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Did Royal Caribbean's CEO hint Wonder of the Seas could be deployed to Galveston?

26 Jan 2024

If you read between the lines, it sounds like Royal Caribbean might have plans for an even bigger cruise ship to move to Galveston.


Royal Caribbean first deployed Allure of the Seas to Galveston in November 2022. Shortly thereafter, the second Oasis Class ship was replaced by Harmony of the Seas, and recently, Michael Bayley, Royal Caribbean International's President and CEO, hinted that the former largest cruise ship in the world, Wonder of the Seas, might be next. 

During a Q&A session with travel agents on Icon of the Seas, Bayley was asked if Royal would ever consider deploying an Icon Class ship to Galveston, as they've done "very well" with Allure and Harmony and want to show the company what they could do with an Icon Class vessel. 

To be clear, he did not announce or confirm anything.  However, he did allude to a possible future ship deployment. 

"It wasn't an accident that we built that 100 and whatever it was million dollar terminal in Galveston, Texas, which, by the way, is our highest-rated terminal experience in the world," he said. 

Top of the terminal

"And if you just, you know, if you just think forward a few more years, I WONDER what we're going to do next. I'm not giving away our strategy here because it's pretty simple, but if you can just use your imagination, you know, big things are coming." 

It was clear that when he said "Wonder," he was emphasizing the word to the audience, to which they responded in cheer!

As of now, Harmony of the Seas is available to book from Galveston through March 2026. No other deployments have been announced beyond that date.

Wonder of the Seas is unlike any of the previous five Oasis Class ships

Wonder of the Seas in Labadee

While you'll still find Oasis Class favorites onboard, such as Central Park, the Boardwalk, a Flowrider, AquaTheater, and Riding Tide Bar, the ship is slightly different than her younger sisters. 

Truthfully, she — and Utopia of the Seas — can be thought of as "Oasis Plus" ships. While Wonder shares many of the same bars, restaurants, and entertainment venues as Oasis, Allure, Harmony, and Symphony of the Seas, significant enhancements were made to her design and layout.

First, the cruise line added a brand-new neighborhood, the Suite Neighborhood, which is only accessible to those staying in suites. It's where they will find the Coastal Kitchen restaurant and suite concierge, as well as the Suite Sun Deck that's complete with a private bar, plunge pool with in-pool lounges, and a variety of comfy seating options. 

Suite Sun Deck on Wonder of the Seas

Additionally, whereas on other Oasis Class ships, many Loft Suites face the Sports Court, this isn't the case on Wonder, as this area is occupied by the Suite Sun Deck. Instead, the majority of suites have an ocean view. 

Royal Caribbean also significantly increased the size of the Windjammer Marketplace onboard. It can be found on Deck 15 and is situated around the entire Boardwalk Neighborhood. 

Adults will also appreciate how the Solarium is completely closed and climate-controlled. However, it is important to note that, while most Oasis Class ships have two cantilevered hot tubs near the Solarium, there's only one on Wonder, as the space for the second was used for The Vue Bar. 

Wonder of the Seas pool deck

When it comes to the pool deck, it's much more colorful than those found onboard Allure, Harmony, and Symphony of the Seas. Wonder has a Caribbean-style pool deck, which means that you will find a Lime and Coconut Bar, private casitas, and even a brand-new large television that hangs over the Central Park Neighborhood

At the aft of the ship, guests will notice that there's only one FlowRider. The second one was replaced with the Wonder Playscape area, which is essentially an underwater-themed climbing playground for children. Moreover, the mini-golf course was moved and rethemed. 

Read more: Wonder of the Seas vs other Oasis Class ships

Galveston's brand-new terminal opened in late 2022

New Galveston terminal

Terminal 3 cost Royal Caribbean $125 million and is the cruise line's dedication to the Galveston cruise market. 

In total, the building measures 161,300 and has numerous high-tech features, including mobile check-in and facial recognition to help expedite guest arrival. 

Moreover, it's a LEED-certified terminal (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design), meaning that it is environmentally responsible and uses resources efficiently.

Read more: I cruised Royal Caribbean from Galveston for the first time. Here's what a cruise from Texas is like

While you can cruise from the popular port cities of Miami, Fort Lauderdale, or Tampa, Galveston helps make cruising to those living in Texas, as well as nearby states, more accessible

Galveston terminal drop off

Before this terminal opened, you couldn't find some of the world's largest ships in Texas. Now, however, cruising on Oasis (and, potentially, even Icon) Class ships is easier than ever, especially if you aren't located near Florida. 

There are some limitations. First, newer ships usually are not sent here. Allure, for instance, while a jam-packed Oasis Class ship, isn't brand-new and never underwent any sort of Royal Amplification. 

Harmony of the Seas, which replaced Allure in 2023, is the newest ship to sail from Galveston for Royal Caribbean to date. 

Wonder of the Seas

Second, since Galveston is located on the Gulf of Mexico, you won't find any Eastern Caribbean itineraries. Western Caribbean cruises tend to be more port-intensive, too. 

While Bayley didn't give any specifics regarding when we could see Wonder move to Texas, it's exciting to think one of the largest Oasis Class vessels could call Texas home! 

I cruised Royal Caribbean from Galveston for the first time. Here's what a cruise from Texas is like.

09 Oct 2023

Many people looking to cruise automatically think of embarking and disembarking from Florida, whether it’s Miami, Orlando, or Tampa, to name a few. But did you know you can cruise out of Galveston, Texas?

Galveston, Texas terminal

Located southeast of Houston, Galveston offers Royal Caribbean cruises year-round. Royal Caribbean recently built a new port here in November of 2022, which cost $125 million. This new port allows larger Oasis Class ships to sail out of Galveston. Galveston is a popular cruise port for those living in Texas, as well as nearby states like Oklahoma and Louisiana.

Read more: What you should know about cruising from Galveston instead of Florida

For the rest of 2023, Voyager of the Seas and Harmony of the Seas will sail out of Galveston. There will be a few ships cruising out of Galveston in 2024, including Jewel of the Seas, Mariner of the Seas, Voyager of the Seas, and Harmony of the Seas.

Voyager of the Seas in Costa Maya

I had never cruised out of Galveston, but when I found a cheap, five-night Western Caribbean sailing on Voyager of the Seas, I decided to give it a try. My dad joined me on this cruise - he was also curious to see what it was like to sail from Galveston since he had never been either.

