Jump to content

Recommended Posts

UPDATED 28 December 2022 (Added info on MSC's potential 4th cruise terminal, deleted Southwest Airlines as a recommended option)

Construction of Royal Caribbean's new Cruise Terminal is complete! The first ship call at Terminal 10 was Allure of the Seas on 9 Nov 2022 with a Media and Travel Partner Cruise.

Galveston is the fourth busiest cruise port in the USA and the 10th busiest in the world.

Cruise ships calling Galveston their home port include:

  • Allure of the Seas - 225,282 GT - 5,484 Passengers - 7 night sailings (Repositions to Port Canaveral 27 Oct 2023)
  • Harmony of the Seas - 225,282 GT - 5,484 Passengers - 7 night sailings (Arrives 1 Nov 2023 from Miami)
  • Adventure of the Seas - 137,276 GT - 3,114 Passengers - 4-5 night sailings
  • Radiance of the Seas - 90,090 GT - 2,143 Passengers - 6-10 night sailings plus a 15-night Panama Canal crossing  (Arrives 30 Jan 2023 from New Orleans. Repositions to Los Angeles 21 Apr 2023) 
  • Voyager of the Seas - 137,276 GT - 3,602 Passengers - 4-6 night sailings (Arrives 9 May 2023 from San Juan)
  • Carnival Vista - 133,500 GT - 3,934 Passengers
  • Carnival Dream - 130,000 GT - 3,646 Passengers
  • Carnival Breeze - 130,000 GT - 3,690 Passengers
  • Carnival Jubilee - 182,800 GT - 5,374 Passengers - LNG Powered (Arrives 17 Nov 2023 from Southampton)
  • Ruby Princess - 114,561 GT - 3,080 Passengers (Through Apr 2023. Returns Oct 2023 to Apr 2024.)
  • Norwegian Prima - 142,500 GT - 3,215 Passengers (Home ports in Galveston 15 Dec 2023)
  • Disney Wonder - Nov/Dec/Jan holiday sailings each year
  • MSC - has signed a memorandum of agreement with the Port of Galveston to build a fourth cruise terminal!

New Cruise Terminal Information

Officially named "Cruise Terminal 10", the building is owned and operated by a 50/50 partnership of Royal Caribbean and Ceres Terminals Inc. on land leased from the Port of Galveston. Ceres helped fund the project and will provide stevedoring and terminal operations. The facility is designed to handle Oasis and Icon Class ships, Royal Caribbean's largest cruise ships. As the world's first zero-energy cruise terminal you can expect to find innovative design throughout this facility in things you see and also things you don't see.

Below is a map of the new terminal area and parking lots operated by the Port of Galveston. All of these lots are surface parking lots. Go to the Port's parking information page for more information and sign up for their loyalty program.  You'll get an immediate $5 discount on your first reservation, the loyalty program equals a 10% discount on future parking, and they will send periodic discount codes that can all be combined for savings. Disabled veterans also get a discount. Tip: you will find much less expensive options by using off-site parking operators which I have listed below in the Parking section of this post. My favorite parking option: North Premium Covered Lot - it's only a few feet from the cruise terminal and it's covered. It's also the highest price option.

image.thumb.png.ffaa7bcb752c840036e4f141808c1955.png

Lyft and Uber are the approved major rideshare companies operating at the Port of Galveston. Although they previously refused to sign an agreement with the Port, Uber has now woke to the fact that they need to play ball with the Port of Galveston.

If you are driving to the ship, the Port is partnering with Waze to provide real time traffic information for the best route to the terminal based on road congestion, train crossings, etc. Just use Waze and one of the parking lot addresses shown on the above map. All parking lots have covered shuttle bus stops with buses circulating continuously to the cruise terminal, and there are plenty of covered walkways for a comfortable stroll from the parking areas to the terminal. Electric Vehicle chargers will soon be available in the North Premium Lot (covered).  Please see below for parking lots operated by private businesses and other considerations related to parking.

Luggage can be dropped off at the terminal on Royal Caribbean Circle. Upon entering the terminal building, General check in is located up the escalators on the left (west) end of the terminal, while Suites and Pinnacles check in is located up the escalators on the right (east) end of the terminal. The right (east) end of the terminal on Royal Caribbean Circle is also the entrance for Suites, Pinnacles, and Star Class guests, with Star Class drop-off at area 6 (purple columns).

When disembarking at Cruise Terminal 10 there is facial recognition for quick passage through Customs and Border Protection. Then you claim your luggage and make your way out of the terminal to the pick up area on Royal Caribbean Way.  As you can see on the above map, the embarking passenger ground transportation area (on Royal Caribbean Circle) is distinctly separated from the disembarking passenger ground transportation area on Royal Caribbean Way for better traffic flow.

