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Set sail from a historic jewel in the Gulf of Mexico on Carnival cruises out of Galveston, Texas. Perched on the Gulf Coast, Galveston was a major commercial port in the late 1800s and has the restored architecture and proud history to show for it. Galveston’s long seawall stretches from beach to beach and offers gulf views the whole way. Sprinkle in a few museums, amusement parks, attractive beaches and tasty seafood restaurants, and you’ve got a great start to your cruise from Galveston.

  • Shop for antiques in the historic Strand District, near where Carnival cruises from Galveston dock.
  • Hear the sounds of a Central American rainforest at the gardens.
  • Treat yourself to spa day at a historical hotel.
  • Bike the length of the mural-adorned Seawall.

See it all from Galveston.

* Taxes, fees, and port expenses are additional per person.

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Galveston shoreline

Cruises from Galveston

An island full of art, architecture, and boutiques.

Princess® returns to Galveston, sailing once again from this city tucked within a quaint Gulf Coast barrier island. Explore the Galveston Island Historic Pleasure Pier and grab some local cuisine, or visit Moody Gardens with attractions and entertainment ranging from a world-class aquarium and a living rainforest to the Discovery Museum and Colonel Paddlewheel Boat, before you embark on a cruise to exciting destinations in the Western Caribbean and Mexico such as Costa Maya, Cozumel and Roatan.

cruise in galveston

Caribbean Cruises

On a cruise from Galveston to the Western Caribbean, explore the beauty of unspoiled coral reefs and underwater caves as well as visit the ancient Mayan ruins throughout the region. One moment you can be walking among the vast ruins of this mighty civilization and the next delving into the culture of the Yucatán Peninsula or simply unwinding on beaches that offer some of the best snorkeling in the world.

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What to Know About Cruises from Galveston

See the Galveston Wharves when cruising with Princess.

Galveston at a Glance

  • Language: English
  • Currency: U.S. Dollar (USD)
  • Time Zone: Central Time (CT)
  • Docking: Your cruise from Galveston docks at the Port of Galveston located in the city’s historic downtown district.
  • Attire: Galveston’s temperatures throughout the year typically range from 48 to 90 degrees Fahrenheit, meaning it’s never too hot or too cold to spend the day at the beach.
  • Transportation: You can get around the island by Uber, Lyft, shuttle, limousine, or rental car. There are also unique transportation options such as surreys along the beachfront and horse-drawn carriages in the historic downtown district.

Fun at the Pleasure Pier in Galveston.

Things to Do in Galveston

Before getting on a cruise from Galveston, start your vacation with a visit to the city’s museums, historic neighborhoods, and cultural icons. Take a walk along the Galveston Island Historic Pleasure Pier, home to family-friendly rides, games, and other attractions. Then relax on one of Galveston’s many iconic beaches and enjoy the 32-miles of coastline. Whether you are traveling with family, a group of friends or your significant other, this laid-back island has something for everyone.

Cruise Ships Sailing from Galveston

The Princess Seawitch beneath blue sky

Join our Princess fleet to sail on some of the best cruises from Galveston. Find the comforts of home along with the luxuries you deserve on board any of our ships. Discover what makes our fleet so unique.

Learn more about: Regal Princess

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We get you where you need to go.

Let Princess pick you up from the airport and take you directly to your ship or hotel when you arrive, even if you didn't book your airfare through us. A uniformed Princess representative meets you at the airport after you've retrieved your luggage and transports you directly to your ship or hotel without you having to worry about the logistics of navigating a new city.

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Cruise Plus Hotel Packages

Stay longer and relax.

Extend your cruise vacation, and simplify your travel plans with a hotel stay at the beginning or end of your cruise in Galveston. With a Cruise Plus Hotel Package, a Princess representative meets you at the airport and pier, transporting you to and from your hotel. The package includes the cost of your hotel stay, transportation, luggage handling and the services of the representative.

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Find a great cruise from Galveston

What are the best cruises from galveston.

Several great cruises out of Galveston in 2024 are available, including Royal Caribbean International's , Allure of the Seas and Harmony of the Seas , which travel throughout the Caribbean Sea. On these cruises, you can set sail while enjoying entertainment and Broadway musicals in addition to buffet meals, room service, and spa treatments with stunning views from the deck. Norwegian cruise lines are also quite rewarding, with luxury amenities and plenty of stops along the Mexican coast.

How can I find a cheap cruise out of Galveston?

When you search for budget Galveston cruises in 2024, you can sort your results by price to put the cheapest options at the top of the list. Discounts are already applied in the search prices and you will find attractive cruise deals. Most cheap cruises from Galveston reach ports in the northern Caribbean, such as the Bahamas.

What cruise lines operate from Galveston?

A variety of Galveston cruise lines depart from Galveston port including Carnival , Royal Caribbean International, Norwegian, Princess , Disney , and more. Couples, families or groups can all find options leaving from Galveston. You’ll find luxury, all-inclusive, last-minute or all types of cruises with the cruise lines that operate out of Galveston.

How can I find good cruise deals out of Galveston?

All deals on cruises departing from Galveston will be marked on your search results page with a green box right above the cruise price estimate. Within the green box, you'll see the upper limit of the discount available. Sorting by price is a great way to put these kinds of results at the top of the search page. Additionally, you'll want to consider the perks and amenities you can get for a discounted price, as that can be a great deal compared to a cheaper cruise without any of the extra features on deck.

What should I look out for when booking a cruise from Galveston in 2025?

To get the most out of your cruise out of Galveston, you'll need to find one that offers the kind of experience you'd enjoy most. Consider who you'll be traveling with, as a romantic cruise can be far different from a more family-friendly cruise. Additionally, consider what kind of amenities come with the price of a ticket and what is extra. Fortunately, you can always check the "What's included" section of any cruise to learn more. Since most cruises from Galveston go to the Caribbean or the Mexican coast, be sure to consider which destination is most appealing. Plus, winter travel from Galveston can still take you to warmer shores.

Where are the best places to go on cruises leaving from Galveston?

Several incredible destinations are within cruising distance, with cruises from Galveston to Mexico being particularly popular. Some ports in Mexico include Puerto Vallarta, Cabo San Lucas, Cancun and Cozumel. You may also be interested in cruises to the Bahamas . These cruises traverse over 700 islands with plenty of white beaches and turquoise water to enjoy.

What are some good all-inclusive cruises from Galveston?

All-inclusive cruises from Galveston in 2025 come in many forms, but they all feature an inviting cabin, food, and entertainment such as what you'll find on Norwegian cruises or Princess cruises. Both of these cruise lines may already include quite a bit in the price of a ticket such as spa facilities and room service, check your cruise booking for details.

What are some great family cruises out of Galveston?

Family cruises from Galveston to exciting destinations like Jamaica and Cozumel offer fun for adults and kids alike, and Disney cruises tend to be among the best in that regard. You'll also find youth programs available with Royal Caribbean International and Princess cruises out of Galveston. Royal Caribbean has water slides and zip-lining. Princess cruises have onboard education programs for the kids. Of course, the captain makes sure that family cruises are smooth sailing as well for a relaxing experience.

What are some good adults-only cruises from Galveston?

Adults-only cruises out of Galveston to destinations like the Bahamas or Jamaica let you relax on your journey throughout the sea in 2024 without the noise of kids nearby, and you'll find some alluring options from Carnival cruises and Norwegian cruises. Plus, adults-only cruises often include drinks from the bar in the price of the ticket, which is something that would typically cost extra.

What are some good singles cruises from Galveston?

Singles cruises out of Galveston to destinations like Antigua and Mexico are specifically designed to let adults meet each other, and you'll find plenty of options from Royal Caribbean International along with Princess cruises. The activities and entertainment onboard are geared toward the solo traveler looking to find unforgettable experiences on the waves.

Are there any Christmas cruises from Galveston in 2024?

Yes, you can find Christmas cruises by searching using travel dates around Christmas. Going on a cruise is a popular winter vacation in Galveston for travelers looking to reach warmer shores, so just about every cruise line that's common to the port typically has something available. Most of the cruises visit the Western Caribbean with ports like Cozumel, Costa Maya, and Belize.

What are some great gay cruise lines out of Galveston?

Princess cruises and Royal Caribbean International have several gay cruises from Galveston available offering a variety of experiences, with some being 5-day cruises from Galveston and others lasting nearly 2 weeks. The captains on these cruises can take you throughout the Caribbean, with some having multiple shore excursions in places like Jamaica, Mexico, and the Cayman Islands.

How do I book a cruise from Galveston on Expedia?

To book a cruise out of Galveston, all you have to do is browse our pre-selected deals or set Galveston as your departure destination to see more. You can narrow down the search quite a bit by picking an arrival destination and departure dates as well. Plus, you'll find filters for a variety of cruise aspects such as cabin conditions, cruise lines, cruise ships, and more.

How can I find last-minute cruise deals from Galveston?

To find last-minute cruise deals from Galveston, simply enter your planned departure date, even if it's sometime soon, and available deals will be marked with a green box above the price on the search results page describing how much of a discount you can get. Additionally, you may want to sort your results by departure date to see what's the closest cruise available and get out to sea as soon as possible.

Can I book weekend cruises out of Galveston?

Plenty Galveston weekend cruises are on offer, you just have to find the right one for you. Venturing out of the Galveston port for a weekend is easy when you take advantage of the available search filters. Activate the filter for 3-5 nights in the cruise length section then sort the results by length to find the shortest cruises available. Common weekend destinations from Galveston include the Mexican coast and more ports throughout the Western Caribbean.

Do I need a passport to cruise from Galveston?

Whether you need a passport on a cruise from Galveston depends on where the cruise will return. If it's departing from Galveston and returning at the same port, you won't need a passport even if you anchor in another country like Mexico during the cruise. This is called a closed-loop cruise, and it means that as long as the cruise begins and ends in a US port, you don't need a passport.

Can I cancel my cruise booking?

Yes, you can cancel any cruise booking from your My Trips page or by contacting customer service. How much of a refund you get depends on the cruise line's specific policies and how far in advance of your departure you cancel, so make sure to cancel in advance to get the best deal.

Why should I book a cruise from Galveston with Expedia in 2024?

When you book a cruise out of Galveston, Texas, with Expedia, you can expect a wide variety of options available alongside search tools that make it easy to narrow down results and find the right ship for your cruise vacation.

Galveston Cruise Guide

cruise in galveston

Galveston, where beautiful shoreline beaches stretch along the Gulf of Mexico, is a port to many major cruise lines including Carnival, Disney, and Royal Caribbean. Since it's a popular Island city to visit by cruisers, a lot of hotels offer hotel parking programs that allow guests complimentary parking and a free shuttle to the cruise port.

If you’re only in Galveston for the morning before embarking on your cruise, make sure to grab breakfast at one of the many local mom-and-pop shops, like Farley Girls Café or the Gumbo Diner. Then take a stroll through historic downtown Galveston for shops, restaurants, museums, and an interactive pirate museum, Pirates! Legends of the Gulf Coast. If you're around for longer, there’s a variety of live music events that happen all year round, like inside the Moody Mansion, which is one of the many historical buildings found in the city. For animal lovers, try out a dolphin tour, or stop by the Moody Gardens complex which features a botanical garden, a giant aquarium and a live rainforest replica. Lastly, no trip to Galveston would be complete without stopping by the Island Historic Pleasure Pier, the family-oriented amusement park that features 16 rides, games, and a variety of shops and food venues including Texas’ very first Bubba Gump Shrimp Co.

Pre and Post Cruise Hotels in Galveston

Galveston Beach Hotel

Galveston Beach Hotel

Reviewed on May 9, 2024

Inn at The Waterpark

Inn at The Waterpark

Reviewed on May 8, 2024

Gaido's Seaside Inn

Gaido's Seaside Inn

Reviewed on May 11, 2024

Beachfront Palms Hotel Galveston

Beachfront Palms Hotel Galveston

Reviewed on May 12, 2024

Wingate by Wyndham Galveston East Beach

Wingate by Wyndham Galveston East Beach

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5 THINGS TO CONSIDER WHEN PLANNING A CARIBBEAN CRUISE

Heather McManus - Aug 12, 2019

The Caribbean is calling! Find the answers to the most commonly asked questions before going on your next Caribbean cruise.

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Located off the coast of Texas approximately one hour south of Houston, Galveston boasts 32 miles of expansive beaches and numerous historic buildings mingled amongst unique shops, art galleries and restaurants. Having hosted pirates and explorers before the island was officially settled in the 1830s, the region has a storied past you can revisit whilst touring local museums and historic districts. Then soak up some relaxation, sunshine and warm sands during a well-deserved beach day or splash the afternoon away on a paddle boarding or kayaking tour.

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Complete Guide to Cruising From the Port of Galveston

They say everything is bigger in Texas. And while the cruise port in Galveston may not be the biggest (that title goes to Miami ), cruising from the island seems to get bigger every season. Now with three cruise terminals, more than a million passengers sail from Galveston in a year.

Sign in front of Port of Galveston cruise terminal

One of the big reasons for that popularity? Passengers sailing from Galveston usually don’t have far to go to get to the cruise port and head out on vacation. The Houston area — home to about 8 million people — is just about an hour away. Meanwhile, other large Texas cities including San Antonio, Dallas, and Austin are only a few hours’ drive.

That proximity to so many people makes it easy to see why Galveston has blossomed into the largest cruise port outside of Florida.

The good news is that with only three terminals and ample parking facilities, it’s fairly simple to get your way around the Port of Galveston. However, many people — especially those flying in for their cruise who are unfamiliar with the area — may have questions about what to expect.

