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  1. Allure of the Seas will sail from Galveston beginning 10 Nov 2021! Royal Caribbean will invest $100 million in the new Terminal 3, with construction starting in April 2020. 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. Royal Caribbean is not alone in expanding operations in Galveston, Carnival will expand its Galveston fleet to four full-time ships in 2021. Cruise ships calling Galveston their home port include: Allure of the Seas - 225,300 GT - 5,484 Passengers- 7 night sailings (Arrives 10 Nov 2021) Liberty of the Seas - 154,407 GT - 3,648 Passengers - 7 night sailings (Royal Amplification believed 10 Jan to 21 Mar 2021. Repositions to Miami 31 Oct 2021) 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. Repositions to Copenhagen 21 Apr 2021) Jewel of the Seas - 90,090 GT - 2,191 Passengers - 7-11 night sailings (Arrives from Rome 11 Dec 2020, apparently repositioning to Europe 22 Mar 2021) 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. Cruise Terminal 2 which currently serves Royal Caribbean, Carnival, and Disney, was expanded in 2017 to accommodate larger cruise ships. 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 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. Currently the pricing for the scheduled service from Hobby Airport to Galveston is $25/person one way if you book online. Owned by a local family of good folks. Galveston Express - Their pricing starts at $30/person each way. Uber - Uber and other ride sharing companies now operate in Galveston! 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. 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. This has become my preferred parking choice due to the 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 parked at (or 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. This is my preferred pre-cruise hotel. They offer cruise parking (now for a fee) and shuttle service at their sister property, the Hotel Galvez, when you stay at least one night (call to confirm details). 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. You may be able to get a nice rate on priceline.com using the Name Your Own Price tool. 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." NEW! Katie's Seafood House - 2000 Wharf Road (On the water, adjacent to the Port of Galveston) - This new restaurant opened in mid-2019 and is the only restaurant in Galveston that catches their own seafood! I tried it for lunch in January and had great food, good service, and a wonderful view of the Port of Galveston from their covered outdoor deck. 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 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 3 pm, closed Sunday). Gourmet sandwiches, salads, soups, Panini. 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 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. 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. Embarkation Experience The terminal is open at 9:30 am for check-in. We have dropped off our bags as early as 8:40 am. 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 lines and agents with iPads to quickly check you in. 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 stay legal and pay the $3.25 for our single bottle if we bring one back. 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. Certainly not a life-or-death or terribly important question, but one that I've been curious about for awhile: what is the difference between a 1V and a 2V class room on Oasis class ships? Pictures, deck plans, etc. seem to indicate they're identical (as does the price), but there must be some difference or else there wouldn't be a class difference, right?
  3. 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.
  4. I am looking at the deck plans for Harmony of the Seas right now on CruiseMapper (https://www.cruisemapper.com/deckplans/Symphony-Of-The-Seas-1730/deck18-5113) and on deck 18 it states this: “Blown Away” (zone 6-B, starboard aft) is a stairway passage leading to the unofficial (secret) deck 19. This is the highest passenger-accessible vantage point of the Symphony cruise ship. There is a small seating area (few wicker tables/chairs) and can be seen the ship’s funnels (with the RCI’s anchor logo) and radio-antennas. Other than this statement i have found no other evidence of this deck existing to the public, but will not be back on an oasis class ship myself for about a year to find out for myself. I have found no videos or pictures anywhere else, and the only video I found showing this area is from the ship in dry dock with the building crew up there, not very good proof of it being for passengers. This same statement is made on the deck plans of all oasis class ships on their website. So, does anyone have any information about this?
  5. I Would Be There But I Am Still On Rhapsody Of The Seas Until The 11th
  6. Hey Cruising Friends! Big fan of Royal Caribbean. My only gripe is the lack of craft beers available onboard. If I'm lucky Sierra Nevada will be available in limited quantities. I was hoping that Harmony of the Seas would offer better craft beer options and it did not. Anyone know what the tap selection is inside Playmakers? Thanks!
  7. Thought I'd post this here. On the last podcast Matt talked about my love of specialty dining. This is from the original thread from 2010 I posted on Cruise Critic titled, The Almost Complete Food Lovers Guide to the Oasis of the Seas. I put it into one document. It's a bit dated by now, but I think it's still useful for anyone wondering about specialty dining on Oasis class or pretty much any Royal Caribbean ship. If anyone has questions about dining, I'd be very glad to help. The Almost Complete Food Lovers Guide.pdf
  8. I've been on a number of cruises so far: Royal Caribbean: Freedom & Legend Celebrity: Horizon & Zenith (no longer in service) Norwegian: Dreamward & Norway Cunard: QE2 I've been on ships both great and small, and with Royal's new Quantum and Oasis class, and "Oasis 4 (Symphony)" in production, it's making me wonder if Royal might put out any newer smaller ships. Are they only going for the biggest and baddest ships, or might they come out with something in-between to keep that small ship feel but still be innovative and cutting-edge... Might this Icon class that's in the works be bigger than Oasis? Fit somewhere in between? What do you all think ?
  9. Ok, so I want to tap into the brain of anyone who has been on the Oasis since the refurb and has been able to see or take photos of the new suites added to the Oasis overlooking the Aquatheater. Specifically the ones Deck 11 and above, these were the secret balconies before the dry dock. RCCL has them classified as A2-A4, and their website gives square footage but no current images. I booked my cruise for June 16' and was able to reserve a A1 on deck 8, but curious about these newer additions. Photos and Feedback appreciated. B-
  10. Royal Caribbean acquired the names, Quantum of the Seas, Anthem of the Seas, Ovation of the Seas, Passion of the Seas, Pulse of the Seas and Vantage of the Seas. We later found out the two names of the first 'sunshine project' ships which were Quantum of the Seas and Anthem of the Seas. But out of these already acquired names what should the third Quantum and third Oasis class ships be called? Personally I think the third Quantum class should be called Vantage of the Seas and third Oasis class should be Ovation of the Seas. What do you think?
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