If you are cruising out of Galveston for the first time, my experience may be helpful for you as you plan your upcoming cruise!

First, we had to plan how we would get to Galveston

I quickly found out after embarking on Voyager of the Seas that many cruisers were from Texas. This makes sense, as Galveston is in close driving distance. Since my dad and I live in South Dakota, we had to fly to the closest airport to Galveston, which is Houston. (Though I did meet a family onboard that drove from Iowa!) 

There are two airports in Houston: George Bush Intercontinental Airport (IAH) and William P. Hobby Airport (HOU). When looking at airfare on Delta for both airports, they were similar in price.

HOU is located in south Houston whereas IAH is in the north. Because Galveston is south of Houston, it made more sense to fly into HOU, and that is what my dad and I ended up doing.

If you have the choice between these two airports, try to fly into William P. Hobby Airport (HOU) because it will be quicker and cheaper to get to the Galveston port. This is unless you are able to find a flight from George Bush Intercontinental Airport (IAH) that is significantly cheaper.

The day before our cruise, we flew to Houston and got a hotel near the airport

My original plan was to fly to Houston and get a Lyft or Uber to Galveston so we could be near the port for embarkation day. When I was looking at hotel prices, it was a lot more expensive to stay in Galveston, so we decided to stay in Houston where the prices were much cheaper. It seemed as though most hotels were at least $50 or more a night in Galveston versus Houston.

We ended up booking a hotel near the Houston airport so we didn’t have to drive far. It was easy to get a shuttle to the hotel via the free airport shuttle they offered.

I planned on ordering a Lyft or Uber the next day to take us from Houston to Galveston, but my dad wanted to look into booking an independent company shuttle

When we arrived at our hotel, we told them we were there for a cruise. They gave us a card that said, “Cruise ship shuttle: $20 per person each way (no port fees).” This intrigued my dad, so he decided to give them a call to get it scheduled. 

Lo and behold, the price was not $20 per person. It was actually going to be $60 per person! I was confident that a rideshare would not be more than $120 one way, so this shuttle option was a no-go for us. 

However, an independent shuttle is an option for those traveling with a larger group because the fare is usually cheaper with more people traveling. It just wasn’t ideal for the two of us.

Royal Caribbean does offer a shuttle from the HOU airport to Galveston, but this didn't make sense for us since we were not going to the port directly after arriving at the airport. We also didn’t want to wait around for others; we wanted to leave on our own schedule.

We decided to stick with my original plan of ordering a Lyft or Uber the next day.

On embarkation day, it was easy to get a rideshare to Galveston

As I suspected, it wasn’t a problem at all to get a rideshare from our Houston hotel to Galveston. At 10 a.m., I requested a Lyft and we were picked up within 15 minutes. The total cost of this Lyft was $61.25 including a tip.

Since it was Saturday morning, I wasn’t sure how long it was going to take to get to the port. The ride was 50 minutes in total. Traffic was not bad at this time of the day, but it did get busier as we got closer to Galveston. 

Not long after getting in the Lyft, both my dad and I got a notification on our phones that we could start the mandatory safety briefing. This was the perfect way to kill some time on the way to the port. I highly recommend you watch the safety briefing video as soon as it is available to you so you don’t have to do it once onboard.

After crossing the bridge into Galveston, traffic started to pick up. This was around 11 a.m. There was stop-and-go traffic for about a half mile before we arrived at Terminal 10, Royal Caribbean’s new terminal.

Galveston, Texas terminal

Something to note about Galveston - it appeared that there weren't many hotels close to the port. I mainly saw beach homes. I would assume it would be easier to find an Airbnb or Vrbo than a hotel if you were looking to stay in the area.

If you are driving to the Galveston port, there are parking options close by. At Terminal 10, there are three lots where you can park. You can expect to pay around $20 to $25 per day. According to the Port of Galveston website, “Rates are based on availability.” We also drove by and saw a sign for $70 for private parking near the ship, but it didn’t specify the number of days for that amount, so who knows if that was a better price.

When we arrived at the Royal Caribbean terminal, it was unclear where to go next

Our Lyft dropped us off right at the front entrance of the terminal. Our luggage was swiftly picked up by one of the many porters anxiously ready to help us. All of the porters were easily identified because they were wearing tropical shirts. 

After the porters took our big luggage, we were unsure of where to check-in. There was a sign for The Key and Suites/Pinnacle guests, but not one for everybody else. We asked one of the employees about where to go and they pointed us in the right direction. 

I was not expecting such a long line to get inside the terminal, but this was due to a United States Coast Guard inspection.

We were shocked to see the long line winding around outside. One of the employees was explaining to everyone that there was a Coast Guard inspection going on and that was the reason why the line was so long.

I had received at least three emails from Royal Caribbean about this Coast Guard inspection before embarkation day. One of the emails said, “To ensure we have a smooth boarding process, we kindly ask that you please arrive during your selected arrival window.” We definitely could have come even earlier if we wanted to because of the long line. 

For the next 30 minutes or so, we stood in the heat with hundreds of other cruisers. The line moved slowly but we were thankful that there were fans outside that sprayed us with water. 

As we got close to the inside of the terminal, the line started to move much faster. Once inside, there were escalators and elevators to take us up to the security area.

When we entered the terminal, the intercom announcement was going, but it was confusing because it was listing Crown and Anchor categories that could go off into specific directions. We couldn't understand what it was saying, so we stayed in line with everybody else. The line was moving very fast at this point and we didn’t hear the announcement again to try to understand what they were saying.

Once inside the terminal, the check-in process was a breeze

After we went up the escalator, we checked in and then went through security. This was very quick and efficient.

The first thing we did after stepping foot on Voyager of the Seas was find our muster station. We had to go to the Star Lounge, located at the front of the ship. A scan of our boarding pass and a little presentation later, we were ready to start our vacation!

Looking back, if the Coast Guard had not been doing their inspection that day, the embarkation process would have been around 15 minutes instead of 45 minutes like it was for us. Our check-in time was at noon. We arrived at the terminal around 11:30 a.m. and we didn't get on board the ship until about 12:15 p.m. I was very impressed with the embarkation process even with the delay.

When disembarking, know that you can request a Lyft or an Uber at the Galveston terminal

I once again was prepared to request a rideshare when our cruise was done to take my dad and I to the Houston airport.