If you’re about to cruise from Galveston, we have this guide to answer everything you would want to know about sailing from the port.

In This Article...

  • Distance from Bush-Intercontinental Airport: 75 miles | 75 minutes
  • Distance from Houston-Hobby Airport: 45 miles | 50 minutes
  • Number of Terminals: 3 
  • Passengers Carried Each Year: ~1 million
  • Cruise Ship Dockings Each Year: ~300

Port of Galveston Location

Galveston Island sits as a barrier island just off of Texas, attached to the mainland by Interstate 45. If you’re coming from the Houston area, you’ll approach over a short causeway that will bring you just a few miles from the port. Those coming from the east normally take the free ferry between Galveston and the Bolivar Peninsula.

The port itself sits on the northern side of the island, protected from the Gulf of Mexico. Its location makes it a convenient spot to set sail as it only takes 30-45 minutes for the ships to get out to the open water.

What’s not convenient is that the port sits at least 45 minutes from the nearest major airport (Houston Hobby). In other words, if you are flying in for your cruise, then you will need to figure out transportation to the ship (we have full details below.)

Given the location, many people choose to drive in for their cruise. If driving into the port, the address is:

2502 Harborside Dr. Galveston, TX 77550

Galveston Cruise Terminals

cruise in galveston

While ports in Florida may as well be cities they are so large, Galveston in comparison is much smaller and easier to navigate. With the addition of a new terminal that is home to Royal Caribbean, there are now three cruise terminals on the island.

Cruise Terminal 25 (Formerly Terminal 1) Cruise Terminal 25 is the eastern terminal when facing the port. The terminal primarily serves Carnival ships. It’s right across the street from a number of parking options, making it extremely convenient to get to and from the ship on cruise day.

Cruise Terminal 28 (Formerly Terminal 2) Cruise Terminal 28 was the home to Royal Caribbean ships before they moved to the new terminal. Now it serves other lines. It’s on your left as you face the port. If you’re walking to the terminal, it’s a bit farther than Terminal 25, but if you are taking a shuttle, they will drop you off right at the entrance.

Cruise Terminal 10 With the size and growth of the Port of Galveston, it was only a matter of time until another terminal was built to accommodate more ships and passengers. Cruise Terminal 10 (complete guide here) is the new home to Royal Caribbean and has the ability to handle its largest Oasis-class ships. The terminal sits east of the current facilities, costing more than $130 million to build. It is located about a mile from the other two terminals and features its own parking areas. 

Getting to the Port of Galveston (Transportation)

As we’ve mentioned, sailing from Galveston is easy and convenient if you live in the area. You can simply drive and park at the port. If you have to fly in for your cruise, then you’re looking at another 45 to 75-minute ride to get to the cruise port. That’s because the nearest major airports are in Houston.

Not to worry, however. We have all the details on the major modes of transportation on our port transportation page . Below we hit the highlights of the major ways to get to the ships.

Driving to the Port One of the reasons that Galveston is such a popular cruise port is that millions live within a few hours’ drive of the port. That makes it convenient to get to the cruise port and not having to deal with airports or flying. As well, having your car means you can get to the port when you want, leave as soon as you get off the ship, and not have to meet anyone else’s schedule.

One good thing about driving to Galveston is that there is ample parking right near the port that’s affordable. See details in the parking section below.

Cruise Shuttles Given the distance between Houston and Galveston, an industry of shuttles have popped up that provide rides from the airport to the cruise port. Typically these shuttles offer shared rides at affordable rates and leave at set times from both locations. There are also private car options available that can give you a ride for a bit more money, but offer direct service and can even make any stops you’d like.

For cruisers flying in, shuttles pick up and drop off at both airports. You can see the details of your options here . Costs run about $50-75 per person, roundtrip.

Uber/Lyft or Taxi Rideshares and taxis are available at the airports to take you to the port. In general, you can expect Uber/Lyft to be less expensive than taxi cabs. Still, given the distance from the airport, the price can add up. For example, Uber/Lyft will cost you about $50 each way from Houston Hobby and $75 each way from Houston Intercontinental. Cabs run about $105 between Hobby and $180 for Intercontinental.

If traveling with a larger group, then these options can be cheaper as they charge by the car while shuttles charge per person.

Parking at the Port of Galveston

One of the best things about cruising from Galveston is that parking is easy, (relatively) cheap, and convenient. The area around the port offers ample parking, with official Port of Galveston parking lots competing alongside independent lots.

cruise in galveston

We have full details of all your parking options with complete prices here . Below we cover parking for your cruise in general terms. One tip — always reserve a spot ahead of time as there are discounts at each lot for advance payment.

Official Port Parking The Port of Galveston operates ample parking that’s near the cruise terminals. A shuttle will transport you back and forth from your car and the ship for free. The cheapest rates run about $100 for a 7-day cruise and $70 for a 5-day cruise if you book ahead of time. There are also more expensive lots that are covered and/or closer to the terminal.

With the addition of Terminal 3 — located about a mile from the original terminals –passengers also have official parking options at that port, instead of having to shuttle from Terminals 25 & 28. The port accepts cash, traveler’s checks and credit cards. 

Independent Parking Lots As the Port of Galveston has boomed in popularity, nearly a dozen independent parking lots have sprouted up all around the port facility. These lots typically offer cheaper rates than the official port parking, while sometimes being even closer than the port’s parking. There are also a number of options for covered parking. See a list of independent lots here .

Hotels with Cruise Parking As a tourist destination, Galveston offers a lot of hotels for visitors to choose. In the competition for business, these hotels look to provide guests with perks to attract those about to take a cruise.

One popular perk is free parking for the length of your cruise in return for a one-night stay. Some offer cruise parking as part of a package, others just let you leave your car while you cruise. Click here for a full list of hotels with cruise parking .

Dropping Off/ Picking Up Passengers

Are you dropping off or picking up family or friends? The good news is that it’s fairly simple to drop people off in Galveston. Meanwhile, providing a ride to the port saves a lot of money in paying for a shuttle or having to park during the cruise.

Galveston cruise passenger drop off

To drop off passengers or pick up, head into the port entrance at the intersection of 22nd Street and Harborside Drive. From there, it’s as simple as following the signs to the correct area for passengers to get out.

When it’s time to pick up people at the end of the cruise, you follow the same route for picking up. One thing to know is that it can get busy on cruise day, with lots of pedestrians. If you want to avoid this, you can plan to drop off a couple of blocks from the port. Here it is much calmer and still only a short walk to the cruise terminals.

Map of where to drop off passengers

Those wanting to drop-off at Cruise Terminal 10 will find signs and lanes for drop-off at that pier itself (don’t drop off at Terminals 25/28). More details about dropping off at this new terminal can be found here .

Security & Check-In

Compared to airports, checking-in and security on a cruise ship is a dream.

For example, instead of the familiar blue-shirted TSA officers, security is done through private companies. You don’t have to take off your shoes or belt, you aren’t restricted to only three ounces of liquids, and you don’t have to take electronics out of your bag.

As you approach the terminal, you’ll see lots of porters ready to assist you with your bags. If you wish to check any luggage, you can leave it with the porters, and it will be delivered to your stateroom later in the evening.

From there, you enter the terminal and check your boarding documents with the cruise staff. Once they ensure you’re in the right spot, you’ll head through security. Here, you place your bags on an x-ray machine and you will walk through a metal detector. Assuming everything checks out, you’ll then head to the check-in station.

We all know that waiting in line to check-in for a flight is mind-numbing. On a cruise, it takes just a couple of minutes. You’ll see dozens of check-in agents working with passengers. Once you are called for your turn, you’ll set up your onboard spending account, get your room keycard and then board the ship.

In total, the security and check-in process shouldn’t take more than about 15-20 minutes. Then you’re ready to start your vacation.

Disembarkation

cruise in galveston

If you think people are excited to get on the cruise ship, then wait until the ship gets back home. Despite having a great time on the cruise, people are ready to get off the ship. 

The debarkation process actually starts the night before your cruise ends. At that time you will set any large bags you don’t want to carry with you off the ship in the hallway outside your cabin. The crew will pick the bags and they will be transported to the terminal for you to pick up after debarking the ship.

Many people instead choose to carry all their luggage with them as they get off the ship. The advantage is that those carrying all their bags are allowed to debark first. Unfortunately, so many people choose this option that it can cause long lines and still take considerable time to exit.

Once off the ship, you’ll make your way through the terminal and pick up any luggage you set outside your cabin. You’ll then go through customs and immigration to legally enter back into the United States.

One thing to note is that Galveston has moved to facial recognition, meaning you simply take a photo that’s verified instead of having to meet with an agent (if you have a passport). This makes the process of getting off the ship much faster . In some cases, we’ve debarked and barely had to stop before making our way out the terminal.

After immigration, there is one last spot to visit that’s unique to Galveston. The Texas Alcoholic Beverage Commission (TABC) collects fees for the alcohol and tobacco that you bring back into the country. If bringing these items, you’ll need to stop and pay the duty to TABC to legally bring your items back home.

Hotels Near the Port of Galveston

cruise in galveston

The bad news? There aren’t a ton of hotels right at the port (but there are a few). The good news? Galveston isn’t that large, so in reality every hotel is just a few minutes away.

The island has a wide variety of places to stay, from historic hotels like the Grand Galvez to modern-day hotel chains that are abundant on Galveston. There are also a few resorts with large pools, restaurants and more. No matter your budget of what you’re looking for, Galveston has something to fit your needs relatively close to the port.

Most Galveston hotels are along the Seawall. After the hurricane of 1900, the entire island was built up, with a protective barrier along the island facing the Gulf of Mexico. Today the main boulevard on the island runs along the Seawall, and hotels next to it offer unfettered views of the water.

There are also hotels on the mainland, just 15-20 minutes from the island. While these don’t offer the views or atmosphere of staying in Galveston, they can be affordable and convenient as they are on the way from Houston.

Galveston Hotels With High Ratings

  • Courtyard Galveston Island
  • Baymont by Wyndham
  • Comfort Suites Galveston
  • The Villa Bed & Breakfast
  • Grand Galvez

One thing to know is that a number of hotels in the area offer parking at their hotel while you cruise. So stay a night, and you can leave your car there for little or no cost. If you’re driving into the port and plan to stay the night, it’s hard to beat this deal. Click here to see our list of Galveston hotels with cruise parking .

Things to Do Near the Port

Galveston is a Texas tourist hotspot as it offers a lot to do and a completely different atmosphere than the rest of the state. The island isn’t that large (pop. ~50,000) and has a lot to do within just a few minutes of the cruise ship.

cruise in galveston

Pleasure Pier Jutting out into the water at the site of the old Flagship Hotel, the Pleasure Pier is a 1,000 foot long amusement park. On the pier you’ll find food, shops, rides, and even a roller coaster. Tickets cost about $30 for an all-day pass ($23 for those under 48 inches tall). It’s a great way to spend the day (or evening) if you are traveling with a family.

Galveston to Bolivar Ferry While there is only one main road on/off Galveston (Interstate 45), there is a free ferry that runs back and forth between the Bolivar Peninsula and the island. It’s a fun thing to do as the ride takes only about 15 minutes and gives great views of the bay.

The ferry runs 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, but the line can be backed up during the busy summer months. If you’d like to ride, simply park in the lot next to the ferry and walk aboard instead of driving. It will save you lots of time waiting for the boat. 

Schlitterbahn The famous Texas waterpark with several locations around the state has a park in Galveston. Here you can relax on a lazy river, get extreme on tons of different slides, and even surf a standing wave. There are also a number of options for all ages so whether you have a toddler or a teenager, they will find a lot to do at Schlitterbahn Galveston .

Moody Gardens If coming in from Houston, you’ll see three large pyramids on Galveston as you cross the causeway. This is Moody Gardens. It features a rainforest pyramid and aquarium, as well as other attractions that are all family friendly. It’s one of the major attractions on the island and a must-see if you have kids. ( Read our review of Moody Gardens here .)

Frequently Asked Questions

What Time Should I Schedule My Flight Home? We suggest people don’t schedule a flight before noon if flying from Houston Hobby and 1 p.m. if flying from Bush-Intercontinental. Cruise ships arrive early (around 6-7 a.m.), but it can take 2-3 hours for everyone to get off the ship. Then there is the time to get to the airport, going through security, etc. Leaving plenty of time before your flight will help you from feeling rushed to get to the airport.

For instance, we recently sailed from Galveston and foggy weather made us arrive late (9 a.m.) to the port. Then it took another hour before people started to get off the ship. We weren’t out of the terminal until close to 11 a.m.

Are There Cruise Parking Discounts? Yes, there are some discounts we’ve heard about and detailed here .

One thing we know is the EZ Cruise Parking offers a sharp discount of $15 off of a week’s cruise parking if you choose to park and walk to the cruise port. Because of access fees that the Port of Galveston charges parking lots to drop off passengers, the parking lots save money if they don’t have to provide shuttle service, and can pass the savings on to you.

What’s the Cheapest Way to Get to the Port? If you need a ride to the cruise port, then we suggest Uber/Lyft or an independent shuttle for most people (not the shuttles operated by the cruise line). Cruise shuttles offer roundtrip rides between the airports and the cruise terminal for as little as $50 per person. You can read more and get all the details on our Galveston port transportation page .

Popular: 39 Useful Things to Pack (17 You Wouldn't Think Of)

Read next: park & cruise hotels for every port in america, popular: 107 best cruise tips, secrets, tricks, and freebies, related articles more from author, galveston cruise parking (where to park): prices, profiles, & map, msc cruises sailing from texas starting 2025, galveston cruise parking discounts, coupons, and promo codes, carnival jubilee arrives in galveston; first new cruise ship to call texas home, ncl makes history with first seasonal sailing from galveston, texas, full list: galveston hotels with cruise shuttles to the port, 22 comments.

