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Cruises You Can Take Out of the Galveston Port

April 2, 2024 Texas, Texas History

It won’t raise any eyebrows to learn that the three busiest cruise ports in the U.S. are in Florida, but it may surprise many to learn that the booming port in the fourth slot is in Texas: the historic Galveston Port.

“Everything is bigger in Texas, including these cruise deals from Galveston. There are more cruises than ever departing from this popular port, giving you way more options on your next getaway,” reports “Positioned on the Gulf Coast, Galveston is your gateway to the Caribbean — and well beyond. Island hop through the Bahamas or explore the Lesser Antilles (and all the hidden gems in between). Awe at the marvelous Panama Canal. Or set off to discover the wonders of Europe.”

Galveston: Nearly 1.5 Million Cruise Passengers Per Year and Growing

Galveston, established as a port in 1825, trails only Port Canaveral, Port Miami, and Port Everglades in annual cruise passengers with almost 1.5 million cruise goers departing one of Galveston’s three cruise terminals on major cruise lines such as Carnival, Disney, Norwegian, Princess, and Royal Caribbean.

“Galveston is the fourth busiest homeport in the country, with cruises departing throughout the year. Galveston's cruise industry continues to boom with additions of new cruise ships such as the Carnival Jubilee, Norwegian Prima, and more!” reports Visit Galveston. “Galveston is located conveniently for short getaways down the Gulf Coast to Mexico or even longer trips to the Caribbean or further; Galveston is a convenient port that is also a worthy destination in and of itself.

As flying has become more expensive, and just all around more difficult, since the pandemic, Galveston’s cruise business has grown in popularity, especially with the passengers that would rather drive than fly to their homeport.

“The Port of Galveston is quickly becoming one of the world’s busiest cruise ports outside of Florida, mainly due to its strategic location on the Gulf of Mexico,” says Cruise Critic, which ranked Galveston as the “Best Drive-To Homeport” in the U.S. “This category might seem subjective, depending on where you are driving from, but the Port of Galveston serves the entire state of Texas, nearby Louisiana, and landlocked states such as Arkansas and Oklahoma. Additionally, there's so much to do in Galveston without leaving the immediate cruise port area -- shops, restaurants, and bars abound along the pier.”

History of the Galveston Cruises

Galveston first got into the cruise game in the 1970s as a way to revitalize the city.

“In the 1970s, with the need for more business, local officials began looking at cruise lines to rejuvenate the port. The popularity of cruise lines rose thanks to television shows like The Love Boat. These shows sparked interest in the traveling public. In 1974, the port began hosting its first cruise ship,” says the Port of Galveston.

Galveston ramped up its efforts to attract cruise passengers in the 1990s and that effort paid dividends when Carnival began docking its ship, Celebration, at the port.

After Hurricane Ike in 2008, the port bounced back in a big way, making improvements to its terminals and other major cruise lines followed Carnival’s lead to Texas.

The growth of Galveston’s cruise business is evident in the passenger numbers which totaled 400,000 in 2014 and have grown almost four-fold in the last decade.

“Through the years Carnival, Royal, Princess, Disney, and Norwegian cruise lines have scheduled a growing number of ships to homeport and make seasonal sailings from Galveston,” says the Port of Galveston. “Driven by industry demand, the port has continued to improve and expand its cruise infrastructure. “

Those improvements included a third cruise terminal, a $125 million project, that opened in November 2022. All of this added up to a record cruise year in Galveston in 2023 with 354 cruise sailings.

“Port of Galveston welcomed 1.49 million cruise passengers in 2023, based on a total of 2.98 million embarkations and debarkations, a 42 percent increase from the year before,” reported Seatrade Cruise News. “The numbers were driven by the opening of a third cruise terminal, a strong national cruise industry, Galveston’s growing popularity as a cruise homeport, and more and larger ships homeporting, according to Galveston Wharves CEO/Port Director Rodger Rees.”

