Galveston is a port city spread over Galveston Island and Pelican Island, in Texas USA. The city's land area is approx 208 ml2 (539 km2), with population around 50,000. The city is within the "Greater Houston" metro area (Houston–The Woodlands–Sugar Land) with total population over 6,5 million.
Port Galveston TX
Port Galveston is located on mainland Texas' upper coast and on the island's eastern end. The port is at approx 9 ml (15 km) from open sea (Gulf of Mexico). The Port Authority company is "Board of Trustees of the Galveston Wharves".
In 2017, Galveston was ranked USA's 4th largest cruise port. In 2016, it generated USD 58,4 million in local passenger spending, plus USD 19,1 million in port provided services. Cruise ship operations created 1232 direct local jobs. According to port's statistical data, Texas receives from cruise ship operations around USD 1,42 billion per year (direct spending). The industry generates 25,166 state jobs and around USD 1,62 billion in income.
Bayport Cruise Terminal (Houston) is located in Pasadena Texas. The driving distance between Galveston and Houston is approx 50 ml (80 km), or about 1 hour drive in southeast direction.
- Port of Galveston was established in October 1825, making it the oldest Gulf of Mexico port. During the late 19th century, the port was considered to be the USA's 2nd busiest - following NYC New York. The port exported most of the USA's cotton, also cattle and rice. Unfortunately, on September 8, 1900, the port was devastated by the "1900 Galveston hurricane". The storm was Category 4, with strong winds speeding of up to 145 mph (233 kph). This nature accident resulted in 6000-8000 dead, ranking it the USA's deadliest hurricane ever. Although recovered, the port's market position was soon overtaken by Houston and other deep-water US ports in the Caribbean Sea.
- The major contributors for the port's successful business are Carnival Corporation and Royal Caribbean Cruises Ltd (RCCL). Both are the world's largest cruise companies and both home-port vessels here for year-round, round-trip departures.
- Port Galveston is one of the most successful Caribbean USA cruise ports. On September 30, 2015, the port celebrated its 15th year "cruise business" anniversary. On September 30, 2000, the Carnival cruise ship MS Celebration did its first itinerary leaving round-trip out of Galveston Island. In those 15 years, the port have managed 2643 ship calls by 18 different cruise liners, handling over 7 million passengers.
- During season 2017, the cruise port handled a total of 33 ship calls (all turnarounds / roundtrips) and 113,488 passengers. The port's previous record year was 2005 (29 ship calls). In December 2017, was also welcomed the port's 9 millionth cruise ship passenger since its cruising business started on Sept 30, 2000.
- In 2018, in Galveston Carnival Cruise Lines deployed all 3 vessels - Carnival Freedom, Carnival Valor and Carnival Vista (since Sept), with projected annual capacity over 650,000 pax.
- The port also has facilities to handle cargo ships (bulk carriers and container vessels) and dry dock facilities for marine vessel refurbishments and repairs. The port can handle all types of cargo - containers, dry bulk, liquid bulk, break bulk, RO-RO (Roll-on/roll-off) vessels. There is a terminal switching railroad to facilitate larger cargo movements by rail.
Galveston cruise port
- (statistics) In the period 2000-2016, the port invested over USD 85 million in its cruise ship terminals.
- (statistics 2014) the port served 642,000 passengers.
- (statistics 2015) 834,000 passengers (28% increase). 2015 statistics show Galveston as one of the few US cruise ports with increased passenger shipping traffic. The other ports in the USA with increased traffic in 2015 were only Miami FL, San Juan Puerto Rico, Seattle WA and San Francisco CA.
- (statistics 2016) 875,000 passengers
- (statistics 2017) 950,000 passengers, economic impact USD 2,3 billion, jobs 13892
- Direct spendings are over USD 1,2 billion. Generated jobs are 20,000 (paying over USD 1,1 billion in total income). Cruise ship vacation related spending in Texas is accounted for 6,3% of the industry’s direct expenditures, and 5,6% of the industry's nationwide overall spending.
- In January 2014, the cruise port signed a 5-year agreement with Royal Caribbean, generating over USD 1,86 million in annual revenues. The agreement required improvements to be made to Terminal 2 to accommodate larger ships and more passengers. The terminal's size was increased to 150,000 ft2 / 13,940 m2 (passenger capacity up to 1000) at the cost of USD 10 million.
- In February 2015, Carnival added the ship Carnival Freedom as its 3rd year-round vessel in Galveston TX (joining here the fleetmates Carnival Magic and Carnival Triumph). This increased the company's year capacity up to 600,000 passengers.
