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Port of Galveston History & FAQs

Posted on January 31, 2015 by Jason Hayes in Our Blog

The Port of Galveston is located adjacent to the city of Galveston, Texas, on the upper Texas Gulf Coast. The Port holds the distinction of being the oldest Gulf of Mexico shipping port west of New Orleans. The port is located on the eastern end of Galveston Island, 9.3 miles (15.0 km) from the open ocean, generally about 30 minutes of sailing time.

Continuously upgraded over its history, The Port of Galveston can accommodate all types of cargo including containers, dry and liquid bulk, break bulk, Roll On/Roll Off, refrigerated, and project cargoes. The Galveston Railroad’s terminal switching facilities then move cargo inland by rail.

Of course, one of the Port’s most visible and profitable uses is as a hub for multiple cruise lines.

History of the Port

The Port of Galveston was officially established on October 17, 1825, by a proclamation issued by the Congress of Mexico, when modern-day Texas was still part of Mexico. Little more than a trading post then, the Port has spread to over 850 acres of port facilities today. The City of Galveston and its Port have grown up together hand in hand. Both were founded to take advantage of the island’s prime natural location, called the best natural harbor in the entire colony of Texas.

Until the Galveston Hurricane of 1900 devastated the Port, it was the busiest on the Gulf Coast and perhaps the second busiest in the entire country, after the port of New York City. While it was quickly rebuilt after the storm, its status as the busiest was overtaken by the Port of Houston and other deep-water ports that expanded their facilities without geographic restrictions.

The Port of Galveston still exported the lion’s share of U.S. cotton, plus heavy cargoes of cattle, rice, and other commodities. The Port’s success played a large part in the City of Galveston’s wealth and great esteem.

Port of Galveston
Cargo Cranes at The Port of Galveston

History of Hosting Cruise Ships at the Port

In the 1970s, ocean cruises enjoyed a surge of popularity with American vacationers. The Love Boat, a silly, romantic television sitcom that aired from 1977 to 1986, undoubtedly fueled travelers’ newfound interest in cruising. In 1974, the Port of Galveston began hosting its first cruise ship year-round, and in 2001 a second Carnival ship began docking there permanently. The Port’s 100,000th passenger sailed from the Port that same year.

The Port of Galveston is proud to be the year-round homeport to two Carnival Cruise Line vessels and one Royal Caribbean Cruise Line vessel. In 2003, Princess Cruises announced it would begin seven-day sailings from the Port of Galveston with the maiden voyage of the Grand Princess the following year. The Port also hosted Celebrity Cruise Lines for a time.

Cruise Lines That Stop at the Port

The Port of Galveston recently announced that starting in the Fall of 2013, Royal Caribbean’s Navigator of the Seas will sail year-round out of the Port of Galveston. The Navigator of the Seas will be the largest ship ever home ported in Galveston.

In addition, Disney Cruise Lines and Princess Cruise Lines also now sail from the Port to destinations in the Caribbean and the Bahamas. Disney Cruise Lines sails the Disney Magic (to be replaced by the Disney Wonder) from the Port in the fall and winter seasons. Princess Cruises sailed the 951-foot Crown Princess to the western Caribbean from January to April 2013. Later in 2014, Princess will sail from the Houston Bayport Terminal, via the Caribbean Princess.

Galveston cruise terminal
Carnival Magic Docked at Port of Galveston in 2012

When Arriving

For everyone’s safety, security, and convenience, the best course of action when arriving is to proceed directly to our parking lot at 2727 Santa Fe Place Galveston, TX 77550. Click here for directions. Porters will be ready to help you with your luggage, and our friendly staff will answer all your questions as we shuttle you directly to the port.

When Returning

Returning passengers can either retrieve their vehicles first, then pick up other passengers and luggage at the loading area; or they can take their luggage and other passengers directly to our parking lots.

You’re Going To Need Parking!

Don’t forget this important part of any cruise: keeping your car safe while you’re at sea. Our Galveston cruise parking lot offers 24 hour security and your car is protected by a 10 foot high wrought-iron enclosure topped with razor wire. We also offer lots elevated above street level. Our friendly and helpful staff are dedicated to providing the best cruise parking in Galveston.

Enjoy your trip with the peace of mind that your vehicle will be safe and secure. Reserve your cruise parking online and save $5!

Jason Hayes

Jason Hayes is known as the parking lot guy. He is the owner, shareholder and manager of multiple parking companies, including EZ Cruise Parking, the leading cruise parking company in Galveston, TX. When Jason is not on the parking lot or in the office, he’s either at home working in the yard or playing with his family.


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