On the last day of the cruise, you will receive a “Tips for an Easy Departure” document along with other information to prepare you for getting off the ship. On this document, it stated that, “Taxis are usually readily available outside the terminal. Lyft is the only rideshare available in Port of Galveston.”

The next day, I kept this in mind when we disembarked Voyager of the Seas. I requested a Lyft since this was supposedly my only rideshare option. After waiting for about 15 minutes, no one picked up my request for a ride to the airport. I decided to try Uber and see what would happen. 

After requesting an Uber, I was selected pretty quickly and our driver picked us up within a few minutes. I thought it was strange how Royal Caribbean said only Lyft was an option when I was easily able to request an Uber instead.

Galveston, Texas terminal security

If you were wondering, the Uber ride was an hour long to the HOU airport and cost $65.77, including a tip.

In the future, I would definitely consider another cruise that leaves from Galveston

Galveston is the perfect cruise port for those who live in the South. Though I live in the Midwest, I would select Galveston again as a port to cruise in and out of. I wouldn't necessarily go out of my way to cruise out of Galveston, but my decision would primarily be based on the cruise itinerary, ship, and price.

Royal Caribbean’s new terminal is beautiful and the check-in process was fast and efficient.

If you happen to have a Coast Guard Inspection before your cruise like we did, be sure to pack a little extra patience!

What you should know about cruising from Galveston instead of Florida

29 Nov 2022

With Royal Caribbean's new cruise terminal open in Galveston, Texas, you might be tempted to book a new cruise, but there are few differences you should know about.

Allure of the Seas in Galveston cruise terminal

Galveston's location in the central part of the United States makes it a convenient embarkation port for many people that can drive to the port.

Moreover, prices for cruises from Galveston tend to be less expensive on average than cruises from Florida.

Every embarkation port has its nuances, and there are a few important details you should be aware of that you are likely to encounter on these sailings.

Most people are from Texas and Oklahoma

Galveston cruise terminal

In general, you'll find a lot of people on a cruise ship from the surrounding area, and that is very much the case with cruises from Galveston.

Ships sailing from Galveston tend to attract predominantly residents of Texas and Oklahoma because the port is within driving distance of these people.

Galveston terminal drop off

While some cruise ports may attract more people from other places, cruises from Galveston tend to see more locals than people who fly across the country (or the ocean) to get there.

What this means is you're likely to see folks wearing cowboy boots, 10 gallon hats, and plenty of college football paraphernalia from schools in the surrounding area.

There's a new cruise terminal

Allure of the Seas in Galveston cruise terminal

As mentioned, Royal Caribbean just opened its brand new cruise terminal and that's a big deal if you ever cruises from Galveston in the past.

The 161,334-square-foot terminal is designed to make getting on the ship super easy, so you can get your vacation started sooner.

​ Edit media ​entryway

Parking is ample, and the building looks great.  Being that Galveston is one of the top ports for cruises in the United States, the new terminal has the latest and greatest for making the process of embarkation simple.

Equally important is the disembarkation process, which now includes facial recognition.  Expect less waiting as you walk off the ship.

Limited alcohol on embarkation day

Tito's Vodka

One odd rule you'll run into is the drink selection on embarkation day while the ship is in port.

Due to the Texas Alcoholic Beverage Commission (TABC) law, there is a limit on cruise ships to only sell alcohol made in Texas while in port.

Once the ship has moved into international waters, the full selection of beverages at bars opens up. That usually occurs around 7pm.

There will still be a reasonable selection of beers and liquors, but the full selection will not be available until later.

Try a Shiner Bock beer or Tito's vodka while your ship is docked, and then move onto your favorites once the cruise sets sail that evening.

You want to fly from Hobby airport

Houston Hobby airport

If you have a choice, fly in and out of William P. Hobby Airport (KHOU) instead of George Bush Intercontinental Airport (KIAH).

Both airports are within driving distance of Galveston, but Hobby is significantly closer. Hobby is Houston's oldest commercial airport, and was its primary airport until the Houston Intercontinental Airport opened in 1969.

Southwest Airlines is one of the top airlines that services Hobby. Most other airlines go in and out of Intercontinental. 

Downtown Houston

Just like how Newark International Airport is closer to Cape Liberty than LaGuardia or John F. Kennedy International Airports in New York, Hobby could save you a lot of time.  Hobby is just 40 miles from the port, whereas Intercontinental is on the north side of Houston, and that means dealing with downtown Houston traffic on your way south.

Without traffic, the drive from Hobby will take about 45 minutes, whereas the drive from Houston Intercontinental will take about 75 minutes.

There's Dr. Pepper (and other Texas drinks) served onboard

Dr Pepper

Cruises sailing from Galveston serve Dr. Pepper, in addition to the Coke products the line always carries.

Dr. Pepper is a soda brand based in Texas and due to local demand, Royal Caribbean offers it on their Galveston sailings.

Besides Dr. Pepper, you'll also find Shiner Bock beer, as well as a few other Texas-based liquors. Exact options will vary, but Royal Caribbean wants to cater to the local crowd.  If you aren't local, this is a good opportunity to try something new (especially if you have a Royal Caribbean drink package).

Tito's Handmade Vodka has been available on all Royal Caribbean ships for a while, but it's proudly served on Allure of the Seas since it is produced in Austin, Texas.

Schedule a later flight home than normal

Houston International Airport

People that cruise from Florida all the time are used to picking a late morning flight home, but flying out of Houston is a different ball game.

If you are flying from Houston Hobby, don't schedule a flight before noon.  

If you are flying from Bush-Intercontinental, don't schedule a flight before 1pm.

Why so much later flights than when from Florida? The Houston airports are much further away from the cruise port than Florida, and given the erratic nature of Houston traffic, getting to the airport can take longer.

First look at Royal Caribbean's new Galveston cruise terminal that opens today

09 Nov 2022

Royal Caribbean's new home in Galveston, Texas is open for cruise ships.

New Galveston terminal

Terminal 3 in Galveston is Royal Caribbean's brand new cruise terminal, purpose built to allow the cruise line to send in the biggest cruise ships in the world.

The new $125 million cruise terminal is a symbol of the cruise line's dedication to the Galveston cruise market, and following in the tradition set forth by Royal Caribbean's other recently constructed buildings, it's spectacular to see.