I will be dropping my friends at Terminal 28. What is the best street to take to get direct access to the drop-off area?

The entrance is at 23rd and Harborside. Follow signage to Terminal 28 (which is now renamed Terminal 2).

Help- can anyone tell me if I can walk from a nearby hotel in Galveston (1 mile away) directly onto Terminal 10 Royal Caribbean port? Besides the heat and walking a mile (I can do it), are pedestrians allowed to walk to the port and onto the port property? Thank you in advance for any answers!

Sure, you can do that.

We will be doing back to back cruises on both Royal Caribbean Harmony and Princess Regal. What’s the best way to get from Terminal 10 to Terminal 28 for our second cruise? We’re not interested in walking since we will have 2 suitcases. Is there a shuttle of some kind, and is Uber/Lyft interested in such a short trip?

Oh, that’s a tough one. Uber/Lyft will get you there, although it can feel strange taking such a short ride. What you might do since you won’t be able to board right when you get off the first ship is take an Uber/Lyft/taxi to somewhere else on the island (lunch, Seawall, etc.) and then take another when you are ready to board.

Can I do a walkon and buy a ticket in the terminal same day as the cruise or the day before?

No, that’s not possible.

I KNOW ROYAL CARIBBEAN ALLOWS YOU TO BRING ON TO THE SHIP A BOTTLE OF WINE. DOES ROYAL CARIBBEAN ALLOW A 6 PACK OF BEER TO BE BROUGHT ON

Let me know when you update with current info for new Royal terminal parking and that the trolley car will have a extension there also.

I live here and this Guide is pretty comprehensive. But you left out my favorite area that many cruisers love. The Strand Area. We have met many people who are going on a cruise or just came off of one. We have been coming to the Strand since the 1970s. Lots of history and architecture and nice shops.

Absolutely. (I was raised in the area too.) I should mention that and tell people to look for the Hurricane Ike waterline markers.

Will you be bringing the Wedding packages back?

YOU DIDN’T INCLUDE A LIST WITH CONTACT INFO FOR THE PARKING LOTS NEAR THE TERMINAL!!!!! Makes the entire article worthless don’t ya think?!

There is a link included to our parking page with full details:

https://cruzely.com/galveston-cruise-parking-options-prices-and-map/

What Avis car rentals are close to Port and is Uber available from that point to Port.

Looks like the closest Avis is in La Marque, about 25 minutes away. You can get an Uber from there to the cruise port.

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The 5 best cruises from Galveston for every type of traveler

Gene Sloan

What are the best cruises from Galveston, Texas ? I've been on all the cruise ships that sail out of the fast-growing cruise port (and visited all the places they go), and I know which one I would pick: A seven-night sailing on Norwegian Cruise Line's Norwegian Prima.

I'm a big fan of this new Norwegian vessel's stylish design and upscale feel, and I love its luxurious Haven suite complex. It also offers a solid itinerary out of Galveston that visits several of my favorite ports in the Western Caribbean.

That said, a seven-night Norwegian Prima sailing out of Galveston isn't necessarily the best Galveston cruise for you.

For more cruise guides, news and tips, sign up for TPG's cruise newsletter .

Whether you'll have a better time on one of the other seven cruise ships that regularly sail out of Galveston will depend a lot on the type of traveler you are. The best ship for a cruise out of Galveston with your family might not be your top pick for a couple's cruise or girlfriends' getaway.

Here we list our top picks for the best cruises from Galveston for five different types of travelers.

Best for families: Allure of the Seas

cruise in galveston

Looking for the best family cruise from Galveston? It's hard to go wrong with a sailing on Royal Caribbean 's giant Allure of the Seas.

Designed specifically to appeal to families, the world's fifth-largest cruise vessel is chock-full of more family-friendly activity zones than just about any other cruise ship at sea.

Thanks partly to its enormous size — it's 18 decks high and nearly 1,200 feet long — the 5,484-passenger Allure of the Seas has room for three separate main pool areas, a kiddie splash zone, surfing simulators, a miniature golf course, a basketball court and even a zip line. And that's just on its top decks.

Inside Allure of the Seas, you'll find all sorts of family attractions, including counselor-staffed play areas for kids, a teen club and an indoor ice skating rink. The ship also offers lots of family-friendly performances, such as ice skating shows at the rink and acrobatic and diving performances at an outdoor "Aquatheater." At the back of the ship, a New Jersey boardwalk-themed fun zone features rock-climbing walls and a hand-carved carousel.

In short, whether you have toddlers in tow or command a troop of teens and tweens, you'll find all sorts of activities to keep them squealing with delight — more than on any other ship that sails out of Galveston, including Disney Cruise Line's family-focused Disney Magic.

Related: The ultimate guide to Royal Caribbean cruises

Allure of the Seas sails out of Galveston every Sunday on seven-night voyages to the Western Caribbean. The ship stops at Roatan, Honduras; and Cozumel and Costa Maya, Mexico.

Note that in November 2023, Allure of the Seas will be replaced in Galveston with Royal Caribbean's slightly larger Harmony of the Seas. The two ships, both part of Royal Caribbean's groundbreaking Oasis class of vessels , are similar. However, the newer Harmony of the Seas has a couple more bells and whistles that will get your kids excited — most notably the Ultimate Abyss, a terrifying slide that drops nine decks. (Royal Caribbean says it drops 10 decks, but don't be fooled; the line is counting a nonexistent Deck 13.)

Harmony of the Seas also has a water park area, something that has yet to be added to Allure of the Seas.

If either of those two attractions is a must-have for your next cruise out of Galveston, you'll want to book the Harmony of the Seas sailings that start in November. Harmony of the Seas will operate the same itinerary as Allure of the Seas does now.

In addition, Royal Caribbean operates a second, smaller vessel out of Galveston: The 3,602-passenger Voyager of the Seas. The ship mostly sails four- and five-night trips to Mexico.

Best for Disney fans: Disney Magic

cruise in galveston

As noted above, our pick for the best family cruises out of Galveston are the sailings available on Royal Caribbean's Allure of the Seas. However, we say that with one big caveat: If your family is a Disney-obsessed family that can't imagine a vacation that isn't infused to the extreme with all things Disney, there is only one choice for your Galveston-based cruise: a voyage on Disney Magic .

Based seasonally in Galveston from December to April, Disney Magic offers the best cruises out of Galveston for the Disney fan. It is, for the record, the only Disney Cruise Line ship that sails from Galveston.

Disney Magic isn't a new ship. It dates to 1998 and is the oldest cruise ship regularly sailing out of Galveston. But it still feels modern, thanks to major makeovers in recent years.

One overhaul to Disney Magic not too long ago brought such cutting-edge features as the AquaDunk — a 37-foot-tall body slide that careens over the side of the vessel — and a new outdoor kiddie fun zone called AquaLab.

Disney Magic is also home to multiple pool areas and indoor children's zones that cover almost an entire deck, plus multiple themed restaurants that Disney fans will love. (In Disney Cruise Line tradition, passengers — and their waiters — rotate each night among three main restaurants.) The ship also has a large showroom for nightly Disney-themed shows.

Like all Disney ships, Disney Magic boasts many cabins with split bathrooms — a boon for families. That's not something you'll find on any of the other Galveston-based cruise vessels.

If you've tried Disney's newer Disney Wish or two Dream-class ships (Disney Fantasy and Disney Dream), you will notice that the 1,754-passenger Disney Magic is noticeably smaller — about 42% smaller than Disney Wish and 35% smaller than the Dream-class ships. That results in fewer and smaller attractions than the latter vessels. On the flip side, it has a much more intimate feel on board.

Related: The 3 types of Disney ships, explained

Disney Magic sails a mix of four- to six-night voyages from Galveston to Mexico. Shorter voyages typically visit Progreso, Mexico, while longer sailings add a stop in Cozumel.

Fares for off-peak sailings on Disney Magic often start around $800 per person for a four-night trip — significantly higher on a per-night basis than the lowest-cost sailings on many of the other ships sailing out of Galveston.

In other words, you'll pay a premium for that Disney magic.

Best for budget travelers: Carnival Breeze

cruise in galveston

Carnival Cruise Line 's Carnival Breeze is the Galveston-based ship to pick when you're looking for a quick and affordable getaway — something that isn't a big commitment and won't break the bank.

Based in Galveston year-round, the 11-year-old vessel operates short four- and five-night voyages to the Western Caribbean that are often on sale for under $500 per person or less. For off-peak travel, we sometimes see five-night sailings for sale for around $300 per person — or just $60 a night. This is a third of the cost of similar five-night sailings on Disney Magic.

Remember, the rates mentioned for Carnival Breeze above are not just for your room but for meals on the ship, too.

For would-be Galveston cruisers, Carnival Breeze serves as a sort of "test the port" ship. Its short sailings and low pricing mean you're not out a lot in time or money if you don't love the experience. It caters heavily to first-time cruisers, as well as Texas locals and Southerners who can book on short notice and drive to the port for a quickie escape.

One of three ships in the line's Dream class that date to the late 2000s and early 2010s, the 3,690-passenger Carnival Breeze is no longer the newest or snazziest ship in the Carnival fleet. At around 130,000 tons, it's about 29% smaller than Carnival's newer Excel-class ships and has fewer venues, from bars and restaurants to entertainment spaces.

Related: The 8 types of Carnival ships, explained

That said, Carnival Breeze still has a huge amount to offer for all sorts of travelers, from couples to families with kids. The ship was, notably, the first Carnival ship to feature a 4D "thrill theater" and one of the first Carnival ships with a ropes course, both attractions that appeal heavily to teens and tweens.

Carnival Breeze also offers a water park with waterslides on its top decks, a miniature golf course, a sports court for basketball and volleyball, and multiple pools.

Interior venues on Carnival Breeze include a comedy club, piano bar, casino and showroom for big production shows. The dining options are similar to what you'll find on many Carnival ships, including an extra-charge steakhouse and Italian eatery, Cucina Del Capitano, as well as no-extra-charge main restaurants. It also has a sushi restaurant and a version of Carnival's Caribbean-inspired watering hole, RedFrog Pub.

Most Carnival Breeze sailings out of Galveston stop at Cozumel, with some adding a stop at Costa Maya, as well.

Carnival has two other vessels based year-round in Galveston: Carnival Vista and Carnival Dream. Both ships operate longer, generally more expensive sailings. Carnival Vista mostly sails seven-night trips out of Galveston, while Carnival Dream alternates between six- and eight-night voyages out of the Texas port.

Best for luxury lovers: Norwegian Prima

cruise in galveston

There are no luxury-focused cruise lines, such as Silversea Cruises or Seabourn Cruise Line , sailing out of Galveston. Still, you can get a luxury cruise experience on a voyage from Galveston by sailing on the one mainstream vessel based in the city that has a separate "ship-within-a-ship" luxury zone: Norwegian Cruise Line 's new Norwegian Prima .

Hands down, the 3,215-passenger ship offers the best Galveston cruises for luxury lovers.

Unveiled in 2022, Norwegian Prima is the first of a new class of Norwegian vessel that the line has designed to be "elevated," in its words, as compared to earlier Norwegian ships. That is, it's designed to be more upscale.

The upscale turn included loading Norwegian Prima with an unusually large variety of suites (13 categories in all), including what the line says is the largest three-bedroom suites of any recently unveiled cruise vessel. If it's swanky digs you're after (and you have the money to spend), you'll find plenty of options on this ship.

Notably, the entire back of Norwegian Prima is devoted to an upscale luxury enclave for well-heeled travelers called The Haven. Rising eight decks high, it's home to 107 of the aforementioned suites, a sprawling private indoor lounge area, private outdoor lounge and pool areas, and a private restaurant — all exclusively for the use of those who pay up for one of its suites.

Related: The best cruise lines for elegance and exclusivity

Outside of The Haven, the entire ship has a more elegant feel than you'll find on other Norwegian ships. It has more of the feel of the ships you find in the fleets of Norwegian's higher-end sister brands, Oceania Cruises and Regent Seven Seas Cruises — albeit on a bigger scale.

Alas, Norwegian Prima only is based in Galveston seasonally for the winter, from December to March. It offers seven-night sailings to the Western Caribbean with calls in Roatan, Honduras; Costa Maya and Cozumel, Mexico; and Harvest Caye, Belize.

Best for retirees: Regal Princess

cruise in galveston

Looking for a cruise out of Galveston that isn't jammed full of families with children? Look no further than the sailings out of the city on Princess Cruises ' Regal Princess.

Unlike the other major cruise ships that sail out of Galveston each year — operated by family-focused Royal Caribbean, Carnival, Norwegian and Disney — Regal Princess wasn't built with families in mind as the core customer. As is the case with all Princess ships, it's more of a ship geared toward middle-aged and older travelers without kids, including lots of retirees.

Notably, the 3,600-passenger Regal Princess lacks nearly all the gee-whiz attractions for families found on the other ships that sail out of Galveston. You won't find big waterslides, kiddie splash zones, zip lines or go-kart tracks on this ship.

For the most part, the top decks of Regal Princess only offer pools, whirlpools and sunning areas, as is typical for Princess ships. As a result, it draws far fewer families than the vessels above and caters more to an older crowd of mostly couples.

Related: The best cruises for seniors who love to travel

Regal Princess is based in Galveston on a seasonal basis from November to March. It operates some of the longest sailings from the Texas port, including 10- and 11-night trips to Jamaica, the Cayman Islands, Honduras, Belize and Mexico. They're the sort of sailings that generally appeal to a retired crowd because these trips require a long time away from home.

