6 Easy Houston to Galveston Cruise Transport Options (Express Shuttles, Taxis, & More)
Flying into a Houston airport for your cruise? Or maybe you simply don’t feel like dealing with the hassles of driving and parking. No matter the reason, getting from Houston to Galveston is unfortunately the biggest headache in cruising from the island given the distance.
How far is Galveston from Houston? The distance between the two cities is anywhere from 45 and 70 miles, depending on whether you fly into Hobby (closer) or Bush Intercontinental (farther). Fortunately, there are plenty of options for reaching Galveston, even when you don’t have a car. And if you plan to stay on the island before or after your cruise, be sure to visit our page on Galveston hotels with free or discounted cruise parking.
1. Cruise Line Transfers
Most cruise lines will offer some sort of transfer service from both Houston airports to the port. For example, Carnival offers round-trip service for $74 per person from Hobby Airport and $94 per person from Bush Intercontinental Airport to Galveston.
However, cruise line transfers can be somewhat restrictive and expensive if paying for more than one person. Some don’t provide transfers except on cruising day. So if you fly in a day early, you will be without a ride. Meanwhile, they are also priced on a per person basis. So if a family of four is looking for a transfer, the costs can add up quickly. A $74 per-person round-trip ride from Hobby Airport would cost $296… and that’s before you even step foot on the ship.
For that reason, we suggest other modes of transportation from to Galveston, unless you are traveling in a small group.
2. Independent Shuttles (Recommended)
A small cottage industry has formed to transfer passengers between Galveston and Houston.
You are likely familiar with SuperShuttle — the big blue vans you always see around airports. Renting a van runs about $380 round-trip for up to 10 passengers if going from Houston Intercontinental. Rates are about $340 roundtrip from Hobby. If you don’t have as many passengers, you can also reserve a smaller car for a slightly lower rate.
Galveston Limousine offers daily scheduled service from the airports to the island as well. Rates run $100 round-trip per person from IAH ($90 for senior citizens) and $80 round-trip from HOU ($70 for seniors), but online special rates can get you a roundtrip ride to the port for as little as $40. The shuttles depart six times daily, so you there will always be one close to the time you arrive at the airport.
Cool Tours offers a charter shuttle between Houston airports and the Galveston cruise terminal as well. Prices change regularly, but can be affordable compared to other options — especially if traveling with a larger group.
Island Breeze Shuttle provides a shuttle for $150 roundtrip for two passengers from Hobby and $190 roundtrip from Intercontinental.
Galveston Express provides both shared and private shuttle service from the airports to the cruise port for just $60 roundtrip per person from Hobby and $70 per person from Intercontinental.
3. Private Car Services
Private car services can often be your best bet getting to and from the airport. These services can meet just about any budget and accommodation level.
We can’t list prices here because there are actually so many options. Many of these companies run regular shuttles from the Houston airports to Galveston on cruise days. They also have a range of services from shuttle vans to private limo rides.
While still a little pricey, private rides will offer a comfortable car, personal driver, and can pick you up/drop you off at nearly any time. You also don’t have to share a car with anyone you don’t want to. As well, this usually offers the quickest route to the port since you aren’t sharing a ride. The distance from Houston to Galveston is 45 minutes to 1.5 hours by car with no traffic, depending on which airport you fly into.
There are dozens of services that provide private cars, and costs can range from $150 round-trip to several hundred dollars, depending on the car you wish to use. While the headline price may be higher, it is often cheaper to go this route when dealing with larger parties.
We can’t list all of the private services, but what follows are some of the more popular ones. If you search around, you might find others that have lower prices for the specific level of service you’re looking for.
(Note: All of these companies have “Limo” in the name, but offer more options than pulling up to the port in a stretch limousine!)
Always be sure to get a complete “out the door” price quote from any car service so that you aren’t hit with any unforeseen charges.
Taxi fare round-trip from the airport to the Galveston cruise terminal can cost upwards of $250-300 from Bush Intercontinental Airport and $150-200 from Hobby Airport. (Rates vary depending on traffic.) That’s on the expensive side, but remember that usually up to four or five passengers can ride for that price. That makes the cost cheaper per person than the cruise line shuttles. Plus, with a taxi you don’t have to reserve ahead and you can leave whenever you are ready, instead of waiting on a shuttle to fill up.
5. Houston to Galveston Car Rentals
The good news about car rentals is that you will have your own wheels if you want to explore the area before or after your cruise. The bad news is that you will likely have to pay for the rental and parking while you are on your cruise.
Enterprise is the only rental agency on the island, and the company is finicky about allowing one-way rentals from the airports. Instead, they want you to book a round-trip rental. However, you can rent from Enterprise locations away from the airport and book one-way rentals. Keep in mind that rental rates can vary dramatically based on season. We’ve seen rates as high as $60 per day to as low as $20. For more details on car rentals, visit this link.
6. Uber, Lyft, Get Me
These rideshare services may be unfamiliar to some, but can offer a cheaper and more convenient way to get to the cruise port. You simply download the app to your phone, and request a ride. A driver will then pick you up in their personal car.
Currently, rules surrounding Uber, Lyft and other services are muddled. Uber & Lyft do not run in the city of Galveston. Uber operates in Houston — so you can be picked up and then dropped off in Galveston. However, the service will not pick you up there. Lyft operates in neither market.
Given the demand for these services and the lack of consistent Uber/Lyft service, a number of other competitors have sprung up. Most notable is Get Me. There service is similar to other rideshare companies in that you can order up a car via an app on your smartphone. Your credit card details are already entered into your account, so no cash changes hands.
Right now Get Me is operating in both Houston and Galveston and can provide you transportation to and from your cruise. They are also allowed to pick up from Houston airports. The company estimates that will cost between $90-145 for a ride from Houston Hobby to the cruise port, and $145-200 from Houston Intercontinental. For more details, read about Get Me here.