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Major Changes for Royal Caribbean in Galveston

Posted August 18th, 2017 in cruises by Galveston Cruise Tips

Royal Caribbean’s confidence in Galveston continues to grow.

Since first coming to the island, the cruise line has battled right next to Carnival to win the dollars of cruise passengers. Traditionally, this has led to bigger and better ships. Liberty of the Seas, currently sailing from Galveston, is the largest and newest ship that Royal Caribbean has put on the island.

Now the cruise line is making another investment. This time, however, it’s much smaller.

Starting in November, Royal Caribbean will bring Vision of the Seas to Galveston. Vision of the Seas is an older ship — it was first launched in 1998. As well, it’s much smaller than the Liberty of the Seas, holding just about 2,500 passengers.

So why is a smaller, older ship such a big deal for Galveston?

Until now, Royal Caribbean had only the Liberty of the Seas sailing from the island. The ship’s route includes only week-long trips to the Caribbean. Meanwhile, Carnival has had several ships sailing from Galveston, with some going on shorter four and five-day cruises. If a cruise passenger wanted to go on a cruise shorter than seven days, then their only choice was to sail on Carnival.

This move puts Royal Caribbean in direct competition with Carnival for those shorter cruises. When the Vision begins sailing, it will take four and five-day trips to Mexico, including ports in Cozumel, Costa Maya, and Progreso. It will continue to sail those trips until being swapped with the Enchantment of the Seas — a ship of similar size and age — in 2018.

For most cruise ports, having a 20-year old cruise ship come to visit may not make a big fuss. But seeing how this opens up a much larger number of cruises for those sailing from Galveston, and it shows Royal Caribbean’s continued commitment to growing it’s Texas cruise business, it’s welcome news.

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Visualizing The World’s Largest Cruise Ships in Galveston

Posted July 19th, 2017 in fun by Galveston Cruise Tips

A few months ago, it was announced that Carnival planned to bring its largest and newest ship — Carnival Vista — to port in Galveston in 2018.

This came as big news for the island, both literally and figuratively. First, the company placing the pride of its fleet in Galveston is a strong signal of how much it values the Texas market. Just about 15 years ago there wasn’t a single cruise ship sailing from the island. Now it sees the biggest and best ships from the world’s most popular cruise line.

Second, cruise ships in Galveston continue to get larger. Vista is the largest in Carnival’s fleet, but Royal Caribbean continues to increase the size of their ships ported in Galveston as well. Liberty of the Seas, which currently sails year-round from the island, measures more than 1,100 feet and can carry nearly 5,000 passengers. (For comparison, Vista is 1,062 feet and carries about 4,000 passengers.)

And while no word has been made yet, it wouldn’t be a surprise if Royal Caribbean eventually puts an even larger ship in Galveston. It’s already adding a second ship soon (Vision of the Seas). Why not continue to increase its presence with one of its Oasis or Quantum class ships?

With that in mind, we wanted to see just what it would look like if both Carnival and Royal Caribbean ported the largest ships in their fleet on the island.

Below we should how it might look to have Harmony of the Seas (Royal Caribbean’s largest ship) and Carnival Vista docked in Galveston at the same time.

First, here’s what the port looks like now when both Carnival and Royal Caribbean are in dock:

And here’s how those ships would look next to Harmony of the Seas and Carnival Vista. You can see how much larger these ships are!

Finally, here’s what Royal Caribbean and Carnival’s largest ships would look like if docked on their own:


Uber & Lyft Return to Galveston for Cruise Passengers

Posted June 1st, 2017 in news by Galveston Cruise Tips

Over the past couple of years, there’s been plenty of drama concerning rideshare in Texas. While cruise passengers loved the services because they offered a cheap ride to the cruise port from Houston, cities imposed regulations on the services.

The result of those city rules was that both Uber and Lyft pulled out of the Galveston market and Lyft left Houston as well. This meant cruise passengers had to find alternate (and usually more expensive) ways to get from Houston to the Galveston cruise port.

That’s not the case any longer.

