Galveston Cruise Port Guide | What you need to know

by Ray Roman | Last updated on July 26, 2023

Galveston is the fourth most popular cruise port in the United States, but it presents unique challenges to cruisers due to its small size, tourist-oriented price points, and distance from the nearest major airports.

This article will cover four areas that will help you have a great cruising experience from Galveston, including travel to Galveston, pre-cruise accommodation, dining in Galveston, and things to do in Galveston.

Galveston Port
Galveston Cruise Port Guide

If you’re flying into Houston, you’ll likely be flying into Houston Hobby Airport or George Bush Intercontinental Airport, a significant distance from the Port of Galveston.

Transportation options include cruise lines or third-party shuttles, taxis, or ride-sharing services like Uber or Lyft.

Pre-cruise accommodation options range from high-end hotels like the Harbor House and Tremont House to more affordable options along Seawall Boulevard.

Dining in Galveston offers a wide range of options, from fine dining to casual eateries, with an emphasis on seafood. Finally, there are plenty of things to do in Galveston, including fishing, island tours, and visiting museums and beaches.

Key Takeaways

  • Galveston presents unique challenges to cruisers, including transportation and accommodation options.
  • Dining in Galveston offers a wide range of options, with an emphasis on seafood.
  • There are plenty of things to do in Galveston, including fishing, island tours, and visiting museums and beaches.

Travel to Galveston

Airport Options

When traveling to Galveston, you will likely fly into one of two airports in Houston: Houston Hobby Airport or George Bush Intercontinental Airport.

Both airports are a fair distance from the Port of Galveston, which presents some challenges when getting to the port. Houston Hobby Airport is about 45 minutes away from the port, while George Bush is about 30 minutes further.

Transportation Options

To get to the port, you can try cruise lines or third-party shuttles, which are priced per person and can cost between $50 and $75 per person one way.

Families may also grab a taxi for about $160 from George Bush Intercontinental Airport, which can hold up to four people. Uber and Lyft are also options, but prices can vary depending on the time of day and traffic.

An Uber from George Bush Intercontinental Airport to the Port of Galveston costs about $105 without additional discounts.

Renting a car is also an option, but as of research before this video, only Enterprise had a drop-off location on Galveston Island.

The rental cost was around $67-$70 a day, but with taxes and fees, plus the drop-off fee for dropping off the car on the island, it could cost over $300 for two days.

Challenges

Traveling from the airport to the port is not the only challenge. Debarkation day can be particularly challenging, especially on weekends when multiple ships are in port.

Prices and wait times are higher, and stress levels can be through the roof.

Uber and Lyft pickups may require walking outside the cruise port area to a designated pickup place, which can be challenging for new cruisers.

Galveston presents some unexpected challenges for travelers, unlike bigger cities with nearby airports. Researching and planning how to get to and from the airport to the cruise port is essential.

Pre-Cruise Accommodation

When planning your cruise from Galveston, you’ll want to ensure you have a comfortable and convenient place to stay before your departure. In this section, we’ll cover some hotel options in Galveston as well as some alternative accommodation options.

Hotel Options in Galveston

Galveston offers various hotel options catering to different budgets and preferences. Here are a few of our top picks:

  • Harbor House: This hotel is a favorite among cruisers located right next to the Carnival cruise port. It books up quickly, so make sure to book early. Prices range from $200 to $350 per night.
  • Tremont House: This hotel is just a few blocks from the cruise port and within walking distance. It has a rooftop bar and is rumored to be haunted, which adds to its charm. Prices range from $200 to $350 per night.
  • Seawall Boulevard: On the opposite side of the island from the cruise port, this area offers a boardwalk-type atmosphere with many hotels and restaurants. Some name-brand hotels, such as the Hilton and Holiday Inn, offer park and cruise options and shuttles to the port.