Check Out These Cruises You Can Book Out of Galveston

Channel your inner Love Boat by booking one of these cruises out of Galveston, according to

  • Carnival: The most popular cruise line in the world offers getaways to Mexico from Galveston.
    • Ships: Carnival Breeze, Carnival Dream, Carnival Jubilee, Carnival Legend, and Carnival Miracle.
    • Sample Itineraries
      • Western Caribbean 2 to 13 days.
      • West Caribbean, Eastern Caribbean, Panama Canal 6-10+ days.
      • Western Caribbean, Tran Atlantic to London (Southampton) 6-10+ days.
  • Royal Caribbean: Some of the most innovative cruise ships in the industry sail out of Galveston on Royal Caribbean.
    • Ships: Harmony of the Seas, Jewel of the Seas, Mariner of the Seas, and Voyager of the Seas.
    • Sample Itineraries
      • Western Caribbean, Mexico 4 to 8 days.
      • Western Caribbean 9 to 10 days.
  • Norwegian: Features ships with world-class amenities, activities, and entertainment.
    • Ships: Norwegian Escape and Norwegian Prima.
    • Sample Itineraries
      • Western Caribbean 7 days
      • Western Caribbean and beyond 7 and 14 days
  • Princess: The most recognized cruise line in the world was catapulted to stardom in 1977 when Pacific Princess was cast in a starring role on a new television show called The Love Boat.
    • Ships: Regal Princess.
    • Sample Itineraries
      • Western Caribbean 5 to 16 days
  • Disney: On a Disney cruise, there is something for everyone: relaxing "me" time for the adults, imaginative fun for the kids, and exciting family time for all.
    • Ships: Disney Magic.
    • Sample Itineraries
      • Western Caribbean 4 to 7 days
  • MSC: Set sail from Galveston beginning 2025 on MSC's newest, modern, and most sustainable cruise ships, and take part in environmentally friendly shore excursions.
    • Ships: MSC Seascape.
    • Sample Itineraries
      • Western Caribbean 4 to 7 days

Enough Port of Calls to Last a Lifetime of Travel

With more than 350 cruise ship departures each year from Galveston, there are enough ports of call offered to last a traveler’s lifetime. Cruise lines list the following ports of call in 2024 on their cruises departing from Galevston:

  • Amber Cove (Puerto Plata), Dominican Republic.
  • Barcelona, Spain.
  • Basseterre, St. Kitts.
  • Belize City, Belize.
  • Bimini, Bahamas.
  • Cartagena, Colombia.
  • Cartagena, Spain.
  • Castaway Cay (Disney Private Island).
  • Celebration Key, Bahamas.
  • Charlotte Amalie, St. Thomas, U.S. Virgina Islands.
  • Colon, Panama.
  • Costa Maya (Mahahual), Mexico.
  • Cozumel, Mexico.
  • Falmouth, Jamaica.
  • Fort Lauderdale (Port Everglades), Florida.
  • Frederiksted, St. Croix, U.S. Virgin Islands.
  • Freeport, Grand Bahama Island.
  • George Town, Grand Cayman.
  • Grand Turk Island, Turks & Caicos.
  • Great Stirrup Cay (Cruise Line Private Island), Bahamas.
  • Half Moon Cay, Bahamas (Cruise Line Private Island).
  • Harvest Cay, Belize.
  • Key West, Florida.
  • Kralendijk, Bonaire.
  • La Romana, Dominican Republic.
  • Lighthouse Point, Bahamas (Disney Destination).
  • Mahogany Bay (Roatan), Bay Islands, Honduras.
  • Malaga (Granada), Spain.
  • Montego Bay, Jamaica.
  • Nassau, Bahamas.
  • Ocho Rios, Jamaica.
  • Oranjestad, Aruba.
  • Panama Canal Full Transit.
  • Panama City, Panama.
  • Perfect Day at Coco Cay, Bahamas.
  • Philipsburg, St. Maarten.
  • Ponta Delgada, Azores, Portugal.
  • Princess Cays (Cruise Line Private Island).
  • Progreso (Merida), Mexico.
  • Puerto Limon, Costa Rica.
  • Puerto Plata, Dominican Republic.
  • Road Town, Tortola, British Virgina Islands.
  • Roatan (Isla Roatan), Bay Islands, Honduras.
  • San Juan, Puerto Rico.
  • Seville, Spain.
  • St. Johns, Antigua.
  • Valencia, Spain.
  • Willemstad, Curacao.

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