Following recent statewide legislation, rideshare companies operating in Texas are regulated on the state level instead of the local level. That means there is no longer a patchwork of rules for them to follow, depending on the city.

Following the passing of the legislation, Uber and Lyft have come back into many Texas cities. Austin may have received the most fanfare when the companies came back, but more quietly Lyft returned to Houston and both companies returned the Galveston.

That’s great news for cruisers living or flying into the Houston area.

Uber and Lyft offer affordable transportation to the cruise port, typically at a sharp discount to taxi cabs or shuttle services if you travel with a family or group. Estimated fares for Uber and Lyft are $42-56 from Houston Hobby to the cruise port each way.  The estimated cost is $73-96 for a ride from Bush Intercontinental to the Galveston port.

Keep in mind that fare is for the car, not per person like many other shuttle services. Up to four people can ride for that price. So a family of four flying into Houston Hobby would spend about $80-110 roundtrip for a ride to/from the cruise port, compared to $240 for the cheapest shuttle service.

Having more options — and cheaper ways — to get to the cruise port is a great thing. Getting from the airport to the cruise ship is without a doubt the biggest hassle of cruising from Galveston. This should make it easier and attract more passengers to the island.

For more on using these services to get to the cruise port, visit our page on port transportation.

Note: If you are a first-time Lyft rider, use our sign-up here to download the app and get FREE ride credits for your first rides. Please note that we receive a small commission for new sign-ups from links on this website.

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7 Galveston Hotels with Indoor (or Heated) Pools

Posted January 20th, 2017 in hotels by Galveston Cruise Tips

If you’re headed to Galveston for a cruise, then there are no doubt images of warm Caribbean beaches in your mind. In fact, you might want to be starting that beach time a little early by going to Galveston the day before you sail.

And while the island is great to visit and has tons to do, no one will confuse it for a Caribbean beach paradise. The water isn’t clear and there are no white sand beaches. Meanwhile, if you are traveling on your cruise outside of the warm summer months, the water is a little cool for swimming.

It’s understandable that many people visiting Galveston look for a hotel with an indoor or heated pool. It’s the best of both worlds — you get swim in warm, clear water while also enjoying all the fun things to do on the island.

Unfortunately, there aren’t a ton of options on the island. Nearly every hotel in Galveston has a pool, but they are typically outdoors and unheated.

That said, we searched every hotel to find your best options. The following hotels have indoor pools and/or outdoor heated pools. It’s a great way to get your swimming in, even if you visit during the winter.

Rates are for a recent search for a Saturday night stay. Click each hotel to read reviews from travelers like you on TripAdvisor.

Galveston Hotels with Indoor Pools

Comfort Inn & Suites Beachfront
Located just west of 61st Street on the Seawall, this hotel is located in the western part of Galveston. It’s not far from Schlitterbahn or Mood Garden, but is a few miles from most of the restaurants and the Pleasure Pier. But given it’s location right on the Seawall, it’s not hard to get around the island. There is also a Kroger and Wal-mart within walking distance.

$199 per night | Read more about Comfort Inn & Suites Galveston

Country Inn & Suites by Carlson
Don’t let the name fool you. This hotel is anything but “country.” It’s located right on the Seawall and is recently built. In fact, it’s a prime location within walking distance of Galveston’s Pleasure Pier and some of the Seawall’s most popular restaurants. Best of all, the indoor pool will keep you from having to brave the cold Gulf during the winter months.

$179 per night | Read more about Country Inn & Suites Galveston

Moody Gardens Hotel, Spa, & Convention Center
Moody Gardens has grown to be one of Galveston’s largest attractions and the spa and hotel are happy to cater to visitors staying in the area. Located on the northwest side of the city, there is plenty to do, including visiting the famed pyramids that house both a rainforest and an aquarium. You are farther from the beach, but with both and indoor and outdoor heated pools, you won’t miss your chance to get in the water.

$251 per night | Read more about Moody Gardens Hotel, Spa, & Convention Center

Galveston Hotels with Outdoor Heated Pools

Hotel Galvez
Arguably Galveston’s most famous hotel, this stately hotel was built more than 100 years ago. It sits in the heart of Galveston’s Seawall, close to the beach and many of the island’s attractions. The hotel features an on-site health spa, in addition to a hot tub and heated outdoor saline pool.