The shortest sailings that the 10-year-old Princess Cruises ship operates out of Galveston are seven nights in length.

Bottom line

Galveston, Texas, offers a relatively wide range of choices for cruise ships and itineraries. Five different cruise lines sail four- to 11-night voyages that visit such Western Caribbean ports as Mexico, Belize, Honduras, Jamaica and the Cayman Islands.

What is the best cruise from Galveston for you? That'll depend on your personal interests and travel style, as there are cruises from Galveston that appeal to everyone, including family travelers, budget travelers and retirees.

Planning a cruise? Start with these stories:

  • The 5 best cabin locations on any cruise ship
  • The 8 worst cabin locations on any cruise ship
  • A quick guide to the most popular cruise lines
  • 21 tips and tricks that will make your cruise go smoothly
  • 15 ways cruisers waste money
  • 15 best cruises for people who never want to grow up
  • What to pack for your first cruise

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Cruises Out Of Galveston

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!

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. The fun doesn't have to begin when you set sail. Enhance your cruise vacation and kick back, relax, and explore the fun, historical and vibrant island of Galveston.

Aerial photo of a large white cruise ships sailing into Galveston, Texas

Resources for Galveston Cruises

Cruise Lines | Parking Lots | Cruise-Friendly Hotels | Itineraries

Aerial photo from the back of the cruise ship Allure of the Seas sailing on dark blue waters on a sunny day

The following cruise lines offer departures from the Port of Galveston:

  • Carnival Cruise Lines
  • Royal Caribbean International
  • Disney Cruise Line
  • Princess Cruise Line
  • Norwegian Cruise Lines
  • MSC Cruises

Gaidos Seaside Inn and parking lot overlooking the sea

Sailing from Galveston offers a convenient range of cruise-friendly hotels, some of which provide parking or shuttle services to the cruise port. Whether you opt for complimentary shuttles or those with a nominal fee, these accommodations ensure a hassle-free transition to your cruise adventure. While in Galveston, explore attractions like the historic Pleasure Pier and Moody Gardens, or relax on our scenic beaches. Don't miss the chance to visit The Bryan Museum for a dose of Texan history, making your Galveston stay an enjoyable prelude to your cruise getaway. Browse the list of cruise-friendly hotels in Galveston.

View from behind a wooden captain's wheel of a ship looking out at a large white cruise ship

Galveston Island offers the ideal opportunity to extend your cruise vacation with a variety of amenities and attractions just minutes from the harbor. Most cruise departures typically occur between 4 PM and 5 PM, allowing you to make the most of your time by enjoying the city's captivating offerings before setting sail. Whether it's exploring the historic district, relaxing on beautiful beaches, or visiting iconic attractions, Galveston provides a perfect pre-cruise playground to add extra enjoyment to your voyage.

sign for the Cruise line parking lot reading "Cruise Parking Express Lot" with a cruise ship in the distance

Ensure that your vehicle is parked safely for the duration of your cruise by choosing one of the trusted cruise parking companies located in Galveston. Many of Galveston's cruise parking lots offer discounts - check their websites below for the latest deals.

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Galveston, Texas

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Galveston (Texas)

Cruise port schedule, live map, terminals, news.

Galveston cruise port

Region Bahamas - Caribbean - Bermuda

Local Time 2024-05-12 18:32

Port Galveston cruise ship schedule shows timetable calendars of all arrival and departure dates by month. The port's schedule lists all ships (in links) with cruises going to or leaving from Galveston, Texas. To see the full itineraries (ports of call dates and arrival / departure times) and their lowest rates – just follow the corresponding ship-link.

Galveston is a port city spread over Galveston Island and Pelican Island, in Texas USA. The city's land area is approx 208 mi2 (539 km2), with population around 50,000. The city is within the "Greater Houston" metro area (Houston-The Woodlands-Sugar Land) with total population over 6,5 million.

By annual cruise shipping traffic (~1 million embarking passengers), Port Galveston is currently ranked USA's 4th busiest cruise port - an increase of 126% since 2010, when the homeporting business started.

Port Galveston TX

Port Galveston (locode USGLS) is located on mainland Texas' upper coast and on the island's eastern end. The port is at approx 9 mi (15 km) from the open sea (Gulf of Mexico). The Port Authority company (Board of Trustees of the Galveston Wharves) is city-owned, self-sustaining and doesn't receive city property taxes.

In 2017, Galveston was ranked the USA's 4th largest cruise port. In 2016, it generated US$58,4M in local passenger spending, plus US$19,1M in port-provided services. Cruise ship operations created 1232 direct local jobs. According to the Port's statistical data, Texas receives from cruise ship operations ~USD 1,42 billion per year (direct spending). The industry generates 25166 state jobs and ~USD 1,62B in income.

In 2022, the Port's cruise activities supported ~3500 jobs and generated US$568 million (local business revenue) and US$73,5 million (local purchases by cruise tourists/passengers and crew).

Bayport Cruise Terminal (Houston) is located in Pasadena Texas. The driving distance between Galveston and Houston is approx 50 mi (80 km), or ~1-hour drive southeast.

Port Galveston was established in October 1825, making it the oldest on the Gulf of Mexico. During the late-19th century, the seaport was considered to be the USA's 2nd busiest - after NYC New York . It exported most of the USA's cotton, also cattle and rice. Unfortunately, on September 8, 1900, the port was devastated by the "1900 Galveston hurricane". The storm (Category 4) had strong winds of up to 145 mph (233 kph) and resulted in 6000-8000 dead - ranking it the USA's deadliest hurricane disaster ever. Although recovered, the seaport's market position was soon overtaken by Houston and other deepwater ports on the US Caribbean coast.

Major contributors to the Port's current successful cruise business are Carnival Corporation and RCG-Royal Caribbean Group . Both are currently ranked the world's largest passenger shipping companies and both homeport here large-capacity liners for year-round roundtrip departures. Today, Port Galveston is one of the most successful Caribbean USA homeports.

  • On September 30, 2015, the port celebrated its 15th "cruise business" anniversary.
  • On September 30, 2000, the Carnival ship MS Celebration started here its first homeport itinerary.
  • In 2000-2015, the seaport handled a total of 2643 cruise ship calls (by 18 different vessels) and 7+ million passengers.
  • During season 2017, were handled 33 ship calls (all turnarounds/roundtrips) and 113,488 passengers. Port's previous record year was 2005 (29 ship calls). In December 2017 was welcomed the port's 9 millionth passenger - since Sept 30, 2000, when its cruising business started.
  • In 2018, CCL-Carnival Cruise Lines deployed in Galveston 3 boats ( Freedom , Valor , Vista ), with projected annual capacity 650,000+ pax. In 2018, here were also homeported RCI's boats Liberty OTS and Vision OTS .
  • On December 5, 2018, the port authority company (Board of Trustees of the Galveston Wharves) signed with RCG an MoU agreement for the development and concession of a new (Royal Caribbean) "Cruise Terminal 3" at Pier 10. The US$125M project was officially approved on December 11, 2019. The long-term (20-year initial) lease deal could be extended (via 4 consecutive 10-year options) up to 60-year exclusive terminal concession rights . Between 2003-2018, RCI brought to Galveston 2,4+ million tourists (annual economic impact ~USD 65M). Terminal 3 was opened on Nov 9, 2022.

The port also has facilities to handle cargo ships (bulk freighters and container carriers ) and dry dock facilities for marine vessel refurbishments and repairs . The port can handle all types of cargo - containers, dry bulk, liquid bulk, breakbulk, RO-RO (roll-on/roll-off) vessels. There is a terminal switching railroad to facilitate larger cargo movements by rail.

In August 2021, Galveston Wharves signed an MoU with Stabilis Solutions to build and supply LNG bunkering/shore-to-ship fueling facilities in 2021. The deal was signed by Rodger Rees (Galveston Port's Director and CEO) and Jim Reddinger (Stabilis' President and CEO). Galveston is the second (after Corpus Christi) LNG bunkering port served by Stabilis (2013-founded, Houston Texas -based turnkey LNG company, part of LNG Investment Company LLC).

Galveston cruise port

In the period 2000-2016, the port invested USD 85+ million in its cruise terminals.

In 2014, the Port served ~642,000 passengers, in 2015 were handled ~834,000 (28% increase). Galveston was one of the few in the USA with increased passenger shipping traffic in 2015 - the other being Miami , San Juan Puerto Rico , Seattle and San Francisco .

In January 2014, the port signed a 5-year agreement with Royal Caribbean, generating USD 1,86+ million in annual revenues. The agreement required improvements to be made to Cruise Terminal 2 (Terminal 28) to accommodate larger vessels and more tourists. Terminal 2's size was increased to 150,000 ft2 / 13,940 m2 (passenger capacity up to 1000) at the cost of USD 10M.

In February 2015, Carnival added the ship Freedom as its 3rd year-round boat (joining the fleetmates Magic and Triumph ) which increased CCL's year capacity up to 600,000 passengers.

In 2016 were handled 875,000 passengers. In 2017 the number grew to 950,000 (economic impact USD 2,3 billion) supporting 13892 local jobs. Direct spending is USD 1,2+ billion. Generated jobs are 20,000 (paying over USD 1,1 billion in total income). Cruise ship vacation-related spending in Texas is accounted for 6,3% of the industry's direct expenditures, and 5,6% of the industry's nationwide overall spending.

In 2016, Carnival homeported in Galveston 3 ships ( Breeze , Freedom , Liberty ). Royal Caribbean in 2016-2017 homeported year-round 2 ships ( Liberty OTS , Vision OTS ).

In August 2017 (25-27), the port was closed due to Hurricane Harvey's significant rains during the weekend. This affected the schedules of 4 liners (Carnival Breeze, Carnival Freedom, Carnival Valor, Liberty of the Seas). The port was shut down to all shipping traffic (cargo and passenger). Freedom and Valor were relocated to New Orleans , Breeze remained docked overnight in Cozumel, Liberty OTS was diverted to Miami .

In 2017 were handled a total of 258 ship calls and ~1,9 million passengers. In 2017, the port reported a record monthly cruise shipping volume (113,488 embarking passengers) on a total of 33 departures in December. The previous record was 29 turnarounds (December 2005). In Dec 2017, the port also celebrated its 9 millionth passenger.

For 2018, the cruise port had booked 308 ship calls, with estimated 2+ million passengers. In September 2018, Carnival repositioned here Vista - replacing Breeze and joining Valor and Freedom . Seasonally (2018-2019 / October - January) here were homeported 3x Carnival ships (Vista, Valor, Freedom), 2x RCI ships (Liberty OTS, Vision OTS) and Wonder . The Disney ship offers roundtrips in autumn and winter, then relocates (through Panama Canal) to Alaska for the summer.

On December 9, 2018, Port Galveston welcomed its 10 millionth cruise tourist since 2000, when its cruising operations started. The lucky man was Yingtao Liu, who arrived from Norman Oklahoma together with his parents, wife and 3 kids. Upon checking before boarding Carnival Vista , the family (all first-time cruisers) was greeted by Rodger Rees (port's CEO) and Pavol Drimaj (ship's Hotel Director). All family members received gifts, including a 3-night hotel package for Island Bay Resort, a basket with gourmet treats, a CVB-logoed gift bag and a Carnival-logoed beach bag with travel essentials. The cruise company also extended the family's standard onboard amenities with VIP services.

Port's current schedule has two liners leaving on Saturdays, two on Sundays, one on Mondays, one on Thursdays. The Disney ship leaves on Fridays. Every 2 years is conducted ship channel/waterfront dredging to maintain the port's required water depth of 45 ft (14 m). The shipping channel is also regularly deepened to maintain a 150-ft (46-m) wide waterfront marine zone that allows access to piers 10 and 41.

In mid-January 2019, Port Galveston signed an agreement with DCL-Disney Cruise Line extending the company's preferential berthing rights for additional 10 years (until November 1, 2028), with optional 2 renewals for additional 5-year periods. The deal also included building a new/shared cruise terminal with capacity to handle a vessel similarly sized or bigger than Disney's Magic-Wonder boats.

In 2018, the Port's cruise shipping grew by 13%, resulting in USD 1,5 billion in direct expenditures and 26241 supported Texas jobs (with total wages USD 1,75 billion). Galveston is Texas State's only homeport and was accounted for 6,3% of the USA's cruise industry overall spending, 6,2% of the industry's total employment impact, 7,6% of its income impact. In 2018, the port's passenger+crew arrivals were ~1,4 million (estimated USD 115M in ashore spending/goods and services).

In mid-November 2022, Galveston Wharves announced an MoU with Carnival Corporation, RCG-Royal Caribbean Group, CenterPoint Energy Inc (USA electric transmission and natural gas services), Shell Trading (UK), and Texas A&M University (College Station City TX) for potential solutions to develop shoreside power connectivity .

In 2022, the Port's cruise business supported 3500 jobs, and generated US$568M in local business revenue plus US$73,5M in purchases by cruise tourists (passengers and crew).

In 2023, the cruise port recorded 362 booked berthings (354 ship calls received) and ~42% increase in passengers (~2,98 million) over 2022. When completed, the newest/4th MSC Cruise Terminal is expected to generate an additional 925 jobs, ~US$177M in revenues, ~US$21M in local purchases.

On December 4, 2019, Port Galveston welcomed its 1-millionth cruiser - Mark Martin (from Mission Viejo CA). He and his wife (Laurie Steele) were booked on Enchantment Of The Seas for a 5-day Western Caribbean itinerary to Mexico (Costa Maya, Cozumel).