Planning & Tourist Info

You can't beat this website for information on everything that is happening in Galveston: www.galveston.com

Transportation

Fly into HOU (Houston Hobby Airport) if you can. It's much closer to Galveston than IAH (Bush Intercontinental Airport) and you won't have the Houston traffic to deal with. Tip: my favorite airline option is JSX, a semi-private airline that uses private jet terminals at a few airports across the country. You can essentially fly "private" and avoid crowded airport terminals, for about the price of a first class ticket. JSX flies to Houston Hobby Airport.

Here are some options for getting to Galveston from the airport:

  • Galveston Saltwater Moms - a highly rated "personal driver" service. You book by sending them a personal message on Facebook. They are a licensed Transportation Provider with the Port of Galveston, which means they can legally operate at the cruise terminals. They have a $500,000 bond and commercial insurance through Progressive. Give them a try as an alternative to the big guys. 
  • Galveston Limo - provides very affordable shared rides from the two Houston airports with either their scheduled service (8 trips per day) or you can arrange a private car. Owned by a local family of good folks.
  • Galveston Express 
  • Lyft and Uber - Lyft and Uber now operate in Galveston.  Lyft has a contract with the Port of Galveston to bring passengers to and from the cruise terminals.  Uber has chosen not to sign a contract with the Port, but can still operate in other areas of Galveston.
  • Blacklane - a premium option for upper end vehicles like Black Sedan or Black SUV. You can reserve days or weeks in advance and cancel up to 1 hour prior to pickup time. Rates include gratuities, professional drivers, no "peak" surcharges or port surcharges. Drivers show up when scheduled. A bit more expensive but worth the price to reduce to stress you have with Uber/Lyft drivers canceling or having peak rates when departing the ship. I've used them in Galveston and Los Angeles with good results.
  • Enterprise Rent A Car - Enterprise is the only rental car company on the island. You should be able to rent from Enterprise at the airport and drop it off on the Island. The Island location is open on Saturday (before Covid it was also open on Sunday). Check with Enterprise directly for updated hours and shuttle arrangements.

Arriving By Car

I-45 is undergoing several phases of construction that will continue through 2023 and beyond. TxDOT is widening I-45 all the way to Galveston Island so expect some delays and congestion.

I-45 south ends on Galveston Island. When arriving on the island, if you turn off at the "Cruise Terminal" exit (Harborside Drive) you will hit a traffic back-up as you approach the cruise terminals. To avoid this traffic jam, as you drive down I-45 and arrive on the Island, continue straight on Broadway as the interstate ends and follow these directions:

If you've reserved parking through the official Port of Galveston website, continue straight on Broadway as the interstate ends. Continue to 14th street and turn left. Follow 14th and it will dead end at the entrance to the new Cruise Terminal 10 area. This route will avoid the lengthy backup on Harborside Drive. As you enter the Cruise Terminal area, follow the signs to your pre-arranged parking lot or to the drop off or pick up areas. 

Parking

If you search "Galveston cruise parking" you will see plenty of parking options. I highly recommend making a reservation on line with one of the parking companies, especially if you want an indoor space as these will sell out (especially now, with so many ships sailing from Galveston). Prepaying usually gets you a 5-10% discount and a guaranteed parking space. Things to consider in addition to price:

  • Elevation - heavy rains can quickly flood the streets of Galveston, and not just during a hurricane. Leaving your car in an elevated spot will provide peace of mind against flooding if an unexpected storm comes in.
  • Inside Building, or Outdoor Lot? - outdoor surface lots are cheaper, but your car is exposed to the south Texas sun and weather. A building provides better protection and security.
  • Discounts & Loyalty - there are extra savings if you sign up for loyalty programs online and apply for any applicable discount. Reserve your parking after your account is set up and tagged with the applicable discount. You can combine loyalty and one discount but you can't have multiple discounts. The loyalty programs often mail discount codes to members.
  • Security - parking lots are fenced and gated. Buildings are enclosed and locked. Some facilities have security cameras. The Port of Galveston claims that the Port Police patrol their lots 24/7 which you won't find at the private parking lots.
  • Electric Vehicle Charging - more and more lots are offering EV chargers. If you drive an EV like I do, you will appreciate having your car fully charged when you disembark. This perk is currently free at all parking facilities where it is offered. The Port of Galveston will offer EV charging for an additional fee by scanning a QR code and paying online after parking at the charger. Remember that even a 110 volt plug will fully charge your car over the course of several days.