Galveston cruise terminal with Allure of the Seas behind it

I was invited to sail on Allure of the Seas for a 4-night preview event, where we could walk through and experience the new cruise terminal.

The new terminal is located at Pier 10 for exclusive use by Royal Caribbean.

The building is 161,300 square feet and is a state-of-the-art building, including mobile check-in and facial recognition to expedite guest arrival.

Top of the terminal

It will is a LEED-certified terminal (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design), which means it is environmentally responsible and use resources efficiently. 

Architects Bermello Ajamil & Partners Inc. came up with the look of the new terminal, but this firm is no stranger to Royal Caribbean. They also designed Terminal A in Miami, Cape Liberty Cruise Terminal, and Port Everglades' Terminal 18 and 25.

Not only can Terminal 3 handle Oasis Class ships, it will also be able to accommodate Royal Caribbean's new Icon Class ships.

Let's take a virtual tour in and around the new terminal!


Galveston terminal entrance area

Similar to the other new cruise terminals that Royal Caribbean has built recently, the new Galveston terminal is bright with lots of large signage.

As you drive in, there is a pick up and drop off area, with multiple lanes to allow cars to easily get in and out.

Galveston terminal drop off
Galveston terminal drop off

The porters in the new terminal all have a new Caribbean-inspired motif to them, which they say they will wear every day. 

Galveston cruise porter

There is parking available across 4 different lots at the terminal.

Galveston parking map

Once you drop off your luggage, the entrance is towards the front of the terminal.

Galveston terminal entrance
Galveston terminal luggage drop off

Keep in mind the waiting area if you have a later check-in time was uncovered from the sun on the day I was there.

Entry way

​ Edit media ​entryway

Once inside the new cruise terminal, you are greeted with a cavernous lobby.

Similar to Terminal A in PortMiami, there are different ways to enter for suite guests and everyone else. Also similar to Terminal A are the large propellors hanging from the ceiling.

​ Edit media ​entry

The main entrance for most guests will be up the escalator on the left. There is an elevator as well.

Galveston terminal entry


Galveston terminal check in area

Your first stop inside the terminal will be for check-in.

There are agents lined up to check you in by scanning your SetSail pass.  This is when completing the online check-in before the cruise pays off, because if you do everything ahead of time, this will take a matter of seconds.

Galveston terminal check-in agents

Once you complete check-in, you'll go through security. This is when your bags and belongings get scanned.

Galveston terminal security

Suites area

Suites entrance at Galveston terminal

The new Galveston cruise terminal has a special area for suite guests.

Galveston terminal suites entry way

When you enter the terminal, there is a special entrance for suite guests.

This not only means a shorter wait, but it expedites the process of getting you physically from curb to the waiting area.

Galveston terminal suites area
Galveston terminal suites area

Waiting area

Waiting area in Galveston terminal

Once you are past security, you will have a seat in the waiting area if the ship isn't ready to board yet.

Galveston terminal

There are lots of comfortable couches on both sides of the enormous room.

Galveston terminal couch

There are also restrooms here and vending machines, should you need them.

Galveston terminal restrooms

There's also a fun Instagrammable wall.

Vacation is calling

You will also find a large piece of art that was sourced by local artists.

Galveston terminal art

Forged in stainless steel and lost-wax bronze, the Galveston Beach Trio is the embodiment of island time and a dynamic first impression. It is the creation of Texas-based Brad Oldham Sculpture.

Galveston beach trio

Boarding and gangway

Walkway to cruise ship

When they call you to board your ship, the process is just like any other cruise terminal.

Your SetSail pass gets scanned one last time and then you walk down a hallway, where you can stop to take a photo with the ship.

Photo opp
Photo opp

Then, it's onto the ship and walking onboard!

Gangway entrance

Galveston port parking coupon

The Port of Galveston is running a special for parking at the port during the month of November.

Cruise Terminal 10 parking includes a park-and-walk lot and parking with free shuttles.

If you pre-book your parking in November, you can save $10 off with coupon code THANKYOU.

Just go to and use the code to save on your next cruise.

Royal Caribbean updates: first ship uses renewable fuel, Galveston & more

28 Oct 2022

While Icon of the Seas may have dominated the cruise news cycle over the last week, there's other Royal Caribbean news you should know about!

Navigator of the Seas year-round home in Los Angeles, California

Given how large a company Royal Caribbean is, there's plenty of moving parts and we wanted to make sure you were up to date with all of this week's remaining Royal Caribbean news.

If you ever have a news tip, feel free to email it to [email protected] for possible inclusion in a future update!

First U.S. cruise ship begins using renewable diesel fuel

Navigator of the Seas Renewable Diesel

Navigator of the Seas is the first major cruise line in the United States to use a renewable diesel fuel.

Not only is Navigator the first ship, but Royal Caribbean Group is now the first major cruise line operator to sail a cruise ship from a U.S. port with this new kind of fuel.

The renewable fuel being used by Navigator of the Seas contains less carbon than traditional marine fuels. While this fuel is produced from renewable raw materials, the production process for this fuel makes it molecularly identical to traditional marine gas oil — creating a "drop in" fuel that can be safely used with the ship's existing engines.

Navigator of the Seas in Los Angeles

Royal Caribbean will continue using lower carbon fuel to meet part of the Los Angeles-based ship's fuel needs as it evaluates the feasibility for long-term use. The cruise line's goal is to expand its usage to other ships across the fleet. 

For the trial, Royal Caribbean Group has partnered with World Fuel Services to supply the renewable fuel to Navigator of the Seas. The Jankovich Company will deliver the fuel on behalf of World Fuel Services to the ship while at the Port of Los Angeles. Once fueled, Navigator of the Seas will set sail to Mexico.

In addition to testing the use of biofuel aboard Navigator of the Seas, Royal Caribbean Group is set to debut the cruise industry's first hybrid-powered ship in summer 2023, as part of Silversea Cruises newest class of ships, the Nova class.

Miami headquarters rendering

Royal Caribbean Group is also working to reduce emissions while at port by investing in shore power on its ships and collaborating with key cruise ports for its use.

This is in addition to a previously announced deal to bring shore power to PortMiami and a new zero-energy cruise terminal in the Port of Galveston, Texas.

Royal Caribbean Group schedules third quarter business update

Royal Caribbean Group logo

Royal Caribbean Group announced it has scheduled a conference call with investors to discuss its third quarter results and provide a business update.

