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This is a really useful thread, and original post, thank you! We're from the UK and normally sail out of Fort Lauderdale when doing Caribbean itineraries, so our Jan 3rd cruise on Liberty will be our first from Galveston. We were worried about customs lines when getting off (had this problem before in LA) so definitely planning to self disembark - can anyone advise the latest we should aim to get off, to guarantee not getting stuck too hideously? Thank you.

 

On a separate note, we have two nights beforehand in Galveston and we're thinking of hiring a car from IAH. It's almost cheaper than a shuttle, even if we leave it at the hotel while on the cruise - and gives us more flexibility beforehand and on the last day! Has anyone done this? We're staying at the Galvez, so a bit further from the port as well, so could be useful there too in terms of getting about.

Welcome to the message boards, and an early welcome to Galveston! When we did the self-assist disembarkation on Liberty in Galveston, they asked you to go to Guest Services on the day before disembarkation day. We told them we wanted to do self-assist and they gave us a choice of a 7:30 am departure or 8:00 am departure. We said 7:30 and they gave us each a card with that time on it. they now just provide self-assist as an option in the departure handout sheet on the last night of the cruise.  No need to sign up, you just go to the specific meeting place noted in the handout.  We went to the departure area at 7:00 or 7:30 am and we were among the first to depart. Obviously the earlier you arrive at the gathering point the better.

 

I think you will enjoy the Galvez. It is a wonderful historic hotel. I have not seen the guest rooms, but five U.S. Presidents have stayed there along with many celebrities who performed in Galveston before Las Vegas became the gambling/entertainment capital and took that title from Galveston. Be sure to check out the mini-museum in the basement. They also have a wonderful spa and amazing views of the Gulf.

 

The Galvez has a courtesy shuttle bus that will take you to their other properties (the historic Tremont House Hotel for example) and to the Strand with its shopping and restaurants.

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UPDATED 23September 2020 Construction of Royal Caribbean's Cruise Terminal 3 is now planned to begin on April 1, 2021, and the Port of Galveston is continuing their ongoing design and constructio

This deserves to be a regular blog post on the homepage.

Some have asked where the new Terminal 3 will be located at the Port of Galveston.  First is a big picture view, followed by a more detailed view.  

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Thanks Steve, all very useful info :-) I know last time we disembarked from a US cruise ship that had been out of the US and back again we had to wait ages to go through customs, so we're trying to avoid that as well. So we're really trying to decide between a) hire car, get off very early and make the most of our last day or b) book shuttle, get off as late as possible (as we don't need to be at IAH until 1pm) and avoid the lines that way!

 

Can anyone give me any info/opinion on Island Breezes shuttles? Someone on another forum recommended them and they are definitely coming in cheaper than everyone else.

 

Thanks for the info on the Galvez, we really were undecided about whether we should be nearer to The Strand, but knowing there is a shuttle helps also!

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Wow!  I'm in awe!

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Can anyone give me any info/opinion on Island Breezes shuttles? Someone on another forum recommended them and they are definitely coming in cheaper than everyone else.

Sorry, but I have not used any of the shuttles. We know the family that owns and operates Galveston Limousine from our church, but have not used any of the Galveston shuttles.

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  • 2 weeks later...

Thanks loads for the addition of the dining recommendations and for letting me know they were there! Have printed these out for review and saved them to my iPhone with links ;-) On a separate note, for anyone who is asking about transfers, we actually ended up hiring a car from IAH, as we have two nights before the cruise and most of a day after. It was only a little more expensive than the transfers - unless we went for pre-set times which wouldn't have worked for us anyway, so it seemed like the best option, to give us maximum flexibility. We're staying at the Galvez, so have parking booked there, and their shuttle will take us to the cruise port and back. So, given we have a car,and will be out and about in the Strand area mostly on the two evenings I imagine, what should we plan to do with our one full day in Galveston, so we see the most of it?! All suggestions welcome - we're more outdoors and photography people than museum people, but other than that, open to any ideas. Thank you :-)

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... So, given we have a car,and will be out and about in the Strand area mostly on the two evenings I imagine, what should we plan to do with our one full day in Galveston, so we see the most of it?! All suggestions welcome - we're more outdoors and photography people than museum people, but other than that, open to any ideas. Thank you :-)

Depending on what you like to do outdoors, we can provide some suggestions. If any of these sound interesting we can provide some website links and other info. So the question is, what do you like to do outdoors and which of these might sound interesting?

 

1. Galveston Bay is an important bird estuary and many people come here to bird watch and to photograph birds and the coastal landscape.

2. There is a free vehicle ferry from Galveston Island to Bolivar peninsula. Take your car, enjoy seeing dolphins and the ship traffic on the Houston Ship Channel. Drive the Bolivar Peninsula, a much less populated area with nice coastal scenery.

3. Take an air boat ride and explore the backwaters of Galveston Bay, look for alligators and other wildlife.

4. Take a kayak tour.

5. Take a Harbor Boat Tour and see the sunken ship, dolphins, and the working Port of Galveston.

6. Galveston contains one of the largest and historically significant collections of 19th-century buildings in the United States. Explore the many examples of Victorian Architecture and photograph the Strand area, residential areas, Bishop's Palace, the Bryan Museum.