Here is my comparison of some of the parking options. I have used Port Parking, EZ Cruise, and the Port of Galveston parking all without any issues.

Parking.thumb.jpg.8011091c6d6ce957d3645944c5fbdffa.jpg

Hotels

Galveston hotel prices are quite variable depending on day of week (weekends obviously much higher), whether there are major events happening, and the season (summer is the busy season here). Booking hotels during Mardi Gras (February), Lone Star Biker Rally (early November), Art Walk (every 6 weeks) and other major events will be much more expensive. Some hotels have a 2 night minimum on weekends. Ever since travel resumed following Covid, hotel prices on Galveston Island have gone way up.  I love staying on the island before a cruise, but if the price is too high I stay along I-45 in Webster, League City, or Texas City where you'll find much lower hotel rates.

There are a couple of hotels near the port and the historic Strand District in Galveston. It's a great idea to arrive a day or two early and enjoy the island ambiance.

  • The Harbor House is very convenient to the ship and to many nice restaurants, museums, and shopping. Caution: Our room had a smell of mildew when we stayed here in May 2021,  but others have reported no such issue. 
  • The Tremont House is also very walkable to the Strand, the Port and nice restaurants, museums, and shopping. This is my preferred pre-cruise hotel and will become a Marriott property in late 2022! The Tremont House is located in a beautiful historic building. The Tremont's rooftop bar has wonderful views of the island and port area. The lobby bar has live jazz on most Friday and Saturday nights. 
  • There are plenty of other hotels on the Island, many along the Seawall facing the Gulf of Mexico.  Hotels providing transportation to the port or offer park & cruise options can be found here.  Call the hotel that you are interested in to confirm that they provide cruise parking.

Galveston Dining (And A Few Drinking Establishments)

Please avoid the tourist traps and chain restaurants that will leave you disappointed. Eat at these locally owned restaurants that use locally sourced, fresh food, including fresh Gulf seafood right from the docks in Galveston. All restaurants are casual dress unless noted, and all are family friendly (even most of the bars). Many serve craft beer on tap from Galveston Island Brewing. My only connection to these places is that I have personally eaten at them multiple times and I love them all!

Rudy and Paco - 2028 Post Office St (21st and Post Office) - Arguably the best restaurant on the island. Wonderful food with a South and Central American flair. Best service on the island. A little expensive but worth it. We like going for lunch because it's very affordable (lunch served weekdays only). No shorts allowed at dinner. Reservations suggested and are a must on weekends or when The 1890 Grand Theater has an event.

Riondo's Ristorante - 2328 Strand (24th and Strand) - Our favorite Italian restaurant on the island, and they also serve great seafood and steak. Beautiful historic building built in 1895 in the Strand Historic District. "Farm to Fork" sourcing and they make their own pasta.  Tell them you "want a table in the vault."

Katie's Seafood House - 2000 Wharf Road (On the water, adjacent to the Port of Galveston) - This is the only restaurant in Galveston that catches their own seafood! Enjoy great food, good service, and a wonderful view of the Port of Galveston from their covered outdoor deck. They offer free parking in the lot in front of the restaurant at 20th & Harborside (call the restaurant at (409) 765-5688 and select to option to hear the parking code).

Cafe at the Tremont House - 2300 Ships Mechanic Row (Mechanic Street) - Beautiful historic hotel built in 1879 near the Strand Historic District. Enter the main entrance, up a few stairs, and the cafe is just off the lobby to the right. Nice salads, flatbread pizzas, Panini served in a casual atmosphere. Most weekend evenings there is live jazz in the lobby, which is why we go here (in addition to the good food and casual, historic atmosphere). There is a beautiful bar at the opposite end of the lobby with several Galveston Brewing options on tap. Before or after dinner, take the elevator to the top floor, turn left, and walk to the end of the hall to the rooftop bar to cap off the experience.

Eatcetera - 408 25th Street - Lunch only (until 4 pm, closed Sunday). Gourmet sandwiches, salads, soups, Panini. Vegan and gluten free options available.

Brews Brothers Brew Pub - 2404 Strand - Huge craft beer selection, creative American bar food. Very casual. You wouldn't expect it for a bar, but the food here is excellent. Burgers (try the "Mission From God"), fresh made chips (try them with Buffalo Sauce & Bleu Cheese), local fish tacos, salads, etc. Order at the bar, grab a table, and enjoy a beer while waiting on your food to be delivered to your table.

Texas Tail Distillery - New larger location at 2416 Post Office - On-site distillery for whiskey and vodka. Try the honey whiskey and other infusions.  Friendly staff, fun place to try crafted drinks with local liquor, or try them all with a flight of shots! New: several food trucks are often located adjacent to their new location!