The call is scheduled for 10am Eastern Time on Thursday, November 3, 2022.

The call will be available on-line at the company's investor relations website,

Local artist partners with new Royal Caribbean cruise terminal

Photo by Abe Hughes

When Royal Caribbean's new cruise terminal in Galveston opens next month, you'll see art sourced from local artists.

Royal Caribbean wants to celebrate local art and culture, so they teamed up with Houston-based Piper Faust Public Art to assemble a slate of Texas artists to consider for this unique opportunity. They picked a design concept by the husband-and-wife team of Brad Oldham and Christy Coltrin of Brad Oldham Sculpture.

The Galveston Beach Trio sculpture, which is forged in stainless steel and lost-wax bronze, will welcome guests at the cruise line's new terminal facility.

The larger-than-life sculpture depicts a musical trio inspired by the rich musical heritage of the historic port city. Galveston has been home to musicians like Grammy Award-winning bass-baritone singer and songwriter Barry White, as well as local artists like Joyce Fields, who played piano for nearly 20 years at Sunday brunch at the historic Hotel Galvez, and Joe Pena, the guitarist known as the Granddaddy of Galveston Rock and Roll.

Joshua Carroll, vice president of Destination Development at Royal Caribbean Group, talked about this new deal, "Our passion lies in sharing the world's incredible destinations with our guests, allowing them to experience cultures from around the world, including the places from which their travels begin."

"Showcasing the history and culture of Galveston was our top priority in establishing this art installation in our new terminal, and we're thrilled to partner with Brad Oldham Sculpture to bring this vision to life."

Royal Caribbean's new terminal opens on November 9, 2022.

Royal Caribbean updates: Starlink on more ships, construction photos & more

14 Oct 2022

Ready to catch up on all of this week's Royal Caribbean news?

Between all the major headlines, Royal Caribbean is busy with a variety of changes and the goal of this website is to keep everyone up to date with what's happening in all aspects of the cruise line.

We combed the internet to share with you all the latest news from this week.

With a fleet of 26 ships, there are always going to be things happening and in an effort to keep everyone up to date, here's a quick run through of the latest news from this week.

Starlink added to two more ships

Starlink receiver

It looks like two more Royal Caribbean cruise ships have gotten their onboard wifi upgraded to Starlink.

Based on reader reports, Starlink appears to be working on Liberty of the Seas and Enchantment of the Seas.

RoyalCaribbeanBlog reader Steve Ritter shared photos of the Starlink receivers onboard, and verified that the ship is now offering the internet service as of a few days ago.

Starlink installed on Liberty of the Seas
Starlink receiver

Similarly, Jason Percival shared that Enchantment of the Seas now has Starlink active.

Starlink internet speed test

This means at least 4 ships now have Starlink active on them:

  • Freedom of the Seas
  • Independence of the Seas
  • Liberty of the Seas
  • Enchantment of the Seas

Royal Caribbean has not provided any timeline of when each ship will get it. They've only said the entire fleet will have it by the end of the first quarter of 2023.

For now, we're reliant on reader reports for confirmation of the switchover.

In case you're wondering, there has not been any update on if the cost of ship internet will change or not. For now, ships with Starlink are still offering the service at the same prices as the older technology.

Royal Caribbean wins Condé Nast Traveler Readers’ Choice Award

Royal Caribbean won an award in the latest Condé Nast Traveler Readers’ Choice Awards.

In the "Mega Ships (more than 4,000 passengers)" category, Royal Caribbean edged out MSC Cruises and Norwegian Cruise Line for the top honor.

Royal Caribbean International President and CEO Michael Bayley shared the news on his Facebook page, "We are so proud to be recognized for the amazing vacations our ships deliver ― they are crafted with all of our guests in mind!"

Galveston construction photo update

Photo by Abe Hughes

Royal Caribbean's new cruise terminal is just 26 days from opening, and we have an on-the-ground photo update to share.

Former Royal Caribbean Cruise Director (and now working in their sales department) Abe Hughes shared photos he took of the new terminal on a recent visit.

Photo by Abe Hughes

The $125 million terminal will be the world's first zero-energy cruise terminal.

Icon of the Seas construction photo

Icon of the Seas construction photo from October 2022

Speaking of construction updates, here's a close up photo from a new venue on the Icon of the Seas.

Royal Caribbean's Senior Vice President of Entertainment, Nick Weir, tweeted a photo of the ship that shows the front of the ship, with some kind of a venue present.

Mr. Weir's photo seems to point to it being related to entertainment, since the head of the cruise line's entertainment division posted it with the word, "Hmmmm" in the tweet.

New Allure of the Seas walkthrough video tour

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Not necessarily news, but you might be interested to watch our new full walkthrough tour of Allure of the Seas.

Filmed last month, this video tour will show off the entire ship so you can be prepared for it when you board.  Or you can use it as an excuse for a virtual cruise escape!

Royal Caribbean is ready to open the world's first renewable energy cruise terminal

13 Oct 2022

A new standard for environmental stewardship has been set by Royal Caribbean.

Galveston cruise terminal

Photo by Alex Roberson

Next month, Royal Caribbean's new cruise terminal will open in Galveston, Texas and when it does, it will set change the norm for all other terminals around the world.

The cruise line says by using solar panels, it will be able to generate 100% of its needed energy. This makes the terminal the first LEED Zero Energy facility in the world, and for exclusive use by Royal Caribbean International cruise ships.

The new cruise terminal will be the home of Allure of the Seas when she begins offering cruises in November 2022.

Galveston cruise terminal construction

The $125 million, 161,334-square-foot Galveston Cruise Terminal will be able to accommodate up to 630,000 guests per year. 

The opening of the terminal will mark the first time Galveston welcomes Royal Caribbean International’s signature Oasis Class, the world’s largest cruise ships, with the arrival of Allure of the Seas and the first time the company is bringing its frictionless arrival and departure process to Texas.

Sustainable cruise terminal

Galveston terminal infographic

When you think of a cruise terminal, you think about almost any large building that can accommodate a lot of people in that they are on the power grid. In fact, I bet you don't think about it because you just assume it's like any other building.

In building this new cruise terminal, Royal Caribbean Group approached design strategies that aligned with its wholistic environmental goals, its focus to advance the development of sustainable infrastructure as well as its decarbonization strategy.

