Why go to Galveston?
Galveston is home to one of the best-preserved collections of Victorian architecture in the country
Fog plagues the port often, leading to occasional cruise delays and difficulties
As the only active cruise port in Texas, Galveston is popular with folks who can drive there
Galveston Cruise Port Facilities?
A total of $65 million has been invested in expanding and improving the terminal, which includes a huge passenger waiting area (to accommodate passengers during fog delays), expanded check-in stations and VIP check-in. Large wall signs with area maps have also been hung around the facade of the terminal building; codes on the maps are able to be scanned with cell phone applications for easy navigation of the city. Another $12 million worth of improvements is in the works for things like adding terminal-wide Wi-Fi. Additional improvements currently being undertaken include construction to turn a nearby parking garage into an area for restaurants, complete with a bridge from the building straight into the cruise terminal; LED signage to direct arriving passengers to proper parking areas; and promotional materials that include bus wraps. The terminal is very close to the Strand and all the beaches and attractions. You'll find in town all the usual services, such as telephones, ATM's, etc.
Good to Know?
Although Galveston is small and its people polite, be aware of your surroundings, don't wear flashy jewelry, and leave unnecessary valuables (including excessive amounts of cash) in your cabin safe. If arriving by car and touring for the day, don't leave luggage in plain view.
The George Bush Intercontinental Airport (IAH) is about 70 miles (roughly 1.5 hours) from Galveston. Hobby Airport (HOU) is closer at about 40 miles (45 minutes to an hour), but there are generally fewer flight options to and from Hobby.
At either airport you'll find all the major car rental agencies, such as Enterprise, National, Avis, Dollar, Thrifty and Hertz. At George Bush Intercontinental Airport (about an hour and a half from Galveston), major car rental companies are located in one common area called the Consolidated Rental Car Facility. Look for the white-and-maroon shuttle buses. Editor's Note: There's an Enterprise car rental location near the cruise terminal, so it's possible to rent at the airport and return in Galveston.
Parking is available at the cruise terminal and will run about $10 a day. Free shuttle service from the parking facilities to the piers is available.
Taxi service from both airports is another option. The fare from Hobby is $95, and from George Bush Intercontinental, $160, plus tip. (The fare is not dependent on number of passengers; a family of four pays the same as a single.) There are a number of taxi companies in Galveston: Busy Bee (409-762-8429), Yellow Cab Company (409-763-3333), Jeff's Cabs and Shuttle Service (409-621-5222) and Tropical Taxi (409-621-4000).
Cruise lines typically offer motorcoach services between the airport and Galveston; these are generally available both as part of air/sea packages and a la carte.
Galveston is a walking paradise, but if you prefer to get around on wheels, consider Island Transit, the city's public transportation system. It operates daily, covering 27 square miles, and stops at designated bus stops and intersections. Fare is $1. Service along most routes runs from approximately 6:15 a.m. until about 7 p.m. (The Bayou Seawall Loop runs until about 11 p.m.) The Galveston Trolley was severely damaged during Hurricane Ike, and it is currently being repaired.
Currency & Best Way to Get Money?
As Galveston is part of the U.S., the currency is the U.S. dollar. International visitors will find it easy to access cash at numerous ATM machines. Exchange bureaus so common in Europe are not in the U.S., but major banks also provide exchange services. Most banks are open Monday through Friday from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Some are open on Saturday mornings.
Where You're Docked?
Galveston Cruise Port Address:
Terminal 1: 2502 Harborside Dr., Galveston, TX 77550
Terminal 2: 2702 Harborside Dr., Galveston, TX 77550
You'll dock at the Port of Galveston on Harborside Drive. If you're sailing on a Carnival ship, you'll be embarking your ship at Terminal 1. If you're on a Royal Caribbean ship, head to Terminal 2. Editor's Note: On days when two ships are in port (usually Sundays), it's best to arrive between 1:30 p.m. and 2 p.m. to avoid the crowds.