Blvd. Seafood - 28th and Seawall - One of the best seafood restaurants on the island. There isn't a lot of curb appeal outside but the inside is very nice. The food and service are both quite good and the seafood is all local. The red snapper is amazing and always comes fresh from Katie's Seafood Market.

Shucks Tavern - 414 21st Street - Newer hot spot downtown for oysters, seafood, and drinks. Fresh oysters from the most famous oyster beds in America!

Mama Teresa's Flying Pizza and Italian - 416 21st Street - Next door to Shucks Tavern, this is the place for pizza. These guys hand toss the pizzas so high they almost touch the very high ceilings in this historic building! They also have nice Italian dishes. Convenient to the Post Office Street Arts District for a nice after-dinner stroll.

Grotto Italian - 5222 Seawall (In the San Luis Resort) - Classic Italian restaurant featuring delicious veal, chicken, seafood, pizza, and house made pastas. This one breaks my rule of avoiding the Landrys restaurant chain, but we are convinced it's a great option.

Blake's Bistro - 5222 Seawall (In the San Luis Resort) - Great burgers, gumbo, seafood.  Overlooks the resort pool and the Gulf of Mexico.  This one breaks my rule of avoiding the Landrys restaurant chain, but we have had consistently good experiences and added it to the list.

The Cove Poolside Bar - 5222 Seawall (In the San Luis Resort) - Beautiful outdoor poolside bar with a swim-up bar too, all overlooking the Gulf of Mexico.  The pool is heated so expect swimmers even in cool weather.  Great place to people watch and enjoy a drink with one of the most picturesque views of the Gulf of Mexico on the island.

Koops BBQ Kitchen - 4501 Broadway - the only barbecue restaurant on the island that I would recommend.  Very clean, very casual, very good meat and homemade sides. Only open for lunch from 11 am to 3 pm.

Gypsy Joynt - 6105 Stewart Road - Funky family-run spot with great comfort food.  Excellent pizza, burgers, sandwiches, salads, etc. Breads/buns baked fresh multiple times per day.  Casual, funky atmosphere. A little off the beaten path in a strip shopping center but definitely one of my favorite casual places for lunch or dinner.

Maceo's Spice & Import Company - 2706 Market Street - Excellent muffaletta's, sandwiches.  Simple menu to eat in or carry out in this little spice shop.

Hey Mikey's Ice Cream - 2120 Post Office Street - Ice cream is made in the store. Unique treats like Ice Cream Nachos (share with a friend) and traditional favorites. You gotta' go here! Note: this place is owned by a nice island family.  It is sometimes closed over the winter holidays.

Mod Coffeehouse - 2126 Post Office Street - comfortable with plenty of indoor and outdoor seating. Live music many weekend evenings. Coffee, tea, espresso, latte, home baked goods.

Red Light Coffee Roasters - 2728 Market Street - popular spot serving locally roasted and sustainably sourced coffee and drinks along with light snacks. Like many places on this list, they are located in a beautiful historic building.

Freckleberry Teahouse - 2724 Market Street - next door to Red Light Coffee Roasters, this has become a hot spot for a relaxing hot or iced tea or coffee and a light snack. Comfortable seating is plentiful inside or in their large outdoor area.

Jimmy's On The Pier - 9001 Seawall - On the 2nd story above the fishing pier (enter the souvenir shop, exit to the left, and up the stairs). Very casual with great views of the seawall and Gulf. Owner has their own farm and livestock for a true "farm to table" concept; other items locally sourced. Fish tacos, burgers, seafood, local beer, full bar, etc. 
 

Bringing Back Liquor & Cigarettes

If you sail from the Port of Galveston, the Texas Alcoholic Beverage Commission (TABC) may have agents sitting at a table after you clear Immigration. NOTE: there were no TABC agents present after the first few cruises, but this could change. The agents, if they are present, will ask you if you are bringing back any alcohol or cigarettes. If so, you will need to pay the state tax for importing them into the state, whether they are purchased in the ship's duty free store or in a foreign port of call. Although Texas state tax is due, these items are still exempt of any Federal duty.

The law limits personal importation by an adult to once every 30 days with limits of 1 gallon of distilled spirits, 3 gallons of wine, and 288 ounces of malt beverages (24 12-ounce containers).

Tax due for a 750ml bottle of wine is $3.25, for a 750ml bottle of distilled spirits is $3.50. These rates include a $3.00 "administrative fee".

Cigarette tax is $1.50/pack or $15.00/carton. Other tax rates are available online.