As part of the Port Access Program 2019-2020, in mid-July 2020, TxDOT (Texas Department of Transportation) awarded USD 3,75M "Rider 38 Grant" for the USD 5M project for building a new internal roadway between 14th and 20th streets. The balance (USD 1,25M) will come from the cruise port's operating revenue. Works on the project are planned to start in August 2021 and to be completed in 2022-Q4. The new road is a section of an internal roadway running (through the port property) from 14th Street to 53rd Street. In 2018, Galveston Wharves received USD 1+ million from Rider 48 for repaving, widening and installing drainage on OPIR-Old Port Industrial Road (between 29th Str and 33rd Str) as well as for repaving and drainage on 33rd Str (between OPIR and Harborside Drive).

For FY2020 (fiscal year) Port Galveston reported USD 2 million in revenue (despite the Coronavirus crisis) mainly by reducing expenses.

  • Grants and investments were USD 29M, expenses ~USD 27M ($11,3M in 2019). Seaport's operating income was USD 27,4M (40% from cargo shipping) including $7,2M from cruises (+parking).
  • Revenues also included $6M (lay revenues), $1,9M (real estate leases), $0,8M (other).
  • Projections for 2021 were for USD 37,5M (operating revenues) including $3M from cruise ships' lay dockage.
  • Suspension of ex-Galveston cruises resulted in huge losses for the state's economy and the cruise shipping industry-related businesses. Based on annual economic statistics, statewide losses in 2020-2021 were estimated at USD 1,2 billion (direct spending), USD 1,6 billion (wages), ~23,000 jobs.

In August 2022 was announced a US$33 million investment in cruise-related infrastructure improvements, including US$22M (pier repairs, site works, utilities, 1800-lots cruise parking) and US$11M (upgrades at Terminal 25 and Terminal 28). Terminal 28 now has 450 cruise parking lots.

In May 2023, Galveston Wharves announced an investment of US$53 million in Terminal 25's expansion in order to accommodate CCL'’s largest ship Carnival Jubilee (max capacity 6630 passengers) which homeporting was scheduled to start in December 2023. The project included adding two new gangways, a new ramp, two elevators, one escalator, new roofing, improvements of facilities (including Customs & Border Protection).

With 3x cruise terminals and increased passenger traffic (7+ million visitors annually), in 2022 Port Galveston started investing in infrastructure upgrades (expanding the interior roadway) to divert some of the traffic (away from Harborside Drive) and technologies like real-time traffic conditions and route updates (via mobile apps), more wayfinding electronic signboards, advance traffic notifications (for tourists with booked cruise parking), car license plate recognition (for automated cruise port parking entry and exit). The ~USD 20 million project also included the restoration and extension of the roads in the Old Port Industrial and Wharf. A direct road connection to highway I-45 can divert most of the cruise-related vehicle traffic directly to the Port.

In October 2023, Galveston Wharves received US$42.3 million in state funding for cargo terminals and road infrastructures.

  • A US3.85M (+US$1M port contribution) were allocated for the restoration of the in-port roadway (between streets 33rd and 41st) and reopening of the enclosed pedestrian walkway over Harborside Drive/Texas State Highway 275 (at 25th Street), which provides access to cruise port's terminals 25 and 28, as well as to the Shearn Moody Plaza Garage and downtown Galveston's Strand District. The project also included installing elevators and/or escalators at Terminal 25 and the parking garage.
  • US$2.5M (+US$0,655M port contribution) was used for the 4th section of the internal roadway to improve access to the West Port and divert cruise traffic from I-275/Harborside Drive and reduce downtown's congestion.
  • In March 2024 started the expansion of the Express Lot (park-and-walk road infrastructure adjacent to cruise terminals 25 and 28) to reduce traffic on Harborside

In November 2023 was announced a US$5.3M contract for engineering and architecture services for a new/fourth terminal at Pier 16.

On November 21, 2023, was adopted Galveston Wharves' 2024 budget, with projected US$37M in net income, US$72,5M in operating revenues (12% over 2023's), US$35,5M in operating expenses, and ~14% increase in cruise tourists (~1,6M).

For FY2023, Galveston Wharves Port reported revenues of US$67,4M (27,5% increase), a net operating income of US$24,5M (55,4% increase), received 1,490532M passengers/embarkations (+43,1%), 210665 cruise cars parked (+46,4%), and handled 3,6M tons of cargo.

Cruise itineraries from Galveston Texas

Follows a list of destinations visited by cruise ships leaving out of Galveston:

  • Most departures from Galveston are operated by liners from the fleets of Carnival , RCI-Royal Caribbean and DCL-Disney .
  • (Western Caribbean) 7-day to Honduras ( Roatan island ) and Mexico ( Costa Maya and Cozumel ).
  • (Western Caribbean) 7-day to Jamaica ( Montego Bay ), Grand Cayman ( George Town ) and Mexico ( Cozumel ). Another port of call could be Belize City .
  • (Eastern Caribbean) 7-day to Florida ( Key West ) and Bahamas ( Freeport , and Nassau ). Also can be visited the Bahamian private islands Half Moon Cay (Carnival), Castaway Cay (Disney) and CocoCay (Royal Caribbean).

(Western Caribbean) From Galveston are also offered Mexico-only roundtrips that visit Cozumel (4-days) and Cozumel with Progreso (5-days).

Galveston cruise terminal

The port consists of Pelican Island's southern side, Galveston Island's northern side and Galveston Bay's entrance. The Galveston Ship Channel's authorized min depth is 45 ft (14 m). Its width at the narrowest point is 1200 ft (370 m).

  • UN-LOCODE (United Nations location code) - USGLS
  • supported by excellent road, rail and air infrastructure
  • capability to accommodate 3 vessels at a time
  • deep water channel - min depth (45 ft / 13,7 m), narrowest point width (1200 ft / 366 m)
  • deep water berths
  • sheltered harbor area, direct access to Gulf of Mexico

The Port is accessible the whole year round - 24/7, 365 days a year.

Cruise ships usually arrive in Galveston in the late afternoon (4 or 4:30 PM) and depart from Galveston in the early evening (at 7 or 8 PM). Know that disembarking passengers must pay tax on alcohol and cigarettes imported into Texas (purchased either on the ship or at ports of call).

Port Galveston has 3 passenger terminals, all featuring modern and most efficient customer facilities.

"Cruise Terminal 1" serves vessels of Princess and Carnival .

"Cruise Terminal 2" is utilized by Disney , Celebrity and RCI-Royal Caribbean .

"Cruise Terminal 3" (2022-opened) is exclusive to Royal Caribbean.

Houston-Galveston fly cruisers information

Flight tourists boarding in Galveston fly into one of Houston's two airports - George Bush/Intercontinental (IAH) or the smaller William Hobby (HOU/served mainly by Southwest Airlines).

Galveston cruise port is approx 40 mi / 70 km from Hobby Airport (~60 min drive distance) and approx 70 mi / 110 km from Houston Airport (~90 min drive distance). For fly-cruisers is recommended to use rideshare (larger group travel) services. Lyft is Galveston terminal's exclusive rideshare company (pricing per vehicle /not per person) so Uber is not an option. Most Lyft vehicles fit 4x people (+ the driver). Taxis are also available from both Houston airports, but the prices are significantly higher (~twice) than the rideshare service.

Both Royal Caribbean and Carnival offer roundtrip shuttle bus services (between Galveston and both airports in Houston) with prices per person / similar to Lyft's. Independent shuttle services are provided by companies like Galveston Express, Galveston Limousine, Island Breeze Shuttle.

If the cruise ship itinerary's arrival time at Port Galveston is 6-7 am (debarkation day), passenger disembarkation is usually completed between 7:30-9 am. So the earliest home flight from Houston is recommended to be booked for 1 pm or later.

Cruise Ship Terminals 1 and 2

  • Pier 25/Terminal 1 address - "2502 Harborside Dr., Galveston, TX 77550"
  • Pier 27/Terminal 2 address - "2702 Harborside Dr., Galveston, TX 77550"
  • At Terminal 1 (pier 25) dock Princess and CCL-Carnival boats.
  • At Terminal 2 (pier 27) dock DCL-Disney and RCI-Royal Caribbean boats.
  • Embarkation: luggage must be unloaded at the terminal curbside prior to parking. Shuttles don't handle luggage during embarkation.

On November 30, 2016, the port completed a USD 13 million project that expanded the passenger area at "Cruise Terminal 2". Terminal's both buildings are now connected by an enclosed, air-conditioned walkway. The passenger area was increased from around 90,000 to 150,000 ft2 (8360 to 13950 m2). Seating was increased from 500 to 2000 seats, baggage holding-, customs- and waiting areas were expanded, and 16 more check-in booths were installed.

Terminal 2's expansion works started in 2014, financed by Royal Caribbean . However, construction roadblocks delayed the project with roughly a year. The expansion also included longer docking pier with extra bollards (short, vertical posts used for mooring). The dock project cost around USD 3,5M and was completed in 2017. The expanded Terminal 2 now has capacity to handle up to 5,000 passengers at a time.

In 2018, on Terminal 2's channel side were added new mooring structures (bollards) to allow docking of the longer Carnival Vista . The main mooring was upgraded with 200-ton bollards (metal posts for the mooring lines). The port is currently in the conceptual stage (designs) for building a new (3rd) cruise terminal as the demand for large vessels leaving from Galveston on the weekends is constantly growing.

(NEW) "Pier 10" Royal Caribbean Terminal 3

Cruise Terminal 3's address is "1028 Harborside Drive, Galveston, TX 77550"

On December 5, 2018, the port authority company (Board of Trustees of the Galveston Wharves) signed with RCG-Royal Caribbean Group an MoU agreement for the development and concession of a new ( Royal Caribbean-exclusive ) terminal.

The USD 125 million (~EUR 107M) project was approved on December 11, 2019. This is a long-term (20-year initial) lease deal that could be extended (via 4 consecutive 10-year options) up to 60-year exclusive terminal concession rights.

The new Royal Caribbean terminal is sized 14990 m2 (161300 ft2) and occupies 10 acres (4 hectares / 40500 m2) of land at Pier 10 (port's southeast section).

The design was developed by Bermello Ajamil & Partners Inc - the company that also designed the Royal Caribbean's Terminal A (PortMiami), Cape Liberty Cruise Terminal (New York City) and Terminals 18 & 25 (Port Everglades/Fort Lauderdale).

The new passenger terminal has a modern building (height 68 ft/ 21 m) and docking capacity to accommodate even Oasis-class liners (the world's largest ).

Cruise Terminal 3 features dedicated bus parking, taxi ranks, large car parking (1550 lots), facial recognition technology, mobile check-in service.

The construction works on "Terminal 3" were planned to start in April 2020, with scheduled completion in November 2021. However, due to the COVID crisis, in early-March RCG requested a 1-year extension for the construction's start (rescheduled for April 1, 2021). RCG's proposal was approved on April 28, 2020. The initial plans included in 2021 here to be homeported Allure OTS (starting November 10th), but the ship's homeporting was rescheduled for Nov 2022.

Works on Pier 10's Terminal 3 officially started on August 14, 2021. The groundbreaking ceremony was attended by Rodger Rees (Galveston Port Director and Galveston Wharves' CEO), Joshua Carroll (RCG's VP of Destination Development), Craig Mygatt (Ceres Terminals Inc's CEO), Craig Brown (City Mayor).

The project created ~400 construction jobs and ~400 permanent jobs.

RCI Galveston Terminal was initially scheduled for completion/inauguration on September 1, 2022, but was officially opened on November 9th. The new facility is co-owned (50-50) by RCG and Ceres Terminals Inc (provider of stevedore and terminal management services, part of Ceres Terminal Holdings LLC). Ceres currently provides for RCG similar services at Port Canaveral , Tampa , Port NOLA/New Orleans  and Baltimore .

Terminal 3 has an area dedicated to Suite-booked passengers, accessed via an exclusive entrance. The waiting hall is fitted with comfortable sofas, restrooms, vending machines.

(NEW) MSC Cruise Terminal (Galveston Pier 16)

In late-December 2022, MSC Cruises announced plans for homeporting in Galveston.

In 2023, MSC (world's 3rd-largest cruise shipowner) started negotiations with Galveston Wharves on a fourth/new cruise terminal, signing a non-binding MoU (memorandum of understanding) that outlined a potential terminal development and operation agreement for a new facility to be constructed at Port Galveston's piers 16-18.

The MoU was signed by Ruben Rodriguez (MSC Cruises USA's President) and Rodger Rees (Port Director and CEO).

The announcement made Galveston MSC's 4th American homeport - following Florida's Miami and Port Canaveral/Orlando ), and New York's NYC (since April 2023).

The MSC Cruise Terminal was included in Galveston Port's "20-Year Strategic Master Plan" listing major investments and maintenance projects to maximize assets, optimize all shipping-related business sectors and boost the state's economy with new jobs and more revenues.

In August 2023, the Wharves Board authorized US$673,000 for the proposed MSC Terminal's design and pre-engineering cost estimates.

In 2023, MSC had booked a record of 362 berthings/voyages out of Galveston.

On February 7, 2024, Galveston Wharves and MSC finalized the operating agreement for the new terminal complex. Starting in November 2025, in Galveston MSC inaugurates homeporting operations with the ship MSC Seascape .

The MSC Cruise Terminal complex at Pier 16 comprises a US$100 million terminal facility (docking infrastructure and building/former cargo warehouse), plus a US$42 million parking garage, and an internal roadway. Construction works were scheduled to start in 2024-Q1.

