The 5 best cruises from Galveston for every type of traveler – The Points Guy

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.
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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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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