You can pay with a credit card (Visa or MasterCard) or cash. They will give you a receipt, but no longer provide a sticker to place on the bottle. Failure to pay the tax will subject violators to a fine ranging from $100 to $1,000 and/or a jail term of up to one year.

Galveston Webcams

Galveston has some great webcams if you want to see what the cruise port looks like, or if your friends and family want to watch you sail away on Royal Caribbean via several live full-motion HD video cameras.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Awesome post! We are sailing in October so I have plenty of time to figure out how to best suit our travel needs. But thanks to this site I have been able to get so much advice. We are now going to fly in on Saturday and travel to Galveston (I am going check uber out). Most likely we will fly Southwest out of Atlanta. I am still trying to decide where to stay, but I would definitely like to get to the port early so we can get on board and explore the ship. Thanks again Steve

Link to comment
Share on other sites

...I am still trying to decide where to stay, but I would definitely like to get to the port early so we can get on board and explore the ship. Thanks again Steve

You might want to give the Days Inn a call. Their website shows the rate being about $85 for your weekend. The website says they have transportation to the cruise terminal but there may be an extra charge for the shuttle. Let us know how it works out!

Link to comment
Share on other sites

RCCL is also planning a new terminal in Galveston  next to the one there.  The old terminal will be for luggage and the new one will be two story for passengers.  It is to accommodate the larger ship, Liberty of the Seas, when it arrives on 11/13/15.  The project is on hold for now, but hopefully will be completed in time.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

You might want to give the Days Inn a call. Their website shows the rate being about $85 for your weekend. The website says they have transportation to the cruise terminal but there may be an extra charge for the shuttle. Let us know how it works out!

 

Just checked online and they do have park and cruise and cruise port transportation, though the pricing on those rates are not listed. So, I called to find out but no one answered. Must be a busy night in Galveston :-) Any I will try them back later.

Has anyone ever tried the Priceline name your own price negotiator?

Link to comment
Share on other sites

RCCL is also planning a new terminal in Galveston  next to the one there.  The old terminal will be for luggage and the new one will be two story for passengers.  It is to accommodate the larger ship, Liberty of the Seas, when it arrives on 11/12/15.  The project is on hold for now, but hopefully will be completed in time.

 

Maybe it will be ready when we sail 10/18/15!

Link to comment
Share on other sites

RCCL is also planning a new terminal in Galveston next to the one there. The old terminal will be for luggage and the new one will be two story for passengers. It is to accommodate the larger ship, Liberty of the Seas, when it arrives on 11/12/15. The project is on hold for now, but hopefully will be completed in time.

Good point. Part of the deal with Royal Caribbean and Carnival was for the Port to expand Terminal 2 as a condition of bringing the larger Liberty of the Seas to Galveston in November and to accomodate the extra Carnival ship on Saturdays. The Port of Galveston awarded an $11 million contract in September to do just that. I would be interested in your source for the project being on hold because that would seem to violate the deal with RCCL. I assumed we haven't seen any construction because it takes time to do the design and procurement before you actually see something happen on the ground.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

...Has anyone ever tried the Priceline name your own price negotiator?

I have scored a couple of good deals with Priceline (once in swanky Sarasota, Florida and another time on a snowy evening in Little Rock, Arkansas). Both times I found the best deals by using Priceline the afternoon or evening of my arrival day. I guess they figure if they haven't sold the room by that time they can at least rent the room at a cheap price and make a sale. You could make a reservation that has a day-of-arrival cancellation policy, then use Priceline to see if you can get a better deal at the last minute. Just make sure you know what your cancellation policy is. Good luck!

Link to comment
Share on other sites

  • 3 months later...

I have not noticed any further construction progress on Galveston's expansion of Cruise Terminal 2, meant to accommodate Liberty of the Seas when she arrives on November 13, 2015. A recent article in the Galveston Daily News reports that unexpected soil conditions have caused a re-design of the foundation for part of the new building, which has slowed the project.

 

The Port Director is quoted as saying the goal is still to have "substantial completion" of the new building in time for the arrival of Liberty of the Seas. The larger Liberty of the Seas will replace Navigator of the Seas as Royal Caribbean's Galveston-based cruise ship. A wharf expansion and mooring upgrades are also part of the project. These upgrades are required under the terms of contracts that the Port of Galveston has signed with Royal Caribbean and Carnival Cruise Lines.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Is Liberty really that much bigger than Navigator ? I know they are different designs but I thought they were essentially the same chassis...or very close.

