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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. Correct me if I am wrong but when getting on and off the ship at ports you need a photo ID as well as your sea pass. Does that go for young children as well? My daughters only ID with a photo is her passport ( and she was 6 months old so doesnt even look close to the same). I dont like taking passports on or off the ship because so many things can happen! Want them to stay in the safe! But we have drivers licenses that we can use and she only has the passport. Will that be a problem? Thx!
  3. My husband and I are going on Navigator May 13th - 17th. We currently have a credit card to settle our onboard account, but we do want to bring cash for the ports. We already paid for the drink packages and for the excursions. How much cash would you bring for shopping?
  4. We are on the Allure of the Seas Eastern Caribbean cruise in September and the Cruise planner is full of excursions. But we would like to just do a little local sightseeing and shopping and beach fun on our own in the ports St. Maarten, San Juan? Do we really need to book Excursions? Labadee is of course a Royal Caribbean property so I am not too worried about that and will just enjoy the beaches. Looking forward to some advice from the experts. Thanks so much.
  5. Been looking for fun Cruise to book for next year at the end of March, or first thing in April. Was wondering if anyone else has a March 31st or April 1st Sail Date for 2018 yet? We have been disappointed to find so many of the cruises have 3 days listed as "AT SEA." Would rather have an extra Port in there, than have more than two days at Sea. Any good suggestions? Have specific dates we have to sail out. 03/31/18 or 04/01/18. Thanks for any suggestions from all you savy cruisers out there!!!
  6. For me I think it has to be Southampton for three reasons. First is and a huge bonus for me is that I can take as much luggage as I want because I don't have to go to an airport. Next is parking , i find it reasonably priced and the car parks are very close to the ships. Finally I love the view as you leave the motorway and approach the docks. You go over two flyovers and as you are high up you can see all the ships lined up it's awesome.
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