7. Galveston Island State Park offers hiking trails for seeing birds, wildlife, and nice scenery. They also have an evening "Heavenly Night Walk", a guided walk to learn about the stars from the park ranger (January 1)

8. Deep Sea fishing charter boats

9. Segway tour of Galveston

10. Find the tree sculptures of trees that were destroyed during Hurricane Ike and the remains were carved into beautiful figures

11. Take a ride on a helicopter and see the island from the air

12. Take a flight on a World War II vintage airplane and see Galveston from the air

13. The Railroad museum is obviously a museum, but may be good for photos of vintage rail cars

14. See the fully restored 1877 Tall Ship Elissa (very photogenic)

15. Arrange horseback riding on the beach

16. Walk the Seawall or East Beach and photograph the seawall, the Hotel Galvez, and other beach scenery

17. There are several tour operators, such as a duck boat tour, bus tours, etc.

18. Walk through some of the old cemeteries

19. 5K/10K Run/Walk takes place the morning of January 2 at Galveston Island State Park

20. Rent bicycles and ride along the beach and seawall

21. Spend the afternoon at the Historic Pleasure Pier, a nice amusement park built on a pier over the Gulf of Mexico (great if you have kids or just like to ride amusement rides)

 

Note: the weather here in January can be beautiful, but it can also be cool and possibly rainy. You probably should have an indoor backup plan in case the weather does not cooperate.

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  • 6 months later...

VALET PARKING -- The Port of Galveston now offers valet parking to passengers who are sailing on a 7 day cruise. Valet drop off begins at 9:00AM. Cost is $20.00 a day plus tax. All major credit cards accepted. NO CASH. On line Pre-Pay for valet parking is available.

http://www.portofgalveston.com/91/Cruise-Parking

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Hi -  great info - thank you !!  I just started a thread to see if a 10:15 am flight time out of Hobby was doable after debarking -  looks like it is -  which makes me very happy :)

10:15 seems tight but if you do self-service disembarkation you can be off the ship and in a taxi by 8:00, up to Hobby by 9:00, so yes it should work. Good luck!

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Steve thanks for this thread and also for telling me on your Liberty scope today not to go to Bubba Gump. I am waiting to hear back from the others that signed up for the pre cruise dinner about my wanting to change it to the Ocean Grille and Beach Bar. :)

For those that missed the periscope yesterday, my objection to Bubba Gump is the same as my objection to the Landry's Restaurant chain to which it belongs. Those restaurants often have a nice ambiance or theme that draws you in. However, the food and service can be severely lacking.

 

My preference is for highly rated local restaurants where they source fresh, local, seafood and ingredients and provide good service. I have a list of my favorites in the original post in this thread.

 

I'm appreciative of the Landry's corporation for investing in Galveston and reviving the Historic Pleasure Pier area, but I've seen the Sysco institutional food truck make deliveries at Bubba Gump. Even the prestigious Landry's Seafood restaurant on the seawall serves seafood that is shipped in from other states and countries. The good local restaurants source seafood from local fishermen. That makes a big difference to me.

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Hi -  great info - thank you !!  I just started a thread to see if a 10:15 am flight time out of Hobby was doable after debarking -  looks like it is -  which makes me very happy :)

Provided there are no traffic delays on the freeway. Provided your cruise is not delayed for any reason. I would say no to this flight time.

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For those that missed the periscope yesterday, my objection to Bubba Gump is the same as my objection to the Landry's Restaurant chain to which it belongs. Those restaurants often have a nice ambiance or theme that draws you in. However, the food and service can be severely lacking.

My preference is for highly rated local restaurants where they source fresh, local, seafood and ingredients and provide good service. I have a list of my favorites in the original post in this thread.

I'm appreciative of the Landry's corporation for investing in Galveston and reviving the Historic Pleasure Pier area, but I've seen the Sysco institutional food truck make deliveries at Bubba Gump. Even the prestigious Landry's Seafood restaurant on the seawall serves seafood that is shipped in from other states and countries. The good local restaurants source seafood from local fishermen. That makes a big difference to me.

I can certainly understand the opposition and glad I took your suggestion. Everyone likes my new choice of Ocean Grille and Beach Bar. I will definitely scope from there that Saturday evening! :)

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Provided there are no traffic delays on the freeway. Provided your cruise is not delayed for any reason. I would say no to this flight time.

 

we just got back home yesterday and the flight time was no problem at all -  so glad we did it -  we did self assist off the boat, we were in line at the designated area at 6:30 am and actually the very first in line - we were off the ship at just after 7:30 am and in our awaiting car at 7:43 am -  we arrived at the airport at 8:27 am and had plenty of time :)  love it when a plan comes together

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we just got back home yesterday and the flight time was no problem at all - so glad we did it - we did self assist off the boat, we were in line at the designated area at 6:30 am and actually the very first in line - we were off the ship at just after 7:30 am and in our awaiting car at 7:43 am - we arrived at the airport at 8:27 am and had plenty of time :) love it when a plan comes together

Nice A-Team reference.

 

We did self-assist in January, but watered wire a bit too get through Customs. I think you best us getting to the car by a good hour.

 

Glad to hear it worked out for you.

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OK, so we are arriving at the Galvez on Christmas Day for a 12/26/16 Liberty of the Seas sailing... Their restaurant will be closed on Christmas Day, so we are planning to dine at The Grotto. We may not have a lot of time after driving all day and we may be exhausted... But are there any "don't miss" suggestions for late on Christmas Day?

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