I'm no engineer and I have no insight into the construction situation (and I'm only a small town pizza lawyer), BUT I'd like to think a Freedom class ship can go to the old port considering Voyager was handled.  As you point out, Freedom is essentially a longer Voyager class ship.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I think Matt is right... he IS a small town pizza lawyer (as I am)... he's also probably right that the port could physically handle the larger ship. Liberty is only 92 feet longer so they could probably work around that for a while if necessary. I believe the issue is passenger count. Liberty carries 410 more passengers than Navigator on a double occupancy basis (3,686 vs. 3,276). That means the passenger terminal, baggage handling, customs & immigration must all handle 12.5% more capacity with Liberty. If you read my original post above and posts from some other Galveston passengers you see that Galveston's Terminal 2 is already stretched to capacity. If Liberty arrives and must use the current passenger terminal, embarkation and disembarkation days will be even more challenged.

 

My wife and I (along with at least one other contributor on this message board) are booked on the first Liberty sailing out of Galveston in November. I sure hope they get back on track!

 

Will RCL pull out of Galveston if the terminal isn't finished? I don't know what the contract says, but at this point they have a lot of passengers booked out of Galveston, so it would cause some financial hardship to pull out on such short notice. Galveston is busting at the seams and 5 cruise ships will be sailing from here by late this year. They are studying ways to build a third terminal and that can't come too soon in my opinion.

Edited by Steve
Link to comment
Share on other sites

I suppose you're all correct given that the Liberty is only 10-12% larger overall.  I believe Matt has even said that the Freedom class is really just a larger version of the Voyager class.  However, given some of the complaints I've read about embarkation/disembarkation, I thought maybe the terminal was already maxed out with the Navigator and thus was at capacity.  Perhaps I assumed the size difference was larger than it actually is since I haven't been on either class yet (but soon).

 

Thanks for the replies.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

  • 1 month later...

I have not noticed any further construction progress on Galveston's expansion of Cruise Terminal 2, meant to accommodate Liberty of the Seas when she arrives on November 13, 2015. A recent article in the Galveston Daily News reports that unexpected soil conditions have caused a re-design of the foundation for part of the new building, which has slowed the project.

 

The Port Director is quoted as saying the goal is still to have "substantial completion" of the new building in time for the arrival of Liberty of the Seas. The larger Liberty of the Seas will replace Navigator of the Seas as Royal Caribbean's Galveston-based cruise ship. A wharf expansion and mooring upgrades are also part of the project. These upgrades are required under the terms of contracts that the Port of Galveston has signed with Royal Caribbean and Carnival Cruise Lines.

In driving by the Galveston Cruise Terminals this week, I can report that construction on the Terminal 2 Expansion has resumed!  I drove past at 6:30 am a couple days and the construction crews were already on site and working.  At 5:30 pm today they were still busy working.  That would indicate overtime has been authorized to push for completion before Liberty of the Seas arrives on November 13th.

 

The activity so far appears to be earthwork/excavation and preparing for foundation construction.  There are two large backhoes and several other pieces of rental equipment on site along with the construction crews.  Once there is something to see, like steel and concrete, I will try to get close enough to take a few pictures, although Homeland Security tends to frown on that kind of activity.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

My 2 cents on sailing out of Galveston, as I am an expert. (I sailed out of there last year lol). I sail during Labor Day week. That means my sailing day is during the holiday weekend. That being the case, when I researched places to stay the night before, I got quite the sticker shock. Prices in the $250-500 range were not unusual. For those locals driving down, there is a beautiful new Holiday Inn Express on I-45 in the town of Texas City. Countless restaurants nearby and less than 1/2 hour to the ship for Sunday morning. The room was $105.

 

As far as the embarkation issues,, I suppose for those flying in and getting to the ship within a couple hours of sailing, it may be (probably is) a nightmare. But I got there at 8:30. Ok, ok, I was a little anxious. The porter looked at me like I had 2 heads and said "sir, give us until 10:00 ok ?" There's a really convenient Starbucks just across the street, so after a coffee break we went back and were on board within a very short time. So I guess the bottom line for me regarding ease of embarkation is to get there as early as possible. Oftentimes we create our own chaos that can easily be avoided. Can't wait til September !!!

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Galveston needs either some new off-site parking parking options to open up or rental car facilities to start working on cruise departure day.  Once you start to get some competition going, prices will come down.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Galveston needs either some new off-site parking parking options to open up or rental car facilities to start working on cruise departure day. Once you start to get some competition going, prices will come down.

