and they also have an indoor park & walk option. They also have electric vehicle chargers, including Tesla destination chargers. I parked here for a recent cruise and had great service. I am personal friends with one of the partners in this venture and they are good folks who own other local businesses. The closest indoor option is also walkable to the ship: Galveston Park N Cruise. I have used them several times and they are very nice and helpful people. You can drop your bags and family at the pier and then go park your car and walk back to the ship. You can prepay for "official" Port of Galveston parking and receive a discount. The Port of Galveston offers covered, uncovered, and garage parking. I have driven past all of the private lots and the "official" lot and they are all fenced and gated. Some may be a little nicer than others but I would have no hesitation using any of them. Prices vary based on distance from the ship and whether the spaces are open, covered, or indoor. They are all only a short shuttle ride to the ship and some are walkable. Many of the private lots that provide shuttles now offer a discounted rate if you "park and walk" instead of riding the shuttle. We have done this a couple of times and enjoy walking a few blocks to the ship after dropping off our bags at the pier (if it's not too hot, humid, or raining of course). Hotels 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. The Tremont House is also very walkable to the Strand, the Port and nice restaurants, museums, and shopping. The Tremont House is a Wyndham Hotel 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 many Friday and Saturday nights. There are plenty of other hotels on the Island, many along the Seawall facing the Gulf of Mexico. Some provide transportation to the port or offer park & cruise options. Call the hotel that you are interested in to confirm that they provide cruise parking. Galveston has a wide range of hotel prices 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. Galveston Dining Looking for a great dining experience in Galveston? 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). Most 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. 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." Mama Teresa's Flying Pizza and Italian - 416 21st Street - This is the place for pizza. They also have nice Italian dishes. Convenient to the Post Office Street Arts District for a nice after-dinner stroll. 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. 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 - Gourmet sandwiches, salads, soups, Panini. European-trained chef/owner, spotlessly clean restaurant and kitchen. Vegan options. Brews Brothers Brew Pub - 2404 Strand - Huge craft beer selection, creative American bar food, and soccer matches on the televisions. Order at the bar and they bring to your table. Very casual. You wouldn't expect it for a bar, but the food here is excellent. Burgers, fresh made chips, and daily/weekly specials. Much more quiet and way better food than the establishment next door with the loud music. Shark Shack - 2402 Strand - Casual seafood and burgers with a full bar and several local beers on tap. Stuttgarden Tavern - NO LONGER RECOMMENDED DUE TO A DECLINE IN SERVICE, SANITATION, AND YELP RATINGS Olympia Grill at Pier 21 - CLOSED AS OF APRIL 2019 Taquilo's - 2101 Post Office - cool corner Tex-Mex restaurant on artsy Post Office Street. Can be crowded but they don't take reservations, so arrive early on weekends, or try them for lunch. Gumbo Bar - 2105 Post Office - New Orleans flair, Gumbo, cioppino, seafood, po' boys, huge beer selection. After dinner, have dessert across the street at Hey Mikey's Ice Cream or Mod Coffeehouse (see below). Try their outside seating for nice street views - a great place to people watch! 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. Farley Girls Cafe - 801 Post Office Street - Free validated parking lot adjacent (on Post Office Street). Owned by two local sisters, this is one of those places where everything is great. Casual, order at the counter and they deliver it to your table. Lunch served daily plus weekend brunch. Closed for dinner. Good place for a quick but excellent meal. Note: as of June 1, 2019 Farley Girls Cafe will be owned by Houston's Buck's Barbeque. They promise only subtle changes to the menu, like adding barbeque. The name will eventually change. It will be interesting to see how this develops! 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. 