The project (funded with Galveston Wharves' cash reserves and revenue bonds). The terminal building is sized 165000 ft2/15330 m2. MSC will exclusively operate the facility under a 20-year concession agreement (2025 through 2045).

The 20-year terminal concession deal between Galveston Wharves and MSC is inclusive of 4 optional 5-year extensions. MSC was allocated a fixed cruise schedule while the Port retains the prerogative to receive at Pier 16 other cruise vessels, contingent upon availability.

Annually, Galveston's 4th cruise terminal is projected to support 925 new jobs and ~US$177 million in local business revenues (passenger fees and sales tax from parking).

(NEW) Pier 16 Cruise Terminal (4th)

On November 7, 2023, the Wharves Board signed a US$5.3M contract with Bermello Ajamil & Partners Inc (1939-founded engineering and architecture company/subsidiary of BAP Development Inc) for a fourth terminal at Pier 16.

Bermello Ajamil's services included the design of the building, one parking garage, one passenger boarding bridge, marine structure and civil improvements (dock area, access roads, utilities, surface parking).

Galveston's fourth/newest cruise terminal project was unanimously voted at the Board's October 31st meeting and was included in the Port's "20-Year Strategic Master Plan" (2019-adopted). It was also announced that the port and MSC are negotiating an agreement related to the Pier 16 Terminal.

In September 2023 the Board contracted Hensel Phelps Construction Co (1937-founded) for preconstruction services.

Construction works are planned to start in 2025-Q1.

The entire project is estimated to cost ~US$140 million.

Cruise ship terminal directions and parking

From East - take Highway 87. Board a Port Bolivar vehicle ferry. Exit the ferry onto Ferry Road (Highway 87). Turn right onto Harborside Drive, then continue to Kempner (22nd Street) - some 20 city blocks. Turn right onto Kempner (22nd Street) and follow the signs to the terminal (Pier 25 or 27).

From North or West - take Interstate 45 South, then Exit 1C, Follow the feeder road to Harborside Drive (Highway 275), then turn left onto Harborside Drive and for ~5 mi / 8 km to Kempner (22nd Street). Turn left onto Kempner (22nd Street) and follow the signs to the terminal (Pier 25 or 27).

Cruise Parking Rates (subject to change) - USD 45 (on 4-day cruises), USD 50 (on 5-day cruises), USD 70 (on 7-day cruises). Parking is guarded and lighted, with 24-hour surveillance and police patrol. The garage's phone number is 409 766-6100.

Debarkation: go directly to the Parking Lot to retrieve your car (without luggage). Then pick up passengers and luggage at the terminal curbside. Depart the terminal via shuttles. The service is provided only in parking lots with luggage drop-off signs.

If you plan to fly to Galveston, you will arrive at either Hobby Airport, HOU, or George Bush International Airport, IAH, you have to rent a car or take a cruise line shuttle. There is no public transportation to Galveston from the airports in Huston. Galveston Limousine offers service to Galveston cruise ship terminal for USD 30. Taxi fares are USD 100 from George Bush Intercontinental and USD 75 from Hobby Airport.

The port's cruise parking rate is US$11.25 per day (subject to change). Payment options are cash, VISA / MasterCard or to pay in advance on the port's website. Four-day cruise parking costs US$45, 5-day - US$ 46.25, and 1-week/7-day – US$78.75.

Royal Caribbean's new Cruise Terminal 3's parking lots (, South, and Pier 14) are priced US$22/day (North Lot) and US$20 per day (at South Lot and Pier 14 Lot).

independently owned/operated parking lots near Port Galveston are located near Terminals 1 and 2, but relatively far away from Terminal 3. Most lots are at ~10-min drive/30-min walk distance from the Port. Near the cruise port are the lots of EZ Cruise Parking, Galveston Park N Cruise, Falstaff Cruise Parking, Discount Cruise Parking.

Best-rated hotels near Port Galveston include Baymont by Wyndham, Springhill Suites by Marriott, Holiday Inn Express & Suites.

During you stay, Galveston can offer plenty of activities for any age. You can enjoy tropical rainforest adventure or rest at the sunny beach. If you prefer, you can visit amusement places near the Galveston cruise port terminal like:

  • Texas Seaport Museum
  • the Ocean Star Offshore Drilling Rig and Museum
  • the Moody Gardens
  • the Bishop’s Palace
  • the Stewart Beach Park

Galveston tours, shore excursions, hotels

City tours and shore excursions.

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15 top adults-only cruises for 2025 & 2026.

Pack your bags and leave the kids behind for your next cruise adventure.

Top Adults-Only Cruises

Six adults, drinking and laughing, at the Serenity Adult-Only Retreat on Carnival Cruise Line's Mardi Gras.

Courtesy of Carnival Cruise Line

If your idea of getting away from it all includes a vacation without the kids, consider booking an adults-only or adults-oriented cruise . While some lines provide a fully adults-only experience (i.e., children are not allowed on board), others offer adult-focused venues and activities on the ship to keep you separate from younger patrons.

The following cruise lines provide upscale amenities, immersive excursions, sophisticated dining options, lively nighttime entertainment and time for relaxation among like-minded – and similarly aged – travelers.

Find your perfect cruise

Viking Ocean Cruises

Viking Star Explorers' Lounge at night.

Courtesy of Viking

Travelers ages 18 and older are welcome aboard Viking 's adults-only ships, which feature destination-focused itineraries around the world. The line's 11 oceangoing ships carry between 930 and 998 guests (at double occupancy) and offer luxurious, comfortable Scandinavian-style spaces. The line will add Viking Vesta to its ocean fleet in 2025.

Viking's exploration program boasts special access to behind-the-scenes experiences curated for travelers who are interested in history, food, the arts or science. Immerse yourself in local culture with a visit to a traditional family farm near Bergen, Norway, or spend an evening dining on Chinese specialties at a home-hosted dinner in Shanghai .

In addition to these off-the-beaten-path excursions, guests can visit iconic sites like the ancient city of Ephesus (Kuşadasi) in Turkey and the Acropolis in Athens, Greece . Viking also hosts onboard enrichment programs like cooking classes and lectures by historians. Cruise fares include stateroom accommodations with a private veranda, all meals (including specialty dining venues), wine and beer at onboard lunch and dinner, 24-hour room service, one free excursion per port, complimentary Wi-Fi access, and access to onboard amenities such as the Nordic Spa and fitness center.

In addition to its ocean vessels, Viking offers river cruises in destinations around the world – including Mississippi River cruises aboard Viking Mississippi. The line also has two Polar Class 6 expedition ships, Viking Octantis and Viking Polaris, which traverse waterways from Canada, the U.S. and South America to remote destinations in Antarctica and the Arctic.

Virgin Voyages

Terrace jacuzzi on Virgin Voyages cruise.

Courtesy of Virgin Voyages

Virgin Voyages offers an adults-only retreat for guests ages 18 and older. The line currently has three sister ships: Scarlet Lady (the first in the fleet), Valiant Lady and Resilient Lady . The line's fourth ship, Brilliant Lady, is set to debut in September 2025.

All the ships in this adults-only cruise line feature 1,404 cabins (most with balconies) and RockStar Quarters suites, where guests have access to Richard's Rooftop, an exclusive outdoor deck space. The superyacht-inspired vessels boast 20-plus eateries, including restaurants by Michelin-starred chefs, and a variety of onboard fitness and wellness spaces. At Redemption Spa, relax and recharge in the mud room or salt therapy chamber – and then take rejuvenating dips in the hot and cold plunge pools. You can even order a bottle of bubbly anywhere on the ship via the Virgin Voyages app's secret "Shake for Champagne" feature.

Itineraries on Virgin Voyages span destinations in the Caribbean, Europe and Morocco, as well as trans-Atlantic crossings. The line will also feature 21 new ports across its global fleet in 2025, including destinations in Iceland, Turkey, Oman, Italy, Portugal, the Cayman Islands and more. Cruise fares cover meals at all the dining venues and basic beverages such as soda, water, tea and coffee. Gratuities for the crew, Wi-Fi access, entertainment and group fitness classes are also included. While on board, be sure to indulge in a swanky dinner at The Wake and an immersive show at The Red Room, a unique multiform theater at sea.

P&O Cruises

P&O Cruises ship at port at sunset.

Courtesy of P&O Cruises

Two ships in P&O Cruises' U.K.-based fleet – Arcadia and Aurora – are exclusively for adults 18 and older. Arcadia, the slightly newer of the two ships (debuted in 2005), carries 2,094 guests at double occupancy, plus 866 crew. The ship departs from Southampton in the U.K. and sails to a variety of European destinations, ranging from Spain and the Canary Islands to Norway and Iceland; some cruises visit the U.S. and Canada. The ship will also sail world cruises in January 2025 and 2026.

Arcadia's 15 restaurants, cafes and bars include Indian cuisine with a British twist at Sindhu, as well as steaks and seafood by renowned British chef Marco Pierre White at Ocean Grill. Passengers can take a class to sample the line's branded gins; sip Champagne at Intermezzo, the ship's cocktail and Champagne venue; or enjoy a pre-dinner aperitif at the yacht-inspired Spinnaker. After exploring exciting ports of call, head back on board to enjoy Arcadia's elegant interiors and top-notch service. You can splurge on a stone therapy treatment and a visit to the thermal suite at the spa for some extra pampering, followed by a live show at the three-tiered theater, The Palladium. Then, finish off the evening dancing the night away at The Globe.

Aurora is a slightly more intimate ship, carrying 1,874 passengers (double occupancy) and 850 crew members. A four-level atrium gallery sits at the heart of the vessel. Itineraries include destinations in the Mediterranean, the Baltic, the British Isles, Iceland, the Caribbean and South America. There are 19 restaurants, bars and cafes on the ship, including club-style restaurant Alexandria and casual spots like The Beach House. After dinner, live entertainment and dancing await you at the show lounge Carmen's, as do larger productions at the ritzy 660-seat Curzon Theatre.

Top Cruises Designed for Adults

While some all-inclusive – or mostly all-inclusive – boutique and luxury cruise lines are family-friendly, many of the onboard venues and activities are adult-by-design. Since there are few (or no) activities geared toward younger cruisers and no babysitting services, you typically won't find parents with young children on these ships.

Aerial shot of the Azamara ship sailing into the sunset.

Courtesy of Azamara

Azamara's four upscale boutique ships provide immersive travel experiences geared toward adults. These smaller ships – accommodating a maximum of 702 guests – sail waterways and rivers that larger ships can't access, docking in city centers and unique ports of call around the globe.

Many Azamara voyages also offer longer stays and overnights in port, unlike some competitors' itineraries. Some even feature special events, such as a 12-night voyage from Rome to watch the Monaco Grand Prix in May 2025, or a 25-night cruise in February 2025 from Buenos Aires, Argentina , to attend Carnival in Rio de Janeiro . In addition, the line is extending its offerings on Country Intensive voyages in 2024 and 2025 with itineraries in various continental European countries, the United Kingdom, South Africa, Iceland and Australia.

On board, you'll find a wide selection of casual and formal dining options ranging from Windows Cafe to the main dining room, Discoveries Restaurant. Specialty restaurant offerings include top-notch steak and seafood at Prime C and Italian fare at Aqualina. Atlas Bar is a unique venue on Azamara Onward (the line's newest ship), though its artisanal cocktail menu is also available on the line's other ships. Discoveries Lounge is another guest-favorite spot, and wine aficionados will enjoy pairing limited-production and rare vintages from the Wine Cellar with dinner.

Cruise fares include stateroom accommodations; select spirits, wine and beer; gratuities; 24-hour room service; and nonalcoholic beverages. You'll also have access to complimentary AzAmazing Celebrations with special evening and daytime events ashore and on the ship. You can purchase a package that includes additional amenities like unlimited Wi-Fi, specialty dining, shore excursion credits and other perks. Butler service and other extras come with suite accommodations.

Lumière restaurant on Scenic Eclipse.

Courtesy of Scenic

When it launched in 2019, Scenic Eclipse I was touted as "The World's First Discovery Yacht." The intimate vessel offers an all-inclusive, ultra-luxurious experience for just 228 guests (double occupancy). The line's second luxury yacht, Scenic Eclipse II, which is nearly identical to its sister ship, debuted from Lisbon, Portugal , in April 2023. The Polar Class 6 rating enables these two yachts to sail to destinations like Antarctica; on these expedition-style voyages, the ship carries only 200 guests and offers a nearly one-to-one crew-to-guest ratio.

All suite accommodations include a private veranda or terrace; butler service; state-of-the-art amenities; a king-size Scenic Slumber Bed; and an in-suite minibar stocked with wine, spirits and other personally selected beverages. You'll also find indulgences like onboard helicopters for intimate excursions and the line's submersibles for underwater exploration.

Guests can enjoy up to 10 dining experiences on the ship, including French fine dining at Lumière; innovative Asian flavors at Koko's Asian Fusion; Italian, steak and seafood specialties at Elements; or an immersive dining experience at Chef's Garden @ Epicure. When it's time for an after-dinner drink, sample craft cocktails or the impressive selection of whiskeys available at Scenic Lounge Bar. Other onboard activities include getting an invigorating treatment at Senses Spa or just relaxing with Champagne and spectacular views on deck 10 at the Sky Bar.

Scenic's ships sail to destinations in Australia and the South Pacific; Europe and the Mediterranean; Asia; the Americas and the Caribbean; and the polar regions of Antarctica and the Arctic.

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Regent Seven Seas Cruises

Deluxe Suite on Regent Seven Seas Cruises ship.