I agree Matt. The "official" port parking used to have plenty of open spaces, but with four ships here now they are almost full. Some hotels on the Island offer packages that include cruise parking and a shuttle to the port.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

NickyNewark, great suggestions! Yes, holidays and special events drive up hotel prices on the Island. There are some nice museums, restaurants, shops, bars, juice bars, historic homes, within an easy walk of the cruise port which does make Galveston a great place to arrive a day or two early if you can. For cheap hotels, that's a good suggeston for staying in Texas City. And hey, why not get on the ship as early as possible and start enjoying your cruise!!!

Link to comment
Share on other sites

  • 2 weeks later...

i usually do Hotwire to see if I can find a deal on hotels on the island. Friends of mine have stayed in Clear Lake / Kemah location which is about 30mins from the island and have gotten good deals. I drive downthe day before and stay the night just to be on the safe side since never know what road closure you will run into in Houston. I do the official port parking and have never ran into any issues.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

The Liberty is between 90' to 95' longer than the Navigator.  It will be able to make the 180 degree turn.  The problem is the terminal size.  The current terminal has a hard time handling the passengers that get off/on the Navigator so with the additional passengers on Liberty it will be a challenge.  Hopefully the new terminal will be complete by 11/13/15 when the Liberty comes to town or shortly after that or by the end of the dry dock.. 

Link to comment
Share on other sites

It looks like the Port of Galveston is going to be some six months late in completing the expansion of Cruise Terminal 2. The port has a contractual date of September 30, 2015 to complete the expansion for Royal Caribbean, but won't complete the project until March, 2016. The expansion is needed to accommodate the arrival of the larger Liberty of the Seas, which arrives here November 13. According to the Galveston Daily News, Royal Caribbean is "disappointed" and has demanded that temporary measures be taken to relieve terminal congestion. The port is investigating the purchase or rental of a 10,000 square foot air conditioned tent.

 

The delay was apparently caused by unexpected soil conditions which forced the design/construct contractor to go back to the drawing board with their foundation design.

 

The 90,000 square foot existing terminal would be expanded by an additional 60,000 square feet. The expansion includes seating for 2,000 more passengers, expanded passenger screening, baggage handling, and customs enforcement. The expansion of customs enforcement capacity is a much needed improvement in my eyes.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

It is not Carnival that is being pulled out.  It is Princess (which is under the Carnival Umbrella) and NCL.  They will be there for the Spring and then that is it.  To long a distance to come from Houston Ship Channel to the Gulf.  You probably new not Carnival, but just typed what you were thinking.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

It is not Carnival that is being pulled out.  It is Princess (which is under the Carnival Umbrella) and NCL.  They will be there for the Spring and then that is it.  To long a distance to come from Houston Ship Channel to the Gulf.  You probably new not Carnival, but just typed what you were thinking.

 

Thanks for the clarification… Carnival has 3 ships in Galveston but I didn't remember any in Houston.  The Houston port has a nice facility but there is nothing there to attract people to come a day or two early since it's part of an industrial port area.  Galveston has a lot of tourist activity that makes it a natural place to arrive early and enjoy the island a little.

 

Galveston has been studying how it can add a third cruise terminal.  It sounds like they need to hurry up.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

  • 3 weeks later...

Terminal Expansion Update... the Port of Galveston has authorized an additional $1.3 million to procure a large tent, portable restrooms, and other improvements to get Terminal 2 ready for the November arrival of Liberty of the Seas. This additional investment is in response to the delay in completion of the terminal building expansion (see the earlier post above). The other improvements include improved security screening and baggage handling areas as well as the U.S. Customs and Border Protection screening facilities. This is good news and should help make the embarkation and disembarkation experience much better leading up to the terminal expansion completion early next year.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Mooring Improvements Update... the Texas Navy warship Zavala is believed to be the first steam powered warship in the western hemisphere. Built in 1836, she played a role in preventing Mexico's General Santa Anna from receiving supplies after his bloody slaughter of Texans at the Alamo. By preventing supplies from reaching the Mexican army, the Zavala helped Sam Houston defeat Santa Anna at the Battle of San Jacinto, avenging the Alamo slaughter and securing Texas' independence from Mexico. The Zavala later ran aground in 1842 in the Port of Galveston near the current Cruise Terminal. Installation of mooring bollards will be delayed until the Port can hire archaeologists to investigate the site and determine if remnants of the ship exist at the site of the new mooring bollards. This is a requirement before the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers will issue a permit to construct the new facilities. Galveston is rich in history, but this was not expected.

 

The new moorings are required to satisfy RCCL's requirement that the dock accommodate 41 knots of off-the-dock wind for the larger Liberty of the Seas. This situation would typically only occur during a hurricane, but since hurricane season is essentially over before Liberty arrives in November, the Port says this will not be an issue. I'm not sure RCCL would agree. We will see.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Steve really has put together a super great post here, and it is very helpful to all.