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, etc. "Brew selection as vast as the ocean view, Southern Farm Fresh Food from people who know why southerners are the best cooks." Embarkation Experience The terminal is open very early for check-in now (I try to arrive around 9:45 am and the terminal is already open for check-in). First you go through security (there are two lines: one for Expedited Arrival if you qualified by checking in on the Royal Caribbean app, and one line for everybody else. After going through security there is a large check-in area with several well-marked lines depending on what Crown and Anchor status you have and whether you are in a Suite. Boarding commences around 11:00 am (depending on when the ship is ready to accept guests) starting with Pinnacle Crown and Anchor members, then working their way down to Diamond Plus, Diamond, etc. Disembarkation Experience Self-assist disembarkation has become so popular that the lines to get off the ship for self-assist are very long! You may want to relax and have breakfast in the Main Dining Room and disembark the ship in a more leisurely fashion. Bringing Back Liquor & Cigarettes If you sail from the Port of Galveston, the Texas Alcoholic Beverage Commission (TABC) has agents sitting at a table after you clear Immigration. They 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 (this also applies if importing from another state, but that's difficult for the TABC to collect). 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 and they will give you a receipt and a sticker to place on the bottle. Failure to pay the tax and obtain the appropriate stamp will subject violators to a fine ranging from $100 to $1,000 and/or a jail term of up to one year. We stayed legal and paid the $3.25 for our single bottle. I do not know if they do random luggage checks. Have a nice day and welcome home! 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, go here (they have a pretty big following when ships are arriving and departing the port). There are several Carnival ships here as well, and they often block the view of the Royal Caribbean ships when they are alongside the dock. Try the Cruise Cam, Pier 23 Cam, Strand Cam, Marina Cam, Emerald Cam for some cool live video.
  2. Hi, does anyone know if there is a Vitality cafe on Adventure (either next to the spa or next to the gym)? Would they serve smoothies and/or green juice? I have Refreshment package, so if they do serve, would it be included in the Refreshment package? And if there's no vitality cafe, then is there a place to get smoothies or fresh juice in the morning? TIA
  3. Hello All, I was looking at possibly booking the Chefs Table for our sailing in October. Can anyone tell me if the menu RC posts on their website is the same menu every day or is it just an example? Also those who have experienced it, how much have you paid for it... i.e. what should i keep my eye out for on the Cruise Planner for a good deal? TIA
  4. As always trying to figure out how to start off another LIVEish. Laying in the room at the Embassy Suites on 17th in Ft. Lauderdale overlooking the port Adventure will soon be docked at. Yesterday (the 4th) was a travel day, sitting on a bus (RedCoach) from 7:30 in the morning until just a bit after 5:00 (versus the scheduled 4:10) in the afternoon. Didn't really have much of an opportunity to move around at the Orlando stopping point. Due to traffic delays outside of Gainesville we were running around 30 or 40 minutes late. As a result when we hit Orlando we were transferred to different bus that immediately left. Good thing for me, not getting to sleep until 4 am allowed me to sleep just about the entire journey. After getting dropped off at the Ft. Lauderdale airport used Lyft XL for the somewhat quick trip from airport to hotel, most of that time I'm sure was spent just getting out of the arrivals area of the airport. For those that are curious about cost: Lyft XL fare (3.64mi, 13m 21s) $19.36. Booked once again the "Premium Suite", sad to report that our friend the vending machine is gone. Been replaced by a snack basket that was left in the room. One of the great things staying in this area is the easy access to a shopping center. With that in mind and a cue from so many in the past wound out having dinner at La Bamba. Wound up ordering the Fiesta Combination that consisted of Chicken Burrito and Chunk Beef Enchilada plus served with yellow rice and refried beans. By the time we left it was getting on the busy side. With some time to kill and wanting to do some walking to help things settle wound up walking down to explore Total Wine. No purchases for onboard consumption, not much of a wine drinker. After a bit headed back to the hotel to enter a blissful food coma for a bit (yes more sleeping) and then finally getting around to posting this. What is to come on Adventure is going to be a new port stop for me, St. Kitts. Prior to St. Kitts a somewhat typical eastern run: Labadee, San Juan, and St. Maarten. This post is in honor to my dear friends the "Premium Suite" vending machines. Your selections will be missed.
