6 Easy Houston to Galveston Cruise Transport Options (Uber, Shuttles, Taxis, & More)

Heading from Houston to Galveston for a cruise? You’re not alone.

Roughly two decades ago Galveston wasn’t even a cruise port. It served only as an industrial port. Today it’s the busiest port for cruise traffic outside of Florida. Now, each year more than a million passengers embark from the island.

Galveston has blossomed into one of the most popular cruise ports in the country. Still, there is the challenge of getting to the port. We cover all the transportation options below.

Many of those people fly into Houston from all around the United States to set sail. What surprises many of them is that Galveston is actually quite far from the Houston airports.

In fact, the cruise port is about 40 miles from Houston Hobby (HOU) and about 70 miles from Bush Intercontinental (IAH). Depending on traffic, it can take 1-2 hours to get from the airport to the cruise port.

The good news is that a number of services offer transportation between the airport and the cruise port.

The bad news? There’s no “cheap” way to get back and forth. Plan to spend at least $100 round-trip, depending on how large your group is and which airport you fly into.

We’ve outlined all your options below.

Houston to Galveston Cruise Transportation Options

Round trip prices between Houston airports and the Port of Galveston. Note that prices can change. Uber/Lyft and taxi rates are by the car. Other rates are per person.

So which method of getting to the port is right for you? Here is more information and our suggestions.

Rideshare | Uber & Lyft (Recommended)

For most people, rideshare companies like Uber and Lyft makes the most sense on getting to Galveston. You can request a car when you arrive at the airport, and it’s a fast, easy way to make your way to the island. It’s also one of your cheapest options, unless you are traveling solo.

Estimated fares from Hobby are in the $120 range, round trip. If you are flying into Bush Intercontinental on the north side of Houston, the estimated fare is $160 round trip. The price you pay (and the length of your ride) will often depend on traffic along I-45 to Galveston.

Keep in mind that this price is for up to four people in a single car — not per person. There are also larger cars available if traveling with a larger group or if you have a lot of luggage. Uber and Lyft serve both of the Houston airports and can drop-off/pick-up at the Galveston cruise terminals, so you can be let out and picked up right at the ship.

Note: If you are new to Uber or Lyft and plan to use them, you should download the app before you leave home for the cruise port. There is some account setup that you’ll need to do, and you don’t want to try to do this at the airport after you arrive.

Independent Shuttles (Recommended)

Seeing a need in the market, a number of shuttle services have popped up that provide rides to and from the Houston airports and the Galveston cruise port. While other options are cheaper for most parties, if you are traveling with a larger group then the shuttles can be a deal.

Expect to pay around $65 to $95 round trip, per person. It’s obviously a little more expensive to get to Galveston from Intercontinental compared to Hobby given the greater distance.

Galveston Express: Offers both shared or private service between the airports and the cruise ship. The cheapest option is shared service, costing $65 per person round trip from Houston Hobby and $75 round trip from Bush Intercontinental. There is a $5 discount if you are a senior (55+) or for children under 10 years old.

Galveston Limousine: This company has limousine in the name, but does offer shared service from the airports to Galveston, departing roughly every hour. Book online ahead of time and the rate is $56 round trip per person from Hobby and from Bush Intercontinental (normal rates are $100/$120). That discounted rate makes this company the cheapest among the independent shuttles.

Island Breeze Shuttle: This shuttle service charges rates of $150 round trip for two passengers between Hobby and the cruise ship. Additional passengers cost extra. Rates run $190 for two passengers needing transport from Intercontinental on the north side of Houston. Want to save a little money? The company has discounts for seniors ($5 off) and for military (10%) if booking round trip.

Taxi Cab

Taxi cabs at Port of Galveston
You can catch a cab between the airport and Galveston, but they are expensive.

Traditional taxi cabs are widely available at Houston airports. Rates for a round trip between Bush Intercontinental Airport is between $370 based on signage at the port. If you fly into Houston Hobby, which is considerably closer to Galveston, the rates is about $220 round trip.

These rates are higher than many other services but keep in mind that several people can ride for that price. This can make taxi cabs cheaper than some shuttles on a per-person basis. As well, you have the flexibility to make stops on the way to the port to pick up any last-minute items you might have forgot. You also don’t have to wait for a shuttle to fill up or share your ride with anyone else.

Cruise Line Transfer Shuttles

Cruise lines offer transportation to passengers sailing from Galveston. In general, however, they are more expensive and less flexible than other transportation methods.

Cruise lines offer services that will pick you up at the airport and take you to the cruise ship (and vice versa when it’s time to go home).

The benefit is that you are in no danger of missing the ship. If there is traffic or a breakdown, the cruise ship won’t leave without the passengers taking its cruise transfer service. Still, it’s rare that the issue ever comes up, and in our opinion isn’t worth taking a cruise line transfer to the port.

Transfers provided by the cruise line are restrictive and expensive. For one, they only leave at certain times. You may have to wait on the bus at the airport until it’s ready to depart. As well, it’s a direct ride to the cruise port. If you need to stop off on the way to the ship to get some last-minute items, that’s not possible.