Last year, Royal Caribbean Group announced it wanted to get to net zero emissions by 2050 under a program it calls, "Destination Net Zero".

Solar panels on Galveston terminal

The new cruise terminal in Galveston will be the first in Texas to achieve LEED Gold certification, an industry-leading certification expected to be received within the first two quarters of 2023.

Here's how Royal Caribbean Group reached this goal with the Galveston terminal:

  • Improved Sustainability in Construction
    • The project prioritized using materials that produce less carbon based on energy used and the transportation process.
    • During construction, the team has diverted 75% of its waste from landfill.
    • Minimized interior sources of pollution through the installation of materials with low or zero volatile organic compounds (VOCs) content, and enhanced air filtration media, focusing on occupant thermal comfort and controllability.
  • Renewable Energy and Carbon Reduction
    • The terminal will rely on 30,000 square feet of on-site photovoltaic solar panels, enabling the port’s self-sufficient energy usage. Any remaining energy not used by the terminal will be sent to the local power grid.
    • Carbon emissions are being offset through the purchase of carbon credits.
  • Regional and Global Environmental Benefits
    • Materials and construction selection contribute to the reduction of “heat island effect” in the Galveston area, a region that experiences higher temperatures than outlying areas due to an over-stimulated energy grid.
    • Implement strategies to reduce exterior lighting pollution, which may help minimize negative effects to the night-time sky and the surrounding community.
  • Community Connectivity
    • By offering bicycle facilities and electric charging stations, the project promotes alternative means of transportation for guests and staff from the surrounding community, reducing transportation-related carbon emissions.
    • As the Port of Galveston increases its Electric Vehicles (EV) charging stations, Royal Caribbean International’s terminal, T10, will supply infrastructure for the future installation of eight EV charging stations within its parking lot.
Galveston cruise terminal construction

Royal Caribbean Group President and CEO Jason Liberty celebrated this achievement, "We are focused on innovating across all aspects of our company, especially in our work to advance sustainability in the communities we visit."

"We deeply value both the oceans we sail and the communities we visit and operate in, and the modern design and development features at our terminal in Galveston will work in service of both."

The Galveston terminal is the fourth LEED certified facility, but first to be Gold certified.

Terminal A in PortMiami

Other projects getting LEED certified include:

  • Terminal A at PortMiami
  • The Springfield, Oregon campus
  • The Innovation Lab at Royal Caribbean Group’s corporate headquarters in Miami

Guide to cruises from Galveston

12 Sep 2022

While once an industrial port, Galveston, Texas has since become one of the busiest cruise ports in the United States, offering year-round sailings to the Caribbean.

Galveston terminal drop off

With the upcoming completion of Royal Caribbean’s brand new, $125 million cruise terminal in Galveston, cruises from Texas are set to increase in popularity. Not only will the terminal provide a smoother embarkation and disembarkation process, but it will have increased capacity, allowing Royal Caribbean’s largest cruise ships to sail from the port.

More and more cruisers are looking at Galveston for their next cruise embarkation port, but understanding the ins and outs of this port can be a bit tricky. In this guide, we’ll discuss everything you need to know about planning a cruise from Galveston, from booking flights and hotels to arriving at the port.

In this guide:

Where is the Port of Galveston?

Royal Caribbean’s Galveston cruise port is located at 1028 Harborside Dr, Galveston, TX 77550.

Which airport should I fly into for a cruise from Galveston?

Passengers arriving by plane to board a cruise in Galveston will fly into one of two Houston airports: George Bush Intercontinental Airport (IAH) or William P. Hobby Airport (HOU).

George Bush Intercontinental Airport (IAH)

IAH is the busiest airport in Houston, serving all major US airlines, and you’ll often find competitive pricing when flying into IAH.

It is the second-largest hub for United Airlines, meaning there are nonstop flights from nearly every major US city and over 70 international destinations.

William P. Hobby Airport (HOU)

HOU is the smaller of Houston’s airports, but it’s more convenient as it’s located only 7 miles from downtown Houston.

Houston Hobby is primarily served by Southwest Airlines. The vast majority of flights to Houston Hobby will be on Southwest, so if you live near a Southwest hub, you’re likely to find well-priced, nonstop flights to HOU.

Houston Hobby is located closer to the Port of Galveston, so we recommend searching for flights into this airport first. If prices are significantly higher or there are fewer direct options, however, flying into IAH would be the best option.

How to get from the airport to the Port of Galveston

Once you’ve booked a flight to Houston, your next task is figuring out how you’ll travel from the airport to port.

Unfortunately, the airports are located 40 miles (HOU) and 70 miles (IAH) from the Port of Galveston, so getting from the airport to port is not as convenient in Galveston compared to other ports like Miami or Fort Lauderdale.

That being said, there are several recommended ways to reach the port from the airport:

Rideshare service

The most convenient way to reach the Port of Galveston from a Houston airport is through a rideshare service like Lyft.

Lyft is the exclusive rideshare company at the Galveston terminal, so you cannot use Uber.

This option is best for those traveling with larger groups, as the cost of the Lyft is per vehicle and not per person like many shuttle services. Most Lyfts should be able to fit four passengers in addition to the driver. This brings the travel cost per passenger down significantly when compared to booking a shuttle service.

Expect to pay between $50-60 one-way when traveling from Houston Hobby airport to the Port of Galveston and $90-100 one-way when traveling from George Bush Intercontinental airport to the port. Tipping the driver is standard practice.

If you are traveling with large suitcases or have more than four passengers, you’ll want to book a Lyft XL. These are larger vehicles that can better accommodate luggage and higher numbers of passengers. The cost will be a bit higher for this service than a regular-sized vehicle.

Taxi service

Taxi service is also available from both airports in Houston, but the price of a taxi will likely be higher than what you will pay for a rideshare service. Expect to pay at least $125+ one-way from IAH airport and $75+ from HOU airport.

Because the prices of taxis are higher, we recommend using a rideshare service first.

Booking shuttles through Royal Caribbean

Royal Caribbean offers a shuttle service to and from both the George Bush Intercontinental and William P. Hobby airports, and this can be one of the most convenient options for travelers.

Royal Caribbean’s round trip shuttle service pricing varies by airport and is priced per person. 