Courtesy of Regent Seven Seas Cruises

Following Seven Seas Grandeur's launch in December 2023, this line now has six luxury vessels in its fleet. Regent Seven Seas ' all-inclusive fares include round-trip business class or coach airfare (depending on the destination); complimentary pre-cruise hotel stays; two- or three-night land packages; all meals and beverages; free shore excursions; prepaid gratuities; and more. Seven Seas Grandeur is a sister ship to the elegant Seven Seas Explorer and Seven Seas Splendor ; it features 372 luxurious all-balcony suites and an impressive ratio of 548 crew members to just 744 guests (double occupancy).

In the evenings, diners can choose between French cuisine at Chartreuse; creative Asian fare at Pacific Rim; steaks and seafood at Prime 7; Italian dishes at Sette Mari at La Veranda; or design-your-own-entree options at the ship's largest specialty restaurant, Compass Rose. For a casual evening, plan to dine alfresco at the Pool Grill. Adults can also enjoy pre-dinner cocktails in one of the lounges and nightly entertainment at the Constellation Theater. For a nightcap, sip a fine cognac in one of the ship's favorite hideaways, Connoisseur Club. There are also plenty of options for exercise, fitness and relaxation at Serene Spa & Wellness.

If you're planning a once-in-a-lifetime adventure on the high seas, consider booking the Regent Suite. Situated on deck 14 – and boasting more than 4,400 square feet of indoor and outdoor space – this luxurious accommodation features an impressive balcony with a minipool spa, in addition to two bedrooms, a living room and dining room, and a private in-suite spa. Cruise fare for the suite also includes a long list of high-end amenities such as access to a private dining room called The Study, a personal car and guide in every port, free in-suite spa services, a complimentary cocktail party for eight guests, a private butler and more.

Regent's 2025-2026 Legendary Voyages include sailings to destinations like Barcelona, Tokyo and more. If a world cruise is on your bucket list, you can circumnavigate the globe for 154 nights beginning in January 2026 aboard Seven Seas Mariner.

Silversea Cruises

Veranda Suite on Silversea ship.

Courtesy of Silversea Cruises

Silversea's all-inclusive luxury ocean and expedition cruises offer voyages to more than 900 destinations across the seven continents. Silversea's 11 ultra-luxury ships and expedition vessels range in size from 51 to 364 suites and boast spacious ocean view accommodations – most with private verandas. Cruise fares cover door-to-door transfers from home to the ship, including airfare (business class in some destinations) and pre- and post-cruise hotel stays. On board, guests will have butler service, a nearly one-to-one ratio of guests to staff, 24-hour gourmet dining, premium alcoholic beverages, one complimentary shore excursion in each port, gratuities and more.

Silver Ray is set to become the 12th ship in the Silversea fleet when it debuts in summer 2024. The luxury vessel adds more open spaces and top-notch cuisine. Silver Ray is also the second vessel in the fleet to be powered by liquefied natural gas (LNG) and is billed as a more sustainable cruise ship.

Four of the line's ships are purpose-built expedition vessels that sail to the farthest reaches of the Earth, including Antarctica, the Arctic and Greenland, French Polynesia and the Pacific, Asia, and more. On these sailings, guests will experience immersive exploration with as many as 28 expedition staff per cruise. Unique upcoming itineraries visit Greenland and the Arctic Circle, as well as remote locales like Robinson Crusoe Island, Tahiti and more.

Seabourn Cruise Line

The Retreat on Seabourn ship.

Courtesy of Seabourn Cruise Line

Seabourn features an all-inclusive adult-focused experience on its five luxury ocean vessels and two expedition ships. One of the line's newest ships, Seabourn Pursuit, is an ultra-luxury Polar Class 6 purpose-built expedition vessel with 132 oceanfront veranda suites. The ship is equipped with two submarines for underwater exploration, kayaks and 24 Zodiacs. There's also a 24-person expedition team to assist guests with exploring far-reaching destinations like Antarctica, the Arctic, the Kimberley region of Australia, the Amazon and the Northwest Passage.

The new Seabourn Ovation accommodates up to 600 guests (double occupancy) and offers amenities found on most of Seabourn's ships: well-appointed oceanfront suites, living areas with dining tables, verandas and nearly a one-to-one staff-to-guest ratio. Guests can try Seabourn's new Mediterranean venue, Solis, on four of the line's ships, including Ovation. You'll also find health and wellness programs curated by Dr. Andrew Weil.

The Seabourn Conversations program is another highlight. Accomplished experts host adventures ashore, participate in meals and chat with guests on board. For a special treat, don't miss the Caviar in the Surf beach party. This event (available in select destinations) includes chilled Champagne, caviar, music and a barbecue set against a backdrop of white sand beaches and turquoise waters.

Windstar Cruises

Star Grill dining are on Star Breeze by Windstar Cruises.

Michel Verdure | Courtesy of Windstar Cruises

Windstar's six intimate ships accommodate between 148 and 342 guests. Passengers can choose between cruising on one of the line's three-masted Wind Class vessels or one of its three Star Plus Class ships.

Windstar just announced the addition of two new ships to its fleet; Star Seeker is expected to launch in December 2025, followed by Star Explorer in December 2026. These two vessels will feature 112 suites with private verandas and infinity windows, two Owner's Suites with wraparound balconies, a water sports platform, a two-story spa and fitness center, and more. The ships are constructed with ice-strengthened hulls that position them for exploration in remote destinations like Antarctica.

Windstar's adult-focused and casual – but still elegant – onboard experiences feature locally inspired top-notch dining, guest lecturers, a water sports platform on all ships, an open bridge policy and an engaging social environment. If you're looking for a romantic getaway, Windstar is also regarded as one of the most romantic cruise lines for a wedding, honeymoon , vow renewal or anniversary trip, especially in magical destinations like the South Pacific or Europe.

Windstar's smaller ships can reach ports, coves, harbors and villages that are not accessible by larger vessels. They also offer more than 2,000 immersive cultural experiences in port, many with small groups. You'll find culinary-themed voyages in partnership with the James Beard Foundation, as well as wine-focused itineraries around the world. What's more, Windstar's itineraries offer late evenings and overnights in its ports of call, allowing guests to experience local culture and cuisine after dark.

Windstar will begin sailing in South America in December 2025 with the 312-passenger (double occupancy) Star Pride, offering excursions to UNESCO World Heritage Sites like the town of Cusco , Machu Picchu and the Galápagos Islands .

Other Top Adults-Only Cruise Options

While these larger ships offer activities for families and children of all ages, adults can also find hidden retreats and venues just for grown-ups. These spaces are typically quieter and situated away from the crowds.

Celebrity Cruises

Aerial of pool and deck on a Celebrity Cruises ship.

Courtesy of Celebrity Cruises

Celebrity Cruises offers spaces created with adult guests in mind. On Celebrity Beyond and the newest addition to the fleet, Celebrity Ascent , adults can have a unique dining experience at Le Voyage by Daniel Boulud. The world-renowned Global Culinary Ambassador for the line, Daniel Boulud created the menu at this elegant venue, incorporating dishes inspired by his travels. You'll also find an impressive wine list to accompany your dining experience.

When it's time to relax, The Solarium is a popular adults-only area located on the Resort Deck of all Celebrity ships. This light-filled pool area encased by a glass dome is the perfect quiet space for reading a book or taking a nap. While there, you can also grab a light breakfast or lunch at the Spa Cafe and Juice Bar, or order your favorite cocktail while lounging in the hot tub.

Other adult-focused venues to check out on Celebrity Ascent, Beyond and Apex are the new elevated bar spaces. The Edge series World Class Bar – a popular spot on other Celebrity Cruises ships – features craft cocktails in a beautiful setting. And don't miss the two-story Sunset Bar on Celebrity Ascent, a reimagined space by interior designer and TV personality Nate Berkus. The aft location of the bar offers almost twice the space as previous iterations and beautiful wake views.

Princess Cruises

Lounging area on a Princess Cruises ship.

Courtesy of Princess Cruises

The Sanctuary, a retreat for guests ages 18 and older, offers an escape from bustling public spaces. The relaxing top-deck venue is available on all Princess Cruises ships and features plush lounge chairs, a spa-like setting and Serenity Stewards, who serve light bites and other refreshments. To fully unwind, consider reserving a private cabana, where you can book an open-air massage. The child-free venue varies from ship to ship, with some offering the exclusive Retreat pool, cabanas and a bar area, and newer iterations featuring more space.

Spellbound by Magic Castle is an exciting new venue aboard the line's newest ship, Sun Princess, for adults 21 and older. The collaboration with The Magic Castle private club in Hollywood offers guests an evening of magic, illusions and theatrical cocktails in a Victorian-inspired space.

If you're heading off the ship for an excursion to Princess Cays (the cruise line's private island in the Bahamas), plan to chill out for the day in an adults-only Sanctuary Bungalow. Located just minutes from the ocean and beach, the rentals accommodate four people, and the price includes two complimentary float rentals. You can also order a gourmet picnic to enjoy while lounging on shore.

Back on the ship, adults can reserve a spot for the line's new Winemaker Dinners, a partnership with Caymus Vineyards. These 12-guest evenings are offered fleetwide, two to three times during each cruise. Winemaker Chuck Wagner personally selected the wines from the notable Napa Valley winery to pair with the elevated five-course menu.

Carnival Cruise Line

Serenity Adult-Only Retreat on a Carnival Cruise Line ship.

The Serenity Adult-Only Retreat is located on all of Carnival Cruise Line 's ships. Access to this tranquil outdoor hideaway is complimentary for passengers 21 and older. While there, guests can enjoy relaxing loungers, daybeds and whirlpools. Take in the warm sun and ocean breeze with a signature sangria in hand, or stop for a healthy meal at the Fresh Creations salad bar (available on select ships) for an alfresco lunch.

Disney Cruise Line

Lounge area on a Disney Cruise Line ship.

Courtesy of Disney Cruise Line

Though Disney Cruise Line tends to attract families and younger travelers, it also offers multiple spaces and activities for adults 18 and older. Disney's newest ship, Disney Wish , boasts several luxurious adults-only venues featuring characters and scenes from "Beauty and the Beast."

For top-notch steaks, contemporary Italian cuisine and panoramic ocean views, make a reservation at the Cogsworth-inspired Palo Steakhouse. If you prefer French-style fare and world-class wines served in an elegant and shimmering setting, Enchanté by three-Michelin-starred chef Arnaud Lallement is the perfect place for a romantic dinner for two. Before dinner at either venue, enjoy a signature cocktail at The Rose. After dinner, you won't want to miss the galactic libations and ever-changing views of faraway galaxies at the adults-only Star Wars: Hyperspace Lounge bar.

Depending on the ship, adult travelers can also dance the night away in a trendy club, watch live entertainment or a cabaret show, catch a sports game on satellite TV, or relax with an after-dinner cocktail at a bar or lounge. Outdoors, the kid-free Quiet Cove Pool is a tranquil place to relax on all the ships. For even more pampering, Senses Spa & Salon boasts treatment rooms with ocean views, luxurious spa villas and other amenities. On Castaway Cay, Disney Cruise Line 's private island, adults can head to Serenity Bay – a scenic, adults-only stretch of the beach.

Norwegian Cruise Line

Spice H2O beach club on Norwegian Cruise Line ship.

Courtesy of Norwegian Cruise Line

Norwegian Cruise Line has three adults-only outdoor venues for guests 18 and older (though specific spaces vary by ship). On Norwegian 's Bliss, Escape, Getaway and Breakaway ships, the Vibe Beach Club sun deck invites guests to relax in oversized hot tubs and comfy daybeds, adding perks like a full-service bar and chilled towels. Guests can enjoy two-story beach clubs on Norwegian Joy and Norwegian Encore, while the clubs on Norwegian Prima and Norwegian Viva include the line's first infinity hot tubs. You can purchase a multiday pass in advance for the club, and cabana rentals are available for more privacy.

At Norwegian Epic's two-level Posh Beach Club, complimentary perks include fruit skewers, cold water spritzers and a snack menu. Multiday passes are available to all adult cruisers, while travelers who book a Haven suite can access Posh Beach Club for free. Spice H2O is another adults-only venue on the Norwegian Bliss, Joy, Escape, Getaway, Breakaway, Epic, Star and Spirit vessels; access is complimentary. At night, the space becomes an open-air dance club where you can spend the evening partying under the stars.

Royal Caribbean International

The Solarium on the Spectrum of the Seas, Royal Caribbean International.

Michel Verdure | Courtesy of Royal Caribbean International

Solarium is Royal Caribbean International 's complimentary, child-free space open to guests 18 and older. Located at the front of every ship in the fleet, this indoor-outdoor oasis (or indoor-only on Quantum Class ships) offers impressive vistas and endless views of the sea. Thanks to a full glass canopy over the interior space, adult passengers can enjoy quiet lounging areas, swimming pools and whirlpool tubs with a view, no matter the weather. Select ships feature a cascading lagoon for further relaxation.

Be sure to grab a tropical cocktail or zero-proof drink at Solarium Bar (or Sunshine Bar, on Quantum ships) to sip poolside while enjoying the ocean vistas. Guests of both bars must be at least 21 years old when sailing from North America or a minimum of 18 when departing from South America, Europe, Asia, Australia and New Zealand.

Adult cruisers (18 and older) can relax and chill out at the first suspended infinity pool at sea at The Hideaway on Royal Caribbean's newest ship, Icon of the Seas. The beach-vibe neighborhood, perched eight stories above the sea at the back of the ship, features Champagne cocktails, a DJ spinning tunes, full-size daybeds, a wraparound bar, and endless ocean and sunset views from the multilevel terrace.