  5. I'm doing something I never do and don't recommend. I'm flying in the day of the cruise, tomorrow. Coming from the US West I'm taking a red eye tonight at midnight to NYC then off to San Juan in the morning landing in San Juan at 12:05pm. I booked air through Royal's Air2Sea program plus I have travel insurance so between the two and with a evening sail away I'm rolling the dice. I came across a deal on this 5 Night cruise and couldn't pass it up. $549 all in, solo in a balcony with $50 OBC. Air2Sea was actually cheaper than Delta direct plus it provides some limited coverage in case of delays. Between air and cruise fare I'm right at $1k for this trip. Shortly after I booked the news of a cheap cruise broke and many members of the RCPeriscopers.live group jumped on board including @mpoole3 who will be live blogging on the main page of RoyalCaribbeanBlog.com so this will be a light blog for me. Keep an eye on the main page for his blog. We have one port of call on this cruise, St Maarten. I have no plans this time and may just take a taxi to Maho Beach and explore that area and a few beaches nearby. On my last stop in St. Maarten I took a coastal catamaran and we sailed past Maho Beach but we were offshore. There are few other beaches close by so I may just beach hop this time. After St Maarten on day 2 we have 3 sea days on our way to Bayonne, NJ where Adventure will spend the summer alternating embarkations with Anthem. On this cruise I transferred the booking over to mpoole3's brother who is a travel agent which netted another $50 in OBC. Consequently gratuities are covered and I'll have little left over for a few drinks since I'm sailing without a drink package. I'm traveling light having crammed everything into a 22" carry on suitcase. That'll help if I have flight delays or need to leverage Air2Sea to fly me to St. Maarten. I should have enough time for a shower in the JFK Delta Sky club in the morning. With no checked luggage I'll have everything with me in the club and as soon as I board Adventure in San Juan. Two other new additions for me on this cruise are a new travel router and some iPhone lens(es). Credit for this travel router goes to @Galveston Steve and credit for the Moment iPhone lens goes to @JLMoran. Indeed this blog has the effect of causing people including myself to spend some money! I've used the new travel router on a couple of business trips to share my free wifi plan on Delta courtesy of TMobile so my non-TMobile work phone and laptop could join. It worked well for that so in the interest of traveling light I'm leaving my trusted travel router at home. It's been a while since I've taken a red eye but it's practice for my overnight flight to Barcelona to join Symphony on her transatlantic to America in October. Looks like my inbound aircraft is now in the air on its way here. So far so good.
  6. I came across this cruise by accident and saw a decent fare for 13 nights on a recently refreshed ship so I had a YOLO moment and booked it. This is a repositioning cruise, part of Adventure's migration from Bayonne, NJ (her summer home port) to Ft. Lauderdale (her winter home port). Day 1 - Quebec City Day 2 - Quebec City Day 3 - Sea Day 4 - Charlottetown, PEI Day 5 - Sydney, Nova Scotia Day 6 - Halifax, Nova Scotia Day 7 - Saint John, New Brunswick Day 8 - Bar Harbor, Maine Day 9 - Portland, Maine Day 10 - Boston, MA Day 11 - Sea Day 12 - Sea Day 13 - Canaveral, FL Day 14 - Ft. Lauderdale, FL I had a hard time finding decently price flights with decent times directly into Quebec City so I looked at Montreal and found a much cheaper flight. Adding a car rental and it was still cheaper plus I could fly first class less than coach to Quebec City so I jumped at it. No excursions booked, just going to wing it and work some days. This cruise starts with an overnight in place at Quebec City. That is actually a really great way to start because Quebec City is a wonderful old city with great history. While you could fly in days earlier you would have hotel and meals to cover so this way the ship is my hotel and meals are included. Cruising solo the fact I'll get 26 points in the C&A loyalty program wasn't lost on me. For some folks that takes 3 or 4 cruises to achieve. That also propels me to the point I'll get a glass block on Symphony on my next cruise. YOLO!