$269 per night | Read more about Hotel Galvez

San Luis Hotel
Located just east of the Galveston Convention Center, the San Luis Hotel is one of Galveston’s premier properties. The resort features a lush, tropically-landscaped pool area, complete with heated water. In fact, it almost looks more like a Vegas-style hotel than most of what you find on the island. Best of all, it sits right on the Seawall, giving beautiful vista of the Gulf of Mexico.

$359 per night | Read more about the San Luis Hotel

Holiday Inn Galveston on the Beach
This more affordable option sits right next to the San Luis Hotel on Galveston’s Seawall. It certainly doesn’t have the same “resort” feel of its neighbor, but does have a great location right on the Seawall, as well as an on-site restaurant and lounge/nightclub

$143 per night | Read more about Holiday Inn Galveston on the Beach

Hilton Galveston Island Resort
Right on the Seawall, great views of the Gulf and a heated pool? What more could you ask for? The Hilton offers the level of service you would expect from the brand-name hotel. In addition, you are in position right near several restaurants and next door to the Convention Center. If you need to pick up a few items, a grocery store is also a short walk away.

$329 per night | Read more about Hilton Galveston Island Resort

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Carnival Valor Coming to Galveston; Replaces Liberty

Posted November 11th, 2016 in cruises, news by Galveston Cruise Tips

There’s little doubt you’ve heard of the mechanical issues affecting the Carnival Liberty. The ship had to cancel multiple cruises due to an issue that affected its top speed. After spending a considerable layover in the Port of Galveston, the issue appears to still be unresolved.

While everything on the ship is still operable, its top speed is still an issue. In response, Carnival is replacing the Liberty with the Carnival Valor in December.

Carnival Liberty is scheduled to enter dry dock for upgrades in early December. This dry dock was planned well in advance of the mechanical issues affecting it appeared. Once it exits dry dock, however, it will then sail to Port Canaveral (near Orlando). The Carnival Valor will then switch from Port Canaveral and sail from Galveston.

Since Galveston is relatively far from any Caribbean ports, the speed of the ship is extremely important. This switch will give Galveston a cruise ship that can make the speeds needed to sail to the Caribbean and return in a 4 or 5-day cruise.

The Valor and Liberty are sister ships, so passengers shouldn’t notice much of a change in the type of ship they will sail on.

The Valor will start sailing from Galveston on December 17th. Past that date, it will simply pickup the schedule that the Liberty originally had, with no changes. Until then, however, there are some changes in the scheduled trips.

Here are the details from Carnival:

Carnival Liberty’s modified cruises from Galveston for the balance of November are as follows:

14 CRUISE – The Nov. 14 five-day departure will include an overnight call in Cozumel (the call at Progreso has been cancelled). The ship’s arrival back into Galveston on Nov. 19 will be delayed until later in the day. Guests sailing on this voyage will receive a $50 per person credit to their shipboard accounts and a 25 percent discount on a future Carnival cruise. Guests also have the option of cancelling and receiving a full refund.

19 CRUISE: The Nov. 19 seven-day cruise will include stops in Cozumel and Costa Maya (the calls in Falmouth, Jamaica and Grand Cayman have been cancelled). The ship’s departure time will be 10:00pm for this cruise. Guests sailing on this voyage will receive a $50 per person credit to their shipboard accounts and a 25 percent discount on a future Carnival cruise. Guests also have the option of cancelling and receiving a full refund.

26 CRUISE – The Nov. 26 five-day departure will include an overnight call in Cozumel (the call at Progreso has been cancelled). The ship’s arrival back into Galveston on Dec. 1 will be delayed until later in the day. Guests sailing on this voyage will receive a $50 per person credit to their shipboard accounts and a 25 percent discount on a future Carnival cruise. Guests also have the option of cancelling and receiving a full refund.

Have questions? Have you sailed on the Valor before? Let us know in the comments.