 

I'm going to give the 20 second version.  We drove to Galveston and drove right into the port mayhem.  Arriving around 11:00 a.m., we found the traffic to be in total gridlock.  We couldn't move an inch.  Signs that said "drop off your luggage first and then park" just confused us.  Who would take our luggage?  Would we be leaving it on the curb?  Should one of us stay with it?  How and where would we park afterwards - swimming upstream against this massive crush of cars?  Finally, in desperation, we swerved off down a side street and eventually into one of the private parking lots several block away.  It was almost full.   They took our money and we boarded a bus with our luggage in tow.  They dropped us off at the port.

 

IMO, RCI needs to include explicit parking and luggage drop off instructions along with the (otherwise great) pre-boarding info they send to everyone.  They do a bang-up job with ship and excursion organization - so the lack of port organization is a wonder.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

cruise-y, you have some really good points, and I will update my original post with some suggestions... My recommendation is to pre-reserve your parking at one of the private lots in Galveston (see my original post above). When arriving on the island, if you turn off at the "Cruise Terminal" exit (Harborside Drive) you will hit the back-up that you refer to. Instead, continue straight on Broadway as the interstate ends, and then turn left on whichever street will get you directly to your pre-reserved parking space (26th, 27th, 28th, or 29th Streets). Note: you can not turn left on 25th Street. Then take the parking lot shuttle, with your luggage, to the cruise terminal.

 

If you want to drop your luggage at the terminal first, or if your parking company says to drop your luggage at the terminal first, then continue on Broadway to 22nd street and turn left. Follow 22nd and it will dead end at the entrance to the cruise terminal. This route will normally avoid the lengthy backup on Harborside Drive that you likely experienced.

 

For people flying in a day or two early, staying at the Tremont House Hotel or Harbor House Hotel allows you to walk with your luggage directly to the cruise terminal on departure day... avoiding the traffic altogether.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

  • 1 month later...

Steve,

 

I'm considering reserving parking and Park N Cruise based on reviews; however, I also see a parking structure on Google Maps at the corner of Harborside Dr. and 25th St. that has an elevated pedestrian walkway from the parking structure across to the terminal complex.  Do you happen to know the name of this structure and if it's open yet?  I suppose it could also be an employee lot, but wasn't sure.

 

Thanks!

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Steve,

 

I'm considering reserving parking and Park N Cruise based on reviews; however, I also see a parking structure on Google Maps at the corner of Harborside Dr. and 25th St. that has an elevated pedestrian walkway from the parking structure across to the terminal complex. Do you happen to know the name of this structure and if it's open yet? I suppose it could also be an employee lot, but wasn't sure.

 

Thanks!

Doc, this is a parking garage for day use and does not offer cruise parking (I checked into it on my cruise last year). They have just built a new parking garage adjacent to it but it's not open yet and I don't believe they will offer cruise parking either. The elevated walkway is interesting and was refurbished about a year ago but it doesn't make much sense since it doesn't directly connect to cruise parking. By the way the elevated walkway leads to the terminal used by Carnival. The RCCL terminal is to the west of that.

 

You will be happy with Park N Cruise. I have used them a couple times. Friendly folks, the only indoor option I know of, and the best location to just walk across the street to the ship. Having a prepaid reservation is the way to go.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Terminal Expansion Update... the Port of Galveston has authorized an additional $1.3 million to procure a large tent, portable restrooms, and other improvements to get Terminal 2 ready for the November arrival of Liberty of the Seas. This additional investment is in response to the delay in completion of the terminal building expansion (see the earlier post above). The other improvements include improved security screening and baggage handling areas as well as the U.S. Customs and Border Protection screening facilities. This is good news and should help make the embarkation and disembarkation experience much better leading up to the terminal expansion completion early next year.

 

The large temporary tent is installed at the Port of Galveston and being readied for passengers at Terminal 2. The tent is connected by a connecting tent to the main terminal and is surrounded by a security fence. No word yet when it will open to passengers but it looks certain to be ready for Liberty's arrival on Nov 13.

 

Tent%20Port%20of%20Galveston.jpeg

Edited by Steve
Link to comment
Share on other sites

Join the conversation

You can post now and register later. If you have an account, sign in now to post with your account.

Guest
Reply to this topic...

×   Pasted as rich text.   Paste as plain text instead

  Only 75 emoji are allowed.

×   Your link has been automatically embedded.   Display as a link instead

×   Your previous content has been restored.   Clear editor

×   You cannot paste images directly. Upload or insert images from URL.

Loading...
 Share

×
×
  • Create New...