Texas cruising made history yet again. From a tiny port that first started serious cruising in 2000, the Port of Galveston has grown into a powerhouse serving five cruise lines across three terminals, with hundreds of departures annually and seeing more than a million passengers each year.
One thing the port had yet to see, however, was a completely new ship homeporting from the island. That’s changed with the arrival of the brand-new Carnival Jubilee.
In a major win for Texas cruising, Carnival will sail Jubilee from Galveston until at least 2026. And while cruising from the island has grown by leaps and bounds in the past two decades, this is surprisingly the first time a new ship from any cruise line has called Galveston home.
Jubilee arrived in port for to much fanfare. A welcome celebration was held Wednesday morning with hundreds of people arriving early to cheer on the arrival at the pier.
And if you need any clue that this ship was always aimed to make its home in the Texas market, look no closer than the enormous Texas star that adorns its bow. This is a unique mark you won’t find on any other Carnival ship.
As well, the cruise line announced other “Texan” touches as it settles into its home. Notably, each cruise will have a “Lone Star Tailgate” on the pool deck — a three-hour event with music, games, and giveaways. Music from Texas artists will even be played in areas around the ship.
Carnival has already had a big presence in Texas for years. Jubilee will join Carnival Breeze and Dream, meaning the cruise line will now have three ships sailing regularly from Galveston with plans to add more ships. Carnival Jubilee, however, marks something far different than those other ships.
For one, the ship is part of Carnival’s Excel class, its largest series of ships with sister vessels like Mardi Gras and Carnival Celebration. All told, the ship measures about 180,000 gross tons and carries roughly 5,300 passengers at double occupancy.
But Jubilee isn’t just larger. The ship includes a number of features not found outside of this class of vessel.
Jubilee offers multiple pools, more restaurants (such as ChiBang! and Rudi’s Seagrill), a full waterpark area, and yes the famous BOLT! roller coaster atop the aft section of the ship. Grand Central serves as a welcome plaza when boarding, along as a main hub of the ship during the day. At night, the area offers live shows as a multi-function space. New bar concepts like The Golden Mermaid and Dr. Inks, Ph.D. (“Drinks,” get it?) are found on Jubilee, along with favorites like Guy’s Burger Joint, RedFrog, and Alchemy Bar.
In other words, if you’ve sailed other Carnival ships than the Excel class, the vibe and atmosphere is still the same, but the experience will be something completely different.
The Port of Galveston has also invested in a number of improvements to welcome the new ship. In total it invested $50 million in improvements to Cruise Terminal 25 where Jubilee will berth.
This includes not just the ability to handle larger ships but also a complete interior renovation, sprucing up the exterior, dock improvements, and expanding the amount of express parking spaces near the terminal where passengers can simply park and walk to the ship.
Carnival Jubilee sails its inaugural cruise on December 23. The ship will then sail regular one-week cruises to Costa May, Cozumel, and Mahogany Bay (Roatan).