The fast-growing Port of Galveston is taking steps to ease the flow of traffic to and from its busy cruise terminals, making it easier for cruisers to access the port, park their cars, and make their way to their terminal.

The port, now the fourth-busiest in the US in terms of cruise arrivals, has seen significant expansion in recent years and is building its fourth cruise terminal.

While the glamour of cruising always gets the spotlight, the behind-the-scenes activity at major ports of call is a complicated piece of the industry most cruisers happily ignore. However, port officials continually look for ways to improve access, traffic flow, provision delivery, parking, and other key processes.

At Galveston Wharves, the location of three cruise terminals in the Texas Gulf Coast city, officials are set to expand use of the best practices at the newest terminal, Cruise Terminal 10, to its older terminals, 25 and 28.

In his most recent update message on March 13, 2024, Galveston Wharves Port Director and CEO Rodger Rees pointed to several big changes the port will make to Terminals 25 and 28, and implement at Terminal 16, which is under construction and slated to open in late 2025.

First, the Cruise Terminal 10 complex, home to Royal Caribbean ships, was designed with on-site cruise parking, which cuts down on traffic on Harborside Drive, a busy, five-mile stretch of road that connects the port to Interstate 45.

Galveston Cruise Port (Photo Credit: BUI LE MANH HUNG)

On-site parking enables cruisers to drop off their luggage then park nearby. That is not the case currently at Terminals 25 and 28, where mainly off-site lots are available. It means cruise guests make two trips along Harborside Drive, first to drop off luggage, and then again to drive to the parking lot, where they wait for a shuttle to return them to their terminal.

Under the new plan, the port will expand its park-and-walk Express lot, located adjacent to Terminals 25 and 28, allowing more guests to park on-site. The new Cruise Terminal 16 will have two on-site parking lots, one in a parking garage and another with surface parking.

A second change coming to the port addresses the problem of cars lining up to drop off luggage or wait to enter the parking lots for Terminals 25 and 28. At Cruise Terminal 10, multiple lanes are provided inside the complex for these purposes, preventing traffic back-ups on Harborside Drive. 

Going forward, more traffic lanes will be added on the access road to the two terminals, and a new traffic flow will be implemented.

Read Also: Cruises from Galveston: The Pros and Cons

Photo: Carnival Cruise Line

The port also will take aim at managing the presence of the provisioning trucks that deliver food and other supplies to cruise ships on turnaround days. The trucks, typically large tractor-trailer style, can hinder the traffic flow into the port.

One solution port authorities are considering for Terminals 25 and 28 is to direct the trucks to a more remote access road, where they would wait their turn to pull up to a terminal for unloading.

The Port of Galveston is growing rapidly, and in January 2024 posted the highest profits in its history, with net incoming soaring 55.4% over the previous year. The port welcomed 1.49 million cruise arrivals in 2023 and is on track to receive 1.6 million in 2024.

In 2023, the port, in partnership with Carnival Cruise Lines, made more than $50 million in improvements to Terminal 25 in preparation for homeporting the line’s new ship Carnival Jubilee.

Earlier this year, it reached an agreement with MSC Cruises to build Terminal 16, which will be the home port for MSC Seascape starting in November 2025. The 5,200-guest whip will be the first in the MSC Cruises’ fleet to be based in Texas.

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