  • George Bush Intercontinental: $80 roundtrip
  • William P. Hobby: $64 roundtrip

Note: These were the prices I was given for a tentative sailing in October 2022, although prices are subject to change. For the most up to date pricing, contact your travel agent or Royal Caribbean’s Air2Sea program.

When traveling with one or two guests, a shuttle service can make sense, but the price can get high when traveling with 3, 4, 5, or more guests. In this scenario, booking a rideshare or taxi service usually has a better price-per-person ratio.

Independent shuttle companies

While booking through the cruise line can be convenient, you’ll find a better shuttle price through independently operated shuttle companies in Galveston.

Several companies offer shuttle service to and from both the IAH and HOU airports:

Galveston Express offers shuttles priced at $60-65 roundtrip from HOU airport and $70-75 roundtrip from IAH airport.

Galveston Limousine offers the lowest prices, at $50 roundtrip from HOU airport and $60 roundtrip from IAH airport.

Island Breeze Shuttle does pricing a bit differently than their competitors. They price their shuttle at $150 roundtrip from HOU airport and $190 roundtrip from IAH, but the pricing is for 2 passengers.

The 3rd and 4th passenger from HOU airport cost $60 and $30, respectively, and the 3rd and 4th passenger from IAH airport cost $85 and $50. Group rates are also available.

Should I rent a car to get to the Port of Galveston?

Some passengers may look into renting a car from the airport in Houston and driving to the Port of Galveston themselves.

However, this is typically not going to be the most convenient nor cost effective option, especially if you’re unable to secure a one-way car rental and have to pay to park the car for a week.

It can’t hurt to check pricing and availability, though, especially if you’re traveling with a large family and would prefer having a private vehicle. It can also be a nice option if you plan to explore more of the Galveston or Houston areas before or after your cruise.

What time should I schedule my return flight after the cruise?

Because Houston’s airports are located 40-70 miles from the Port of Galveston, it’s important to budget enough time to disembark the cruise ship, travel to Houston, check-in for your flight, and go through security.

Even if your cruise itinerary says you will arrive at the Port of Galveston at 6 or 7 in the morning on disembarkation day, you may not disembark until 7:30-9AM.

Following disembarkation, you’ll need to catch a rideshare/taxi service or board a shuttle bus to the airport. Factoring in traffic and any potential delays, it might take longer than you anticipate to travel from the cruise ship to the airport.

Therefore, the earliest we recommend booking a flight home from Galveston/Houston is 1PM or later on disembarkation day.

Parking at the Port of Galveston

If you live within driving distance of Galveston and plan to drive to the port yourself, you’ll find many parking options for the duration of the cruise. Here are some of the most convenient and/or best priced options.

Port of Galveston (official parking)

The Port of Galveston offers official parking at Terminal 3 (Cruise Pier 10), Royal Caribbean’s new cruise terminal in Galveston. Parking can be booked in advance directly from the Port of Galveston’s website.

There are three lots at Cruise Terminal 3: the North Lot, South Lot, and Pier 14 Lot.

The North Lot is priced at $22 per day whereas the South Lot and Pier 14 Lot are $20/day.

Here are a few examples of what parking costs to expect at the Port of Galveston with taxes & fees added:

Adventure of the Seas 4-night cruise:

  • North Lot ($97.26), South Lot ($88.60), Pier 14 Lot ($88.60)

Allure of the Seas 7-night cruise:

  • North Lot ($168.71), South Lot ($153.55), Pier 14 Lot ($153.55)

Radiance of the Seas 9-night cruise:

  • North Lot ($216.34), South Lot ($196.85), Pier 14 Lot ($196.85)

Independently-owned parking lots

There are several independently owned and operated parking lots near the Port of Galveston. All of these lots, however, are located near the original cruise terminals and not Royal Caribbean’s new Galveston terminal.

Most of these parking lots will be about a 7-10 minute drive from the port (or a 30 minute walk). Because Royal Caribbean’s terminal is brand new, it’s best to call the parking companies to check whether or not they will provide shuttles from the lot to Cruise Terminal 3.

Independently owned lots typically offer nice savings when compared to the port’s official parking lots, although prices may be subject to change with the distance required to reach Royal Caribbean’s new cruise terminal.

Here are a few of the best rated places to park near the Port of Galveston:

Where to stay the night before your cruise

We always recommend arriving at the cruise port the day before your cruise begins. Unexpected delays and airline cancellations are all too common, so planning to arrive a day ahead of time gives you more wiggle room in case of any mishaps.

Related: Why you shouldn't fly to your cruise the same day it begins

If you arrive in Houston late at night, your best bet is to stay near the airport and catch a shuttle or rideshare service to Galveston the following morning. Be sure to still allow yourself plenty of time to travel between Houston and Galveston in case of traffic or other delays.

If you arrive earlier in the day, however, we recommend traveling to Galveston the day before your cruise and spending the night there instead. This ensures you are already at the cruise port and will not have to travel the morning of your cruise.

Several Royal Caribbean Blog readers have shared their best hotel recommendations in our message boards:

  • Baymont by Wyndham Galveston
  • Springhill Suites by Marriott Galveston Island
  • Holiday Inn Express & Suites Galveston Beach

Which Royal Caribbean ships sail from Galveston?

Allure of the Seas

Allure of the Seas will begin sailing from Galveston in November 2022, and she will be the first Oasis Class cruise ship to ever sail from the port.

Allure of the Seas will offer primarily 7-night Western Caribbean cruises visiting Roatan, Costa Maya, and Cozumel.

Harmony of the Seas

Once Allure heads back to Florida in fall 2023, Harmony of the Seas will come to Galveston to offer 7-night Western Caribbean cruises visiting Roatan, Costa Maya, and Cozumel.

Liberty of the Seas

Liberty of the Seas, which has sailed from Galveston for many years, will finish her time in Texas in October 2022. Until then, she is offering 7-night Western Caribbean cruises visiting the ports of Cozumel, Grand Cayman, Falmouth, Belize City, Roatan, and Costa Maya.

Adventure of the Seas

Adventure of the Seas will be offering shorter cruises from Galveston, with 4-night and 5-night Western Caribbean cruise itineraries.

4-night cruises have two sea days and one port day in Cozumel, whereas the 5-night cruises have two sea days and two port days: one in Costa Maya and the other in Cozumel.

These cruises will be offered from November 2022 to April 2023.

