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Renting a Car to Get From Houston to Galveston

Cruising from Galveston is perfect… almost.

The major problem? Getting to the port. While literally millions of people live within a few hours of the cruise terminal, there are literally tens of thousands of cruise passengers that fly into the Houston-area airports specifically to take a cruise.

For those people, making the journey to the cruise ship is a major hassle.

The first hurdle is the distance. Looking at a map, Galveston seems relatively close to Houston. But a trip by car from Houston Intercontinental (IAH) is 70-plus miles and can take up to 1.5 hours.

Coming from Hobby Airport is a little easier, but still takes up to an hour to go the 45 miles between the airport and cruise port.

Most people end up getting to the cruise port one of two ways — via one of the shuttle services offered by a few Galveston businesses or hiring a personal driver and car from a limousine company.

These services are fantastic — they let you relax as someone else takes care of the driving. The problem? They can get expensive, especially if you are a family of cruisers. As well, if you want to take a side trip or take your time exploring the area, then you are out of luck.

It shouldn’t be a surprise, then, that we get a number of questions about renting a car to drive from Houston to Galveston. Is this possible?

Is it possible, but we have to tell you, it can also be expensive and a hassle. Here’s the scoop…

Enterprise Rent-A-Car is the only rental agency with a location on the island. That severely limits your options if you plan to rent at the airport and drop the car off in Galveston.

In fact, as we write this an Enterprise representative just told us that the company doesn’t currently offer one-way rentals to Galveston. (She did say that these things change, so it may be worth it to double-check yourself.)

The alternative is to rent the car from a Houston airport, park it in one of the Galveston parking lots during your cruise, and then drive it back to the airport when you depart.

The downside is that you have to pay for rental days where you will be on your cruise, as well as parking fees. A recent search of rates finds a lowest price of $61 per day for a car rental at Bush Intercontinental. In other words, a 7-day rental costs about $450 — and that’s before gas and parking.

Unfortunately, the best way to get from Houston to Galveston isn’t a rental car. It’s expensive and takes some planning. Instead, we suggest a private car for hire or one of the independent shuttles. You can learn more about getting to the port here.

2 Responses so far.

  1. John C says:

    UPDATE:

    I just rented a car one-way from Enterprise in Houston to Galveston for $28 a day with no drop charge in Galveston. Galveston Enterprise was not open on Sunday but they had a drop box for keys. I did have to pay for all day Sunday but it was still a fraction of the cost for a car service. On return, I took the Comfort Inn’s shuttle from the dock, stayed the night there, and Enterprise picked me up Monday morning where I got another one-way car to Houston. Galveston charged $39 a day for the car and then an extra $25 drop charge (I guess because they felt like it) and it still was less than a car service plus we stopped for food and extras at our leisure back to Houston. All in, for 2 adults, I spent about $150 roundtrip and had a car for a couple of days to stop along the way!

  2. Galveston Cruise Tips says:

    John —

    Thanks for the info! Glad you could find such a great deal. No doubt that getting from the airport to the cruise port is the biggest hassle for Galveston cruising.

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