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Begin Your Caribbean Cruise At The Port Of Galveston, Texas

Updated on February 26, 2012
Aerial view of Galveston's cruise terminals
Aerial view of Galveston's cruise terminals

Galveston, The Port of Texas

Galveston city is sited on a barrier island on the Gulf coast of Texas about 50 miles south from Houston.

The first large settlement on the island was named Campeche. It was established by Jean Lafitte and his pirate band in 1817. The pirates were forced from their hideout by the US Navy in 1821. In 1836 Michel Menard a native of Canada bought a ‘league and labor’ parcel of land on the island from the Austin Colony for $50,000 to build a town. The city, planned om a grid pattern, quickly grew with the addition of residential houses, warehouses, shops, hotels and custom house. Galveston’s growth stopped in its tracks when a hurricane hit the island on Sept 8 1900 bringing severe destruction to the city. After the hurricane the city constructed a concrete seawall with a protective beach to defend Galveston from any future hurricanes.

Today Galveston has risen to become a main city with a profitable commercial shipping harbor and a thriving tourist industry.

Galveston cruise terminal 1
Galveston cruise terminal 1
Gavleston cruise terminal 2
Gavleston cruise terminal 2

Cruise Ship Facilities At Galveston

The first cruise ship to homeport out Galveston was Norwegian Cruise Line’s Southward on a summer series of cruises in 1974. The ship operated from Pier 15. But The port’s first cruise ship terminal, terminal 1, was not built until 1990. In 1999 Carnival, the biggest cruise ship business in existance, announced a decision to offer cruise vacations from the Port of Galveston. In Sept 2000 the cruise ship Carnival Celebration cruised for the first time out of the port. In 2002 RCI’s Rhapsody of the Seas began operations from Galveston sailing from a newly made cruise terminal 2.

Cruise Terminal 1

Cruise terminal 1 offers efficient baggage handling services, fast customs facilities and a large cruise passenger embark and debark area. The terminal has access to a single cruise ship berth. Terminal 1 is utilized by Carnival and Princess Cruises.

Cruise Terminal 2

Facilities available at terminal 2 include guest lounge, a snack bar, restrooms, customs and baggage trolleys. The terminal services a single cruise ship berth. Celebrity Cruises, Princess Cruises and Royal Caribbean use cruise terminal 2.

Long-term parking is offered for both terminals at parking lots A and B. A free shuttle bus transfers passengers between the parking lots and the terminals.

For the port website see Port Of Galveston.

Chankanaab Park at Cozumel, a popular Cozumel shore excursion.
Chankanaab Park at Cozumel, a popular Cozumel shore excursion.

Itineraries On Offer

Galveston is an excellent port of departure for a week long cruise calling at interesting ports in the Caribbean.

The variety of destinations on offer make for a fabulous trip. You’ll be able to travel to a number of exciting sights - in Roatan swim in the warm waters of Half Moon Bay Beach, in Costa Maya get up close to the amazing flora and fauna of the verdant rain forest, in Cozumel swim in the warm waters of Chankanaab Park and in Grand Cayman stroll along the beautiful sands of marvelous 7 Mile Beach.

For Galveston cruise ship schedules, including full details of itineraries, see cruises from Galveston.

Elissa three masted ship at the Texas Seaport museum
Elissa three masted ship at the Texas Seaport museum

Things To Do In Galveston

Texas Seaport Museum

Visit the Texas Seaport Museum to see the 1877 tall ship Elissa, which worked as a merchant vessel for almost 100 years. The ship first called at Galveston as long ago as 1883. Walk the decks to visualize life on a merchant sailing ship in the late nineteenth century. See Texas Seaport Museum for more information.

Ocean Star Offshore Drilling Rig and Museum

The Ocean Star Drilling Rig and Museum boasts three floors of exhibits and models detailing the story of offshore oil and gas from seismic technology to oil extraction. Check out videos and exhibits explaining seismic exploration, rig operation and oil production. Visit the gift shop for t-shirts, books, souvenirs and dvds. See Ocean Star Offshore Drilling Rig and Museum for more information.

Bishop's Palace

If you can only visit one of Galveston's historical treasures, many people would recommend superb Bishop's Palace. Colonel Walter and Josephine Gresham commissioned Nicholas Clayton, Galveston's premier architect, to design and build what is arguably the finest building in old Galveston. The house, elevated on massive stone foundations, is one of the few early era buildings to survive the devastating 1900 hurricane. Your trip to Bishops Palace will take you back in time to the golden age of Galveston prosperity. See Bishop's Palace for more information.

Schlitterbahn Waterpark

The Schlitterbahn Waterpark offers nearly twenty heated water fun zones, many inside, such as four enclosed tube slides, wave pool, three kids water playgrounds, hot tubs and three speed slides and lots more. See Schlitterbahn Waterpark for more information.

East Beach

East Beach Park offers a wide selection of amenities including umbrella and chair rentals, a snack bar, volleyball courts, an outdoor pavilion and showers. The beach slopes at a gentle angle into the sea, and on a sunny day the water is perfect for kids to splash around in. See East Beach for more information.

Follow the road signs with a cruise ship symbol
Follow the road signs with a cruise ship symbol

Journeying To/From The Port Of Galveston

By Car

From the North

Follow I-45 South to Galveston Island. Leave at Exit 1C signed Harborside Dr. Follow the Exit 1C feeder road then turn left onto Harborside Drive (Highway 275). Continue nearly 5 miles to Kempner/22nd Street, turn left onto Kempner/22nd street to reach the cruise terminals.

From the East

Take State Highway 87 West to Galveston. Catch the Port Bolivar car ferry. Leave the ferry on Ferry road/Highway 87. After 3/4 mile make a right onto Harborside Drive/Highway 275 Continue 1 mile then turn right onto Kempner/22nd street to arrive at the cruise terminals.

From the Airports

There is a lack of public transportation from the Houston airports to Galveston, so the options available are to catch a cruise line shuttle bus or hire a car.


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    • capitula profile image

      capitula 3 years ago

      Carnival is offering a number of longer cruises to the Southern Caribbean out of Galveston in Feb 2015. A great idea, with hopefully a decent uptake.