In addition, rides are available only on the day of your cruise. If you fly in a day early for your cruise, then you’ll need to find other transportation.

Finally, there is the cost. For example, Carnival charges $42/$59 each way between Hobby/Intercontinental. Other cruise lines charge similar rates. A family of four traveling back and forth between Intercontinental and the Galveston cruise port will spend $472 just getting to and from their cruise from Bush-Intercontinental.

For that reason, we suggest other modes of transportation from to Galveston, unless you are traveling in a small group.

If you still want to know about transfers from your cruise line, simply click on the name of your line to see their options:  Carnival | Royal Caribbean | Disney | NCL

Other Services (Car Rentals | Private Cars)

Car Rentals: Want to have the freedom to explore Galveston on your own? A car rental is a good idea. This way you always have transportation — including from the airport to the Galveston cruise port.

Only Enterprise has a lot on the island, so you will need to rent with them if you plan to drop the car off in Galveston. However, sometimes they won’t allow one-way rentals from the airport (it still doesn’t hurt to check).

Every major car rental company is at the Houston airports. If you can find a decent rate, it’s possible to rent the car for the entire length of your cruise and just pay to park during your trip (parking costs start around $100 per week).

You can search for rental cars to the island below:


Private Cars: Private cars are another option. There are numerous private car/limo services around the area that are happy to pick you up anywhere in the region and drop you off at the cruise port. These services are certainly great if you want to travel in style, but aren’t always the cheapest way to get to the cruise ship.

There are dozens of services that provide private cars, and costs can range from $150 round trip to several hundred dollars, depending on the car you wish to use. While the headline price may be higher, it is often cheaper to go this route when dealing with larger parties.

We can’t list all of the private services, but what follows are some of the more popular ones. If you search around, you might find others that have lower prices for the specific level of service you’re looking for.

Companies offering transfers from Houston airports to the Galveston terminal: Galveston Shuttle, Karr LimousineElite Limousines, Elite Town Car Services.

Frequently Asked Questions

How long does it take to get from the airports to the Galveston cruise port?
As we mentioned above, both Intercontinental (IAH) and Houston Hobby (HOU) are a considerable distance from Galveston. In good conditions it takes about 1.5 hours to get from Intercontinental to the island and 45 minutes from Hobby to the cruise port.

We suggest allowing at least two hours and one hour in travel time between the two airports and the cruise port, respectively, to allow for traffic.

What’s the cheapest way to get from Houston to Galveston?
The absolute cheapest way to get from Houston to Galveston depends on the number of people you are traveling with. If traveling solo, then taking an independent shuttle that charges per person will be the least expensive way between the airport and cruise port.

However, most people travel with between 2-4 people. In that case, Uber or Lyft will offer the lowest rates as they charge by the car, not by the person. You can fit several people in the same car for the same price. They also have the advantage of being available on call, instead of waiting for a shuttle to depart.

Is there public transportation between Houston and the Galveston cruise port?
While the Houston/Galveston metro area is home to millions, public transportation options are practically non-existent. There is no viable public option to get from the airports to the cruise ships and vice versa. You’ll need to use a service like those listed above to get to your cruise.

More on Cruising From Galveston

Galveston Cruise Parking —  Driving to the port? Not sure where to park? We prices and profiles of all the lots near the cruise terminal.

Galveston Park & Cruise Hotels — Getting in late? Leaving early? Simply need a place to rest your head? We’ve rounded up the options for places to stay near the port, including those with park and cruise packages.

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

6 Easy Houston to Galveston Cruise Transport Options (Uber, Shuttles, Taxis, & More)


  1. Hello, We are sailing on March 31 and arriving at IAH on March 30th. We are a family of four with 17 year old boy/girl twins plus one is bringing a friend for a grand total of 5. We arrive at IAH at 11:00pm. Considering the late arrival we thought it would be best to stay near the airport and travel to Galveston in the AM. We are looking for a hotel that has a shuttle from the airport to the hotel after 11:30pm (many indicate that the last shuttle is 11 or 11:30 which I don’t think we will make in time). We also don’t know if we should get two rooms (1 for the 3 boys (guys) and one for the two girls (ladies)). We don’t have a budget but want a reasonable price. It would be nice if it had a pool but not necessary since we will likely only sleep there for a few hours and leave. Decent beds and cleanliness is a must. Any hotel recommendations? Secondly, we are hoping to take an uber or lyft from the hotel to the port. Do you think we will find transportation that will fit 5 people with 5 full size suitcases and at least 3 carryons? Thank you!

    • There is a hotel at IAH (Marriott) if you can’t find a hotel with shuttle at that time of night. Honestly, there are so many hotels around IAH that someone has to have a 24-hour shuttle if you call around.

      Regarding Uber/Lyft, five people is no issue with the “XL” services, but 8 bags is a lot to bring. I don’t know that even a large SUV would carry that much. I’d suggest breaking that into two different cars. There are also the shuttle services that might make things easier. You’ll have to catch them from the airport, but if you end up staying at the onsite hotel, that’s no big deal.