  7. Hello! First time cruiser here - am curious about a few things. 1. We booked our cruise (Adventure of the Seas, 7 nights, leaving July 6, 2018) through Expedia - I cannot figure out if dining gratuities are included. If not, what is the cost associated with 7 nights? 2. How does my time dining work? I see you can book a time to reserve your main dining room table every night. Can you choose different times each night? What happens if you change your plans and don't show up? Are you charged? Will they cancel future times? 3. To clarify - the buffet and main dining room are included in the cost of your cruise. Only specialty restaurants will be an additional charge? Thank you in advance! I am a crazy Disney World trip planner so I don't know how I didn't realize similar planning would need to happen for a cruise!
  8. Greetings! Please help! I'm looking for a recent Cruise Compass, with the same itinerary as our 4/28/18 Adventure cruise out of San Juan. We have 2 sea days on days 2 & 5. Any help will be appreciated, as we are trying to book dining, etc. for our family reunion/50th anniversary cruise! Many Thanks๐Ÿ˜Ž๐Ÿ˜Ž๐Ÿ˜Ž
  9. Looking at excursions for our upcoming cruise in December on Adventure of the Seas. I am thinking that Nachi Cocum (sp?) in Cozumel would work that day. Any other recommendations for any of the ports. I know that some of the extended family wants to see some Mayan ruins. December 2 - Leave Fort Lauderdale December 3 - Sea Day December 4 - Grand Cayman December 5 - Costa Maya December 6 - Cozumel December 7 - Sea Day December 8 - Disembark Fort Lauderdale
  10. Adventure's dry dock date starts as of tomorrow and will go until mid-Feb. I realize that they are just finishing up the last refurb (adding panoramic state rooms, Izumi, ect). What else does everyone hope to see out of a 30 day dry dock? I myself would like to see her get a fresh coat of paint. Simple yet does so much.
  11. Since both ships are in dry dock near each other, has anyone seen any pics? I have been searching and haven't found anything yet. The webcam in Freeport is offline.
  12. Matt, I just thought I'd give an update about what I saw on the Adventure of the Seas webpage this morning- I was looking this morning at pricing on our cruise in February on Adventure of the Seas and noticed some changes to RCI's site. First off, if you go to the AOS page, it now lists things as "coming soon", like the FlowRider, the water slides, Boleros Latin Lounge, etc. When I started digging deeper, in going to the deck plans, I noticed that they have started to spell out specifically where the changes will be taking place. Here they are: -Flow Rider- Aft deck 13 (all the way back) -Water Slides- Aft deck 13 (one side of the Flow Rider) -Splashaway Bay- Aft deck 13 (other side of the Flow Rider) -10 new inside cabins- deck 3 next to the Photo Gallery (that's how I read it anyway) -19 new cabins- deck 3 where Jesters used to be -Chops Grill- deck 4 where Jesters used to be -Boleros Latin Lounge- deck 4 where the Aquarium Bar used to be -Aquarium bar- deck 4 across the Centrum from where it used to be -Card Room/Library- deck 5 where the Connoisseur Lounge used to be -Izumi- deck 5 middle of the Royal Promenade -38 more cabins- deck 12 in front and around the sides of the Vitality Spa -Suite Lounge- deck 14 where Seven Heart Card room and Cloud Nine used to be The pool deck looks like it remains untouched (thank goodness!). I hope that helps. Please add to this if you notice anything missing. Thanks and I look forward to seeing her all revamped!
  13. I am a brand new newbie to Royal Caribbean and excited about giving it a try. Looking at cruise on Adventure next year but I am very confused about this ship. First, it looks as though it is being refurbished mid-Oct to mid-Nov 2016 but I can not find any details. What will be added and/or changed? Why does it have so few specialty dining venues, especially compared to other ships in her class? Just seems odd. Any other thoughts about this ship? Any help would be appreciated. It is either this or Liberty, but I love the itinerery on Adventure. Thanks!
  14. Does anyone know what the table minimums in the casino are on Adventure?
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