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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 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. Thanks to @Wilson for tipping me off to this! Today's Galveston Daily News is reporting that the Port is near a deal with Royal Caribbean to bring an Oasis Class ship to Galveston in late 2020. The Port says Royal Caribbean would build the terminal on land leased from the Port of Galveston. The full article from the Galveston Daily News requires a subscription, but here is the full text: GALVESTON - July 15, 2018 Port of Galveston officials are nearing an agreement with Royal Caribbean to build a third cruise terminal at the Port of Galveston that could cost $85 million and bring the world’s largest passenger ship to the island in 2020. “We’re working toward a really good agreement,” said Ted O’Rourke, chairman of the port’s governing board. “It’s a great opportunity if we are able to put it together.” Port Director Rodger Rees in March announced that Royal Caribbean wanted to bring an Oasis-class ship to the island, but that doing so would require a new cruise terminal. The port already is home to two cruise terminals at piers 25 and 27, but the size of the Oasis-class ships requires additional support, officials said. Royal Caribbean’s Oasis-class ships, of which there are four with more planned, are more than 1,180 feet long and capable of carrying more than 6,200 passengers. Officials are discussing putting the third cruise terminal at Pier 10, next to the Wallenius Wilhelmsen Logistics and BMW vehicle processing plant, Rees said. “Right now, the talk is about having Royal Caribbean come in and build the terminal themselves, then we’d have them lease the land from the port, sharing in revenues with them. We’d control the parking aspect of it,” Rees said. Royal Caribbean officials did not respond to a request for comment by deadline Friday. The proposed facility would have to be about 155,000 square feet, port officials said. The BMW facility would not have to move under current plans, Rees said. The benefit of having Royal Caribbean build the cruise terminal would be that the port wouldn’t have to take on substantial debt and would, instead, be able to focus on its substantial infrastructure needs, Rees said. Ever since the Carnival Celebration made its first voyage from the island in September 2000, the port has come to depend more and more on the cruise business for revenues. The port depends heavily on revenues from cruise ships. Port officials anticipate about 55 percent of revenue budgeted for 2018 will be cruise related. Port officials are projecting operating revenues of about $37.4 million in 2018 against operating expenditures of $37.2 million, according to documents. “This doesn’t use up our borrowing power to build a new terminal,” Rees said. Addressing dilapidated facilities at the island’s public docks could cost as much as $250 million, a problem exacerbated by the fact the port is projected to bring in only about $250,000 in net income in 2018, port officials said. For a third cruise terminal to be ready to host an Oasis-class ship in the fall of 2020, officials will need a project planned and designed by about November, Rees said in a previous interview with The Daily News. There is not yet a final agreement with Royal Caribbean, and all details of the proposed third cruise terminal could still change, Rees said. The Wharves Board of Trustees must approve whatever agreement is eventually reached with the cruise line, Trustee Elizabeth Beeton said. The Port of Galveston is a landlord port, which generates much of its income from lease agreements with maritime tenants and fees related to ship calls. The port is home to three year-round Carnival Cruise Line ships, one year-round Royal Caribbean ship, one seasonal Royal Caribbean ship and a seasonal Disney Cruise Lines ship. The Carnival Vista, the cruise line’s newest and biggest ship, will arrive at Galveston’s docks Sept. 23.
  3. We are planning our first transatlantic cruise next year. Can we get info on things like the weather, activities, etc?
  4. We have the Deluxe Beverage Package for the Liberty of the Seas out of Galveston. We'd like to know where we can get alcoholic beverages on-board on Day 1? I've read that Texas laws prohibit the sale of certain beverages until day 2. What drinks are also available on Day 1 of the cruise? Is there a limited beverage menu? When we called RC, the person we talked to was very vague in her response.
  5. Anyone on the September 10 cruise out of Galveston? It breaks my heart to see the devastation in Houston and we are anxiously watching for any news on reopening the port.
  6. My wife & I are going on the Liberty out of Galveston. For disembarkation day, we are planning on walking off the ship with our own luggage. The ship is supposed to arrive at 6:30 AM. Does anyone have an idea of how long it will take before they let passengers walk off on? We are trying to determine what time to arrange car transportation that day. Thanks!
  7. Hello, I am new to the forums and this is my first post. I'm really happy to have found this group and all the information! I recently booked a 5 night Holiday sailing out of Galveston on the Vision of the Seas. It will be the first cruise for the 5 in our family ( myself, husband and 3 teenagers). I'm concerned because of the mixed reviews I'm seeing on this ship. I chose this sailing because of the port and sail date and because no one in my family has interest in the really huge ships.(strange I know) The main activity everyone seems to be interested in is seeing mayan ruins, and to have a nice family vacation. Im hoping for some input on my choice from experienced RC cruisers! Also, we will be in port New Years Eve and New Years day. Will any tours be running on those days? Thanks for All! Katie
  8. We are staying in a hotel in Galveston the night before our cruise. Does Galveston have a cab service? and/or does it allow Uber or Lyft? (a way to get to the port basically!). Also - what time do you usually go to the Port in Galveston? (Liberty of the Seas) Would love to know any places we should eat/see while in Galveston!
  9. Taking my first cruise out of Galveston and after booking the cruise, I realized transportation options in Galveston leave much to be desired. So for those that have cruised out of Galveston.... Can you recommend transportation options from IAH to Galveston? Can you recommend a hotel in Galveston or near the port? Anything else I need to know about this port? Thanks in advance
  10. Hey all, I'm cruising on September 21 out of Galveston. There will be 5 of us and I'm looking for affordable transportation from IAH to Galveston on the 20th. I've looked up various taxi fares, shuttles, car rentals, and cruise transfers, all ranging from $290+ round-trip. I've found a 10 passenger shuttle for $350 round-trip. Is there anyone else looking for transportation that knows of better deals or interested in splitting shuttle costs? Thanks!
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