  2. We will arrive to Houston early. We will plan to Uber/Lyft with our family of 5. We will have lots of bags for a 1 week cruise. I am curious if it’s possible to leave our luggage somewhere and go enjoy the pier area at Galveston while waiting to board our ship? Has anyone ever done this? Would this require another Uber back to the cruise port after we’ve enjoyed the pier area or is it walking distance? Thanks.

    • There is a spot where you can store bags by the port called The Cruise Stop (https://thecruisestoponline.com/). Not sure what you’re calling the “pier area” as there is the Strand which is near the cruise piers. The Cruise Stop is right there as well.

      There’s also the Pleasure Pier on the Seawall, which is across the island. In that case, you would need an Uber to get back and forth.

      • It was Pleasure Pier I was thinking of. I was thinking we could Uber from the airport, drop our bags at the Cruise Stop then have the Uber take us down to Pleasure Pier until closer to time to board the ship. Then we’d need to Uber back to the ship. That would be pretty cheap from Pleasure Pier correct? Please let me know if I’m understanding correctly as that’s likely what we will do. Thanks of your reply!

  3. We are planning to arrive in Houston and rent a car to drive to Galveston the day before our cruise. We are planning to take Uber from the hotel to the port and when we return from the cruise we were planning to take Uber to a rental car place and drive back to Houston or take Uber from the port to the airport. Does that sound reasonable or do you have a better idea? Thanks

    • Just depends on the cost you’re paying for the rentals. If it’s less than an Uber from Houston to Galveston, then good idea (or if you are going to used a rental car for exploring a bit).

      If the cost is similar and you’re just going straight to/from the port, we’d prefer to just Uber or take a shuttle so that you don’t have to worry about dealing with a rental or driving.

  4. I arrive at Houston international on Nov. 26 with my wife.
    Our cruise leaves on Nov.27.
    We have a hotel reserved in Galveston.
    Best opition traveling from airport to our hotel the night before.
    Would like to spend less than $100 for a one way trip.
    Any ideas

  5. What do you think the chances are of making a flight departure time of 10:18 AM out of IAH from a Cruise that is supposed to end at 7AM? Thanks.

    • I think that’s cutting it too close. It’s at least 90 minutes to the airport given the distance. And just because the ship returns at 7 a.m. doesn’t mean that people are allowed to disembark at that time.

  6. Hello,

    I read your “Galveston Cruise Terminal 10 Sailing Guide” (very helpful). In it you said: “You should know that Lyft is allowed to pick up at the terminal, but Uber is not.”

    Based on your response to Pamela, is this still the case or has that changed?

  7. Hi! My boyfriend and I are leaving for our cruise with RC in two days. We booked our flight through the cruise line and it comes with complimentary shuttle service. Do you know what terminal that royal shuttle service uses at the Houston (IAH) airport? Our flight gets to Texas at 10:56 AM so we want to make sure we know where we are going and are quick!

    Thank you!

    • Not sure on that one. Did the cruise line not send some information regarding transportation or a phone number to call when you arrive?

  8. Arriving at IAH airport the day before the cruise. We would like to be stay in Galveston the night before the cruise to be close. any suggestions for a reasonable hotel for 6 people. 3 REAL adults, and 3 teenage grandkids,

    • Check out our hotel pages for Galveston. Not sure of your budget but keep in mind that rates are higher on most weekends!

  9. My husband and I will be cruising in Feb. 2022 from Galveston. I have very limited mobility in my left hip and use a walker to help me get around. We are spending the night before the cruise in a hotel in Galveston where we can also leave our car during the cruise. I need to know if Uber and/or Lyft can pick us up at the hotel and take us to the area at cruise Terminal 2 where the Porters can take our luggage. I’ve researched the shuttles hotels use and they drop you off at certain places and then you have to manage getting your luggage to the area where the Porters are. That won’t work for us because my husband can’t handle getting all the luggage to the Porter area by himself. Thank you for assisting us with your answer.

    • Yes, Uber/Lyft should be able to drop you off right at the terminal. Many shuttles are charged by the port for access, meaning it costs money to drop you off right at the terminal. To our knowledge this doesn’t apply to rideshare or personal vehicles.

  10. Thank you so much for the time you took to list all of the very useful information. Just one quick question. We fly in a day early, are there any hotels close around you would recommend? Thank you, Kristina and Bobby

    • Flying in early is always a good idea. Not sure of your budget, but any of the name-brand hotels on the island should be fine. If you want something high-end, look at the Tremont House (right by the cruise port) or Hotel Galvez (Seawall). Both are historic local hotels that many people love.

  11. I would like to use Uber or Lyft from Hobby airport to Galveston for cruise. I have an original I phone and it won’t let me download their apps. What else can I do?

    • Unfortunately you have to download the app. Are you traveling with another person? Can they download on their phone?

  12. Thanks for sharing this. Any updates on using Uber here? I know sometimes the dropoff at the Houston airport is challenging because they’d rather give the space to the cabs. Curious if the dropoff is any better?

  13. how do i request a uber to pick me up from ship ahead of time , so i know who is picking me up and what they drive


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