Alternative Accommodation Options

If you’re looking for more affordable accommodation options, consider the following:

  • Airbnb: Many affordable Airbnb options are available on the island, ranging from private rooms to entire homes. Prices vary depending on the location and amenities.
  • Webster: This town is almost right between Houston and Galveston and offers cheaper hotel options. We recommend the Hampton Inn, which includes breakfast and is close to a Bucky’s convenience store. Prices range from $100 to $150 per night.
  • Camping: Galveston Island State Park offers campsites for tents and RVs. It’s a great option for nature lovers and is only a short drive from the cruise port. Prices range from $15 to $35 per night.

When choosing your pre-cruise accommodation, make sure to do your research and book early to secure the best prices and availability.

Dining in Galveston

When it comes to dining in Galveston, you will not be disappointed. There is no shortage of great restaurants; if you are a seafood lover, you are in for a big treat. Here are some of our top recommendations and other dining options that you might want to check out.

Top Restaurant Recommendations

  • Willie G’s: Located right on the water next to the Harbor House, Willie G’s is a bit more upscale and offers great food and service. It is a perfect spot for a romantic dinner or a special occasion.
  • Shark Shack: If you are looking for a more relaxed environment, we recommend the Shark Shack. It is just a few blocks from the cruise terminal and has a wide variety of reasonably priced food. It is a great spot for the whole family.
  • Katie’s Seafood House and Fisherman’s Wharf: These two restaurants are located near the cruise port and offer great seafood options. Katie’s Seafood House is known for its fresh seafood and great service, while Fisherman’s Wharf offers a unique dining experience with its waterfront location.

Other Dining Options

Galveston offers many other options, from fine dining to burgers and fries. Here are a few popular spots that you might want to check out:

  • Fish Tales: Located on Seawall Boulevard, Fish Tales offers excellent seafood options and a fun atmosphere.
  • Miller Seawall Grill: Also located on Seawall Boulevard, Miller Seawall Grill offers a great selection of seafood, burgers, and sandwiches—this is one of our favorite places to eat a good breakfast and have mimosas before boarding our ship.
  • Gaido’s Seafood Restaurant: Gaido’s is a Galveston institution that has been serving seafood for over 100 years. It is a bit pricier, but the food and service are worth it.
Millers Seawall Grill Lump Crab Benedict 973x1024 1

Make sure to do your research and find some great places to eat. Galveston has many dining options available, and you will not be disappointed.

Things to Do in Galveston

If you have some extra days on the island, there are a few things you might want to check out while you’re in Galveston. Here are five things that you don’t want to miss:

Fishing

Galveston offers a lot of great opportunities for fishing. You can try your luck with a local captain and catch some redfish, red snapper, and even yellowfin tuna. Many fishing charters are available in the area, so you can easily find one that suits your needs and budget.

Island Tours

If you want to learn more about the island’s history and see its beauty, take an Island Tour. You can choose from various tours, including walking, bike, and bus tours. Some tours even include visits to historic homes and buildings and scenic spots like the Seawall and the Strand.

Museums

Galveston has many museums that are worth checking out. The Bryan Museum is a must-visit for history buffs, as it houses one of the world’s largest collections of artifacts relating to Texas and the American West. The Ocean Star offshore drilling rig and museum is also a popular attraction, as it gives visitors a sense of what it’s like to be on an oil rig. Other museums worth visiting include the Galveston Railroad Museum and the Texas Seaport Museum.

Beaches

Galveston is known for its beautiful beaches, and there are several to choose from. The most popular beach is probably Stewart Beach, which has a boardwalk, concessions, and plenty of activities for kids. Other beaches worth checking out include East Beach, which has live music and volleyball courts, and West Beach, known for its birdwatching opportunities.

Pleasure Pier

The historic Pleasure Pier, located along the Seawall, is like a mini amusement park with food shops, rides, and even a roller coaster. It’s a fun spot for kids of all ages and offers great views of the Gulf of Mexico. You can buy tickets for individual rides or purchase an all-day pass.

Overall, Galveston has a lot to offer visitors, and these are just a few of the many things you can do while in town. Whether interested in history, nature, or just having fun, there’s something for everyone in Galveston.