Frequently Asked Questions

"Adults-only cruise ships – or adults-only spaces on cruise ships – have become increasingly popular over the years," says Chris Gray Faust, executive editor at Cruise Critic. "That's not only because fewer people are having families. It's also because parents themselves often want the chance to get away, either by themselves for a romantic trip or with friends to celebrate a special occasion, girls' or guys' weekend, or milestone birthdays."

"I seek out adult spaces on cruise ships primarily because I want my experience on a ship to mirror my life on land – a little quieter, with more sophisticated food and drink options," she explains. "I also appreciate the opportunity to connect with my friends who are parents in a space where we can have personal one-on-one conversations or let loose a bit with some drinks. Adults with children are more than just their kids, after all – and they also appreciate a space where they don't have to worry about their little ones."

Anne Scully, a partner at the luxury travel company EMBARK Beyond, says, "With so many cruise lines and sailings, it's always a good idea to have options – and adults-only cruises are very popular." She adds, "Viking and Virgin have always focused on adults-only cruises and most river cruises also cater to adult passengers."

Adults-only cruises are designed with guests ages 18 and older in mind, from the staterooms and dining venues to the onboard entertainment and shore excursions. What you typically won't find on board are water or theme parks, climbing walls, game rooms, and restaurants serving kid-friendly foods.

If you're looking for a relaxing, fun and romantic vacation without the kids in tow – and you don't want to deal with the other passengers' children on your getaway – consider booking a sailing specifically for cruisers at least 18 years old. Alternatively, select a cruise line or ship that caters to mostly adults and doesn't offer any services, kids clubs, babysitting or activities for children.

You don't have to be a kid to be a Disney Cruise Line fan. While the line does not have an adults-only vessel within the fleet, there are plenty of kid-free spaces for adults only. Adults can enjoy cocktails, dinner and entertainment in several venues and relax at designated pool areas on the ship. There's also private, adults-only stretch of beach, Serenity Bay, on the line's private island, Castaway Cay.

In addition, Disney offers one of the best programs to keep youngsters entertained at sea, so you'll find that many of the children hang out in the kids club during the day and in the evening. These club spaces are divided by age groups, and they're typically open until midnight or 1 a.m. so parents – and even adults without kids – can enjoy a night out on the ship sans kids.

Why Trust U.S. News Travel

Gwen Pratesi has been an avid cruiser since her early 20s. She has sailed on nearly every type of cruise ship built, including the newest megaships, luxury yachts, masted sailing ships, river ships in Europe and Vietnam and Cambodia and an expedition vessel in Antarctica. She covers the travel and culinary industries, specializing in cruises, for major publications including U.S. News & World Report.

You might also be interested in:

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Where can I cruise without a passport?

At TPG, we always recommend cruising with a passport, but there are many reasons why you might want to set sail without one.

What if an opportunity pops up on short notice, and you don't have a passport yet? Or what if you forgot to renew yours when it expired? What if it's only a three-night cruise to the Bahamas, and the passport application fee is almost as much as the cruise fare? Or, maybe you have children nearing age 16 and can't justify paying for passports that will only be good for five years.

First of all, do you even need a passport to cruise ? The answer is often but not always. You have options to cruise without a passport because not every sailing requires them. Thanks to an international agreement called the Western Hemisphere Travel Initiative , U.S. citizens can cruise on certain itineraries within North American countries using government-issued identification (like a valid driver's license) and proof of citizenship (like a government-issued birth certificate).

The cruises that you don't need a passport for are closed-loop sailings, which depart from and return to the same port within the U.S. One-way sailings from one U.S. port to another or from a U.S. port to a foreign one would require a passport.

For more cruise news, reviews and tips, sign up for TPG's cruise newsletter .

Before we go further, let's clarify that when we talk about cruising without a passport, we're referring to pricey passport books that some travelers do not wish to purchase. Passport cards can also be used for identification when cruising in all the places we are about to discuss; these cards are a low-cost alternative to traveling with your driver's license and birth certificate.

Let's look at the options for where you can cruise without a passport.

Cruising to Alaska is one of the easiest ways to experience all the state offers. You'll have opportunities to see glaciers and wildlife; stroll the streets of charming coastal towns; eat your fill of local crab legs and salmon; and enjoy nature on a kayak, zip line or hike.

If you're interested in cruising to Alaska without a passport, look for itineraries that begin (and end) in Seattle , San Francisco or southern California ports, such as Los Angeles or Long Beach, California. The most common length for these closed-loop Alaska cruises operated by the major cruise lines is seven nights. Cruises early or late in the season might be only four or five nights, and trips departing from LA are usually 14 nights.

What if you really want to cruise one-way from Canada to Alaska (or vice versa)? Although Canada prefers U.S. citizens who arrive by sea or land to have a passport book, it is not required as long as they have proper identification and proof of citizenship. The U.S., however, requires one of the following WHTI-approved forms of identification for entries by land or sea: passport card, enhanced driver's license, I-872 American Indian card or trusted traveler program IDs like Nexus, Sentri and Fast.

Technically, if you have one of those forms of ID but not a passport book, you can take a one-way Alaska cruise — as long as you don't have to fly to or from Canada.

More complications arise for non-passport holders who book shore excursions that involve crossing from Alaska to Canada. White Pass and Yukon Route train rides are good examples. White Pass and Yukon Route allows cruise passengers to go on the three-hour train excursion without a passport but doesn't allow them to take any longer routes. That's their policy, not a legal requirement.

This means that Alaska cruises are one instance when the passport card would be a handy alternative to traveling with both an ID card and a birth certificate. It opens up one-way itineraries.

Related: The best Alaska cruise for every type of traveler

A cruise to the Caribbean transports you to tropical islands bathed in turquoise waters. Whether you seek warm beaches, cool drinks, water sports or cultural education, you can find a Caribbean cruise to fit the bill.

It's easy to cruise without a passport in the Caribbean: Just book one of the many closed-loop, round-trip sailings departing from a U.S. port. Most major cruise lines offer sailings that range between three and 15 nights from ports like Galveston, Texas; New Orleans; multiple ports in Florida (including Miami and Fort Lauderdale); Charleston, South Carolina; Baltimore; Bayonne, New Jersey; and New York City.

Most Caribbean islands participate in the WHTI, but it's always best to check the details specific to the ports of call included in your itinerary. Don't forget that islands such as Puerto Rico, St. Thomas, St. John and St. Croix are U.S. territories, so visits never require passports for U.S. citizens.

Related: The best Caribbean cruises for every type of traveler

Bermuda is a British Overseas Territory, lying 643 miles off the coast of North Carolina. Hop on a cruise ship for a direct route to the island's famous beaches and golf courses. Spring and summer are the prime seasons to visit, but cruises are possible throughout the year.

Cruising without a passport to Bermuda is also easy. Apart from a few isolated cruises stopping in Bermuda as they come or go from other destinations, there are no one-way Bermuda cruises to confuse the situation. If you plan to sail without a passport, be wary of any Bermuda cruise longer than 10 nights. Those are likely to be point-to-point cruises that happen to include Bermuda.

Passport-free cruises to Bermuda include ample five- to 10-night sailings from the East Coast ports of Baltimore, Bayonne, Boston and Manhattan. Occasional itineraries also pop up throughout the Bermuda season departing from Norfolk, Virginia; Charleston; and the Florida ports of Miami, Port Canaveral (near Orlando) and Jacksonville.

Related: Does it make sense to take a short cruise to Bermuda?

Long known for delightful strands of beach and access to every imaginable form of water fun under the subtropical sun, the Bahamas are the ideal destination for easy and quick cruise vacations.

Skip the passport on three- to five-night Bahamas cruises sailing round-trip on most major cruise lines from the eastern Florida ports of Jacksonville, Port Canaveral, Fort Lauderdale's Port Everglades and Miami.

A few longer, seven- to 15-night itineraries stop in the Bahamas on their way into the Caribbean. Departures from Bayonne, Manhattan, Baltimore and Charleston will often get you weeklong Bahamas itineraries, as will sailings from Tampa, Galveston and New Orleans.

Related: Best Bahamas cruise tips for first-timers and repeat visitors alike

Our southern neighbor boasts two coastlines of cruise fun. Like most tropical cruise destinations, the top draws are the beaches and the ocean; however, cruise ports in Mexico also give you access to ancient Mayan ruins, delicious cuisine and an abundance of land activities.

Mexico's Caribbean and Pacific coasts are both accessible to cruisers who do not hold passports. If you want to visit Mexico's eastern shores, you can find three- to 15-night cruises to Costa Maya, Cozumel and Progreso. Sailings depart Florida from Miami, Tampa, Fort Lauderdale and Port Canaveral; you can also find itineraries from New Orleans, Galveston and Mobile, Alabama.

Western Mexico, often referred to as the Mexican Riviera, includes the ports of Cabo San Lucas, Puerto Vallarta, Mazatlan and Ensenada, among others. Cruises with several major lines depart San Diego, San Pedro port in LA and Long Beach for voyages lasting anywhere from three to 10 nights.

Related: The best Mexico cruises for every type of traveler

From water sports to American history and Hawaiian culture, there's a lot to experience on a Hawaii cruise . The best part might be the ability to hop from island to island, sampling the flavors of each as you go.

Closed-loop Hawaii cruises that don't require passports come in two varieties. The short option is to fly to Honolulu and take a seven- or 10-night cruise on Norwegian Cruise Line 's Pride of America. This is the only large cruise ship allowed to operate entirely within the Hawaiian Islands without visiting a foreign port.

Small-ship cruise operator UnCruise Adventures also offers seven-night, inter-island Hawaiian sailings. The American-flagged ships only cruise to and from U.S. ports, so no passport is needed, as would be the case on any domestic trip.

The long-cruise options consist of 14- to 18-night round-trip sailings from San Diego, LA (Long Beach and San Pedro) and San Francisco. You won't need a passport for these closed-loop sailings, but you do need to be prepared for multiple days at sea as you cross the Pacific from California to Hawaii.

Beware of 20-plus-night cruises that are round-trip sailings from the West Coast and would seem to fit the bill for closed-loop cruises that don't require passports. Most of these cruises don't work because they also include stops in French Polynesia, which is outside of the WHTI agreement. Passports are required for the islands in the South Pacific, which means they're required for the entire cruise.

Related: The best Hawaii cruises for every type of traveler

Canada and New England

Cruises up North America's East Coast allow you to take in historical sights of early Americana, stand atop rugged cliffs on the coast of Nova Scotia or revel in the French culture of Quebec.

Mainstream cruise lines operate numerous cruises along the U.S. and Canadian coasts that don't require passports. These depart from the ports of Bayonne, Baltimore, Boston, Manhattan, Brooklyn and occasionally Norfolk. The majority of these New England and Canada cruises are weeklong fall sailings; however, a handful depart at other times of the year or are a touch longer, ranging from eight to 10 nights.

Related: The best cruises to Canada and New England

Some cruise lines also offer one-way cruises in both directions between Canada and New England. These itineraries, like Alaska cruises, might be possible without a passport book. This is the case as long as your plans don't include flying into or out of Canada and your cruise line allows you to cruise with either a passport card or other acceptable form of identification and proof of citizenship.

We checked with a few lines for you. Princess, Holland America and Celebrity all strongly recommend passport books, but they allow one of the WHTI forms of identification. Again, the passport card opens up one-way possibilities, assuming you aren't flying and your cruise only includes Canada and the U.S.

Bottom line

While cruising with a passport is always recommended, it's not required by law in certain circumstances. Closed-loop cruises from U.S. ports that visit Bermuda, Canada, the Caribbean and Mexico are part of an international agreement that allows U.S. citizens to cruise without a passport. In these cases, government-issued identification and proof of U.S. citizenship are acceptable alternatives to a passport book.

Passport cards are an affordable and unquestionable alternative to carrying an ID and birth certificate. If you want to go this route, know they are not valid for travel by air into or out of any foreign country, including Canada, Mexico, Bermuda or Caribbean countries — which is the primary reason most travel advisers urge cruisers to have a passport book.

As we've shown, you have plenty of options for where to cruise without a passport, and many travelers do so without incident. However, anything from engine trouble on your cruise ship to bad weather or an accident in port might necessitate a flight home from a foreign country. This would put you in an awkward position if you didn't have a passport.

Plus, as much fun as simple round-trip cruises are, passports open up additional vacation possibilities in the form of longer, point-to-point and overseas trips. Don't dismiss registering for a passport, even as you consider where you can cruise without one.

Planning a cruise? Start with these stories:

  • The 5 most desirable cabin locations on any cruise ship
  • A beginners guide to picking a cruise line
  • The 8 worst cabin locations on any cruise ship
  • A quick guide to the most popular cruise lines
  • 21 tips and tricks that will make your cruise go smoothly
  • Top ways cruisers waste money
  • 12 best cruises for people who never want to grow up
  • The ultimate guide to what to pack for a cruise

Editorial disclaimer: Opinions expressed here are the author’s alone, not those of any bank, credit card issuer, airline or hotel chain, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any of these entities.

The Disney Wonder cruise ship sails past glaciers in Tracy Arm Fjord as part of its Alaska itinerary. Nestled between 3,000-foot high granite walls, the narrow, twisting Tracy Arm Fjord weaves through the Tongass National Forest for roughly 35 miles. (Diana Zalucky, photographer)

IMAGES

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  2. Galveston Cruise Port: Essential Guide for Your Cruise

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  3. GALVESTON.COM: Cruising from Galveston Island

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  4. Galveston (Texas) cruise port schedule

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  5. Here are all the cruises sailing out of Galveston this summer

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  6. Guide to Cruises Out of Galveston

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