- In 2016, Carnival ships homeported in Galveston (operating on round-trips) were Carnival Breeze, Carnival Freedom and Carnival Liberty. The Royal Caribbean ships in 2016-2017 homeported year-round here were Liberty of the Seas and Vision of the Seas.
- MS Disney Wonder offers round-trip departures during the autumn and winter months, then is relocated through Panama Canal to Alaska for the summer.
- In August 2017 (25-27), the port was closed due to Hurricane Harvey, producing significant rains in the area during the weekend. This affected the schedules of 4 cruise ships - Carnival Breeze, Carnival Freedom, Carnival Valor and Liberty of the Seas. The port was shut down to all shipping traffic (cargo and passenger). Freedom and Valor were relocated to New Orleans. Breeze remained docked overnight in Cozumel. Liberty of the Seas was diverted to Miami.
- In 2017, the cruise port reported a record monthly cruise shipping volume - 113,488 embarking passengers, on a total of 33 departures in December. The port's previous record was 29 turnarounds (December 2005). In Dec 2017, the port also celebrated its 9 millionth passenger.
- In 2017, a total of 258 ship calls and nearly 1,9 million passengers were handled. For 2018, the cruise port had booked 308 ship calls, with estimated over 2 million passengers.
- In September 2018, Carnival Cruise Line repositioned Carnival Vista here - replacing Breeze and joining the fleetmates Valor and Freedom.
- Seasonally (2018-2019 / October - January) here were homeported 3 Carnival ships (Vista, Valor, Freedom), 2 Royal Caribbean ships (Liberty Of The Seas, Vision Of The Seas) and 1 Disney ship (Disney Wonder). Port's current cruise schedule has two liners leaving on Saturdays, two on Sundays, one on Mondays, one on Thursdays. The Disney ship leaves on Fridays.
Cruise itineraries from Galveston Texas
Follows a list of destinations visited by cruise ships leaving out of Galveston:
- Most departures from Galveston are operated by ships from the fleets of the cruise lines Carnival, Royal Caribbean and Disney.
- (Western Caribbean) 7-day cruises visit Honduras (Roatan island) and Mexico (Costa Maya, and Cozumel).
- (Western Caribbean) 7-day cruises visit Jamaica (Montego Bay), Grand Cayman (George Town) and Mexico (Cozumel). Another port of call could be Belize City.
- (Eastern Caribbean) 7-day cruises visit Florida (Key West) and Bahamas (Freeport, and Nassau). Also can be visited the Bahamian private islands Half Moon Cay (Carnival), Castaway Cay (Disney) and CocoCay (Royal Caribbean).
- (Western Caribbean) 4-day cruises stop at Cozumel Mexico only.
- (Western Caribbean) 5-day cruises visit Mexico (Progreso, and Cozumel).
Highlights: Barrier Island Beaches, Historic homes, Houston
Galveston cruise terminal
The port consists of the Pelican Island's southern side, the Galveston Island's northern side and the Galveston Bay's entrance. The Galveston Ship Channel's authorized min depth is 45 ft (14 m). Its width at the narrowest point is 1200 ft (370 m).
- UN-LOCODE (United Nations location code) - USGLS
- supported by excellent road, rail and air infrastructure
- capability to accommodate 3 vessels at a time
- deep water channel - min depth (45 ft / 13,7 m), narrowest point width (1200 ft / 366 m)
- deep water berths
- sheltered harbor area, direct access to Gulf of Mexico
- The cruise port is accessible the whole year round – 24/7, 365 days a tear.
- Cruise ships usually arrive in Galveston in late afternoon (4 or 4:30 pm) and depart from Galveston in early evening (at 7 or 8 pm).
- Know that cruise passengers disembarking in Galveston must pay tax on alcohol and cigarettes imported into Texas (purchased either on the ship or at ports of call).
Galveston cruise port has 2 terminals. "Cruise Terminal 1" serves vessels of Princess and Carnival. "Cruise Terminal 2" is utilized by Disney, Celebrity and RCI Royal Caribbean. Both passenger terminals are with modern, most efficient customer facilities.
Cruise Ship Terminals 1 and 2
- Terminal 1 address - "2502 Harborside Dr., Galveston, TX 77550"
- Terminal 2 address - "2702 Harborside Dr., Galveston, TX 77550"
- Terminal 1 (pier 25) is for docking of Princess and Carnival ships.