Voyager of the Seas

Once Adventure of the Seas departs Galveston in spring 2023, Voyager of the Seas will begin offering the same 4 and 5-night itineraries in the Western Caribbean.

A few other sailings are available as well: a 6-night cruise visiting Cozumel, Roatan, and Costa Maya and a 5-night cruise visiting Yucatan (Progreso) and Cozumel.

Radiance of the Seas

Radiance of the Seas will sail from Galveston from January to April 2023, offering varied itineraries which range from 6-10 nights in length.

Depending on the itinerary, you can visit Yucatan (Progreso), Costa Maya, Cozumel, Grand Cayman, Falmouth, Belize City, Cartagena, Colón, Roatan, Key West, Nassau, Bimini, Grand Bahama Island, and Perfect Day at CocoCay.

A 15-night Panama Canal cruise will also be offered from Galveston, visiting Grand Cayman, Cartagena, Colón, San Juan del Sur, and Puerto Vallarta before ending in Los Angeles, California. 

Grandeur of the Seas

Grandeur of the Seas offers limited 4 and 5-night Western Caribbean cruise itineraries in fall 2022, visiting Cozumel and Costa Maya, Mexico.

Planning a Royal Caribbean cruise? Start here:

New Royal Caribbean cruise terminal in Galveston is nearly complete

04 Aug 2022

Royal Caribbean's new cruise terminal in Galveston, Texas is nearing completion.

Galveston cruise terminal construction

One of the few projects to continue work during the cruise industry shutdown of 2020-2021 was an expansion of Royal Caribbean's presence in Galveston. 

A construction update shared by the cruise line indicates they are 75% complete with construction.

The $125 million, 161,000-square-foot cruise terminal will cement the company's presence in the Texas cruise market for decades, not only with a larger building, but with increased capacity as well.

Galveston cruise terminal construction

Royal Caribbean International President and CEO Michael Bayley posted on Facebook, "Texas will soon be able to welcome our Oasis Class ships – some of the largest in the world! And we’re kicking off with Allure of the Seas!"

The first Allure of the Seas sailing is scheduled on November 13, 2022 to coincide with the opening of Terminal 3 cruise terminal.

Allure of the Seas aerial with sunset

Not only can Terminal 3 handle Oasis Class ships, it will also be able to accommodate Royal Caribbean's new Icon Class ships.

Allure will sail 7-night Western Caribbean cruises to destinations like Costa Maya and Cozumel, Mexico; and Roatan, Honduras.

Inside the terminal

New cruise terminals are more than just a place to check-in and board your cruise. With the new building comes a smoother process, as well as enhancements in the embarkation and disembarkation procedures.

Royal Caribbean says it will be a state-of-the-art building that will be LEED-certified (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design), which means it will be environmentally responsible and use resources efficiently. 

Galveston's new terminal will also have a special area for suite guests with their own "plussed" seating area before boarding begins.

Royal Caribbean updates: Wonder arrives in Europe, executive changes & more

04 May 2022

Ready to catch up on this week's Royal Caribbean news?

There's always a lot of changes happening, big and small. In order to keep everyone up-to-date, this post has a wrap up of what's new this week.

Check out all of the updates so far this week.

Wonder of the Seas begins European cruise season

Royal Caribbean's newest cruise ship arrived in Barcelona and is ready to begin her summer cruise season in the Mediterranean.

Wonder of the Seas will begin offering 7-night cruises from Barcelona and Rome beginning May 8th.

During her time in Europe, the ship will visit destinations such as Florence, Naples and Capri, Italy; Provence, France; and Malaga, Spain.

Wonder’s western Mediterranean sailings will continue through October.  In November, Wonder will return to the U.S. to sail from its new year-round home in Port Canaveral, Florida, 

New Galveston cruise terminal ahead of schedule

Progress is so good at Royal Caribbean's new cruise terminal in Galveston that construction is actually ahead of schedule.

During a webinar with travel agents on Wednesday, Royal Caribbean Director of Sales for the Central Region, Galen Matthews, provided an update.

"We are super excited that the Galveston terminal construction is actually ahead of schedule," Ms. Matthews shared. "The terminal is now 50% complete and the berth expansion is about 80% complete."

"We will be open for business and ready to receive your clients for the first Allure of the Seas sailing, which is on November 13, 2022."

Terminal 3 cruise terminal will cost $125 million, and is located at Pier 10 for exclusive use by Royal Caribbean.

Executive moves

Two notable Royal Caribbean executives have announced they are departing the company.

Royal Caribbean International Senior Vice President of Hotel Operations, Mark Tamis, is leaving Royal Caribbean International. His replacement will be Sean Treacy, who was working as the Senior Vice President of International Sales.

Mr. Tamis has worked as the head of Hotel Operations since February 2015. He came to Royal Caribbean after serving as senior vice president, Guest Operations with Carnival Cruise Lines.

Royal Caribbean headquarters in Miami

In addition, Vice President of worldwide port operations, Captain Hernan Zini is also leaving the cruise line to go work for Amazon.

Captain Zini also served as Vice President of talent management for Royal Caribbean Group. Many cruise fans may remember him best as the fleet captain and being the start-up Captain for Allure of the Seas when she first debuted.

Royal Caribbean will look for a new person to be appointed to Captain Zini's former role.

New crew member recruitment drive in Antigua

Just days after Royal Caribbean announced it would hire more crew members from Barbados, the cruise line said it will also do a hiring push in Antigua & Barbuda.

Royal Caribbean Group Vice President of Government Relations in the Americas, Russel Benford, announced the news at the Seatrade conference last week.

Royal Caribbean hopes to hire thousands of people from the Caribbean islands during an employment fair in June.

Openings in operations include

  • storekeepers
  • cruise staff
  • youth staff
  • sports staff
  • laundry and restaurant attendants
  • bar waiters
  • wait staff, bakers
  • butchers
  • casino
  • entertainment
  • photographers

Glacier visits

Royal Caribbean's first ships of the Alaska cruise season are visiting glaciers this week.

Photos of Radiance of the Seas and Serenade of the Seas are checking out the Southeast Alaska glaciers, and there's new photos of both ships.

RoyalCaribbeanBlog reader twangster shared this photo of Radiance of the Seas, as seen from Serenade of the Seas.

Royal Caribbean Chief Meteorologist James Van Fleet posted photos of Radiance as well.


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