- Terminal 2 (pier 27) is for docking of Disney and Royal Caribbean ships.
- location - some 40 ml / 70 km from Houston Hobby International Airport (~60 min drive distance), some 70 ml / 110 km from Houston Intercontinental Airport (~90 min drive distance)
- GPS coordinates - pending
- Embarkation: luggage must be unloaded at the terminal curbside prior to parking. Shuttles don't handle luggage during embarkation.
On November 30, 2016, the port completed an USD 13 million project that expanded the passenger area at "Cruise Terminal 2". Terminal's both buildings are now connected by an enclosed, air-conditioned walkway. The passenger area was increased from around 90,000 to 150,000 ft2 (8360 to 13950 m2). Seating was increased from 500 to 2000 seats, baggage holding-, customs- and waiting areas were expanded, and 16 more check-in booths were installed.
Terminal 2's expansion works started in 2014, financed by Royal Caribbean. However, construction roadblocks delayed the project with roughly a year. The expansion also included a longer docking pier with extra bollards. The dock project cost around USD 3,5 million and was completed in 2017. The expanded Terminal 2 now has capacity to handle up to 5,000 passengers at a time.
In 2018, on Terminal 2's channel side were added new mooring structures to allow docking of the longer Carnival Vista. The main mooring was upgraded with 200-ton bollards. The port is currently in the conceptual stage (designs) for building a new (3rd) cruise terminal as the demand for large vessels leaving from Galveston on the weekends is constantly growing. The port also plans to add LNG bunkering facilities in near future.
Cruise ship terminal directions & parking
- From East - take Highway 87. Board a Port Bolivar vehicle ferry. Exit the ferry onto Ferry Road (Highway 87). Turn right onto Harborside Drive, then continue to Kempner (22nd Street) - some 20 city blocks. Turn right onto Kempner (22nd Street) and follow the signs to the terminal (Pier 25 or 27).
- From North or West - take Interstate 45 South, then Exit 1C, Follow the feeder road to Harborside Drive (Highway 275), then turn left onto Harborside Drive and for ~5 ml / 8 km to Kempner (22nd Street). Turn left onto Kempner (22nd Street) and and follow the signs to the terminal (Pier 25 or 27).
- Cruise Parking Rates (subject to change) - USD 45 (on 4-day cruises), USD 50 (on 5-day cruises), USD 70 (on 7-day cruises). Parking is guarded, lighted, with 24 hour surveillance and police patrol. Phone number 409 766-6100.
- Debarkation: go directly to the Parking Lot to retrieve your car (without luggage). Then pick up passengers and luggage at the terminal curbside. Depart the terminal via shuttles. The service is provided only in parking lots with luggage drop-off signs.
- If you plan to flight to Galveston, you will arrive at either Hobby Airport, HOU, or George Bush International Airport, IAH, you have to rent a car or take a cruise line shuttle. There is no public transportation to Galveston from the airports in Huston. Galveston Limousine offers service to Galveston cruise ship terminal for USD 30. Taxi fare are USD 100 from George Bush Intercontinental and USD 75 from Hobby Airport.
- Cruise port's parking rate is USD 11.25 per day (subject to change). Payment options are cash, VISA / MasterCard or to pay in advance on the port's website. Four-day cruise parking costs USD 45, 5-day - USD 46.25 and 1-week (7-day) – USD 78.75.
Galveston tours, shore excursions, hotels
City Tours and Shore Excursions
During you stay, Galveston can offer plenty of activities for any age. You can enjoy tropical rainforest adventure or rest at the sunny beach. If you prefer, you can visit amusement places near the Galveston cruise port terminal like:
- Texas Seaport Museum
- the Ocean Star Offshore Drilling Rig and Museum
- the Moody Gardens
- the Bishop’s Palace
- the Stewart Beach Park
Port Galveston cruise ship schedule shows timetable calendars of all arrival and departure dates by month. The port's schedule lists all ships (in links) with cruises going to or leaving from Galveston, Texas. To see the full itineraries (ports of call dates and arrival / departure times) and their lowest rates – just follow the corresponding ship-link.
The Galveston cruise port map is interactive. It shows the port's exact location, along with the real-time cruise ship traffic (if any) in its vicinity - today, and right now. By zooming-out you can see other cruise ship ports located near Galveston, Texas.
If you lose the Galveston location on the map, simply reload the page (also with F5 button). This feature is integrated with the CruiseMapper's cruise ship tracker tracking the vessels' current positions at sea and in ports.
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