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Galveston, Texas

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(Reposting from a thread started by a member planning an Amtrak trip to Galveston in order to catch a cruise ship.)


I am a semi-regular volunteer at the Galveston Railroad Museum, which is located in the former Galveston Union (railroad) station. It also serves as the Galveston terminus for the Thruway bus to Houston, Nacogdoches and Longview which connects to/from the Texas Eagle. Amtrak passengers are welcome to wait inside and use the restrooms in the museum during operating hours (normally 10a-5p summer and weekends; 9a-4p weekdays in the off-season). We have many passengers connecting to and from cruise ships; one terminal is literally a block away from the museum while the other terminal (which Royal Caribbean normally uses) is about three or four blocks farther away. The bus drivers are generally familiar with the needs of cruise ship passengers and I've never heard of someone being left.


The "24 hour advance notice" applies mainly to last-minute passengers; they need to make sure that the drivers know to expect you. If you have made your reservations in advance you do not need to reconfirm from the ship; you will be on the driver's manifest. When connecting southbound from the Texas Eagle you should be able to check your luggage "through" but you will need to claim it in Longview and put it on the bus for the trip south. Traveling north from Houston I have always been able to check my luggage but originating in Galveston you will probably not have the opportunity to check it in either Houston or Longview due to the 45 minutes before departure check-in requirement.


Have a good trip, and if you have a few extra minutes to spend the collection at the Galveston museum is worth the price of admission. Enjoy!




A few more thoughts....


The Houston/Galveston throughway bus is a full size, restroom equipped intercity bus. The times I have ridden it the driver played (forgettable...Paul Blart Mall Cop?) DVD movies. (OK, so National Treasure 2 wasn't so bad....) The stop in Nacogdoches is made at a truck stop and is generally about 20 minutes long; long enough to visit a real restroom and pick up some refreshments for the remainder of the trip. The stop in Houston is made at the Amtrak station; while there isn't much in its vicinity there are restrooms and vending machines if you just must have something more to snack on. (Make sure that the driver knows you'll be in the station....)


The museum/bus stop in Galveston is located at the head of The Strand, a very popular historic district with a number of bars, shops, cafes, and restaurants. It's safe and walkable day and night. My own "must-see" on The Strand, aside from the Museum, is La Kings Confectionary two blocks up the street...an old-fashioned ice cream parlor and candy factory which makes the best banana splits and ice cream sodas in town.


If you decide you would like to spend a night in Galveston before or after, the Tremont House is just two blocks from the Museum. It's an upscale Wyndham property; a bit pricy but very nice inside. Their rooftop bar overlooking the harbor is "not to be missed" if you're in town at sunset.


For lunch I always recommend Star Drug Store a few blocks south of The Strand on 23rd St. While no longer a working pharmacy, it does have its original old-fashioned lunch counter serving sandwiches, burgers, and ice cream treats which rival La Kings.


If you make a day of The Strand, be sure and stop in to see Galveston's "tall ship", the 1877 sailing ship Elissa.


The Galveston beaches are always attractive but you will need transportation to them from The Strand. If you are staying at the Tremont House or its sister properties the Harbor House or the Hotel Galvez there is a shuttle van which runs between them, but on a rather irregular schedule. (Hotel Galvez is just across Seawall Boulevard from the beach.) Otherwise you're looking at a taxi or renting a car.


If you do rent a car consider a visit to Moody Gardens, which is a destination resort towards the west of the island with a number of attractions. It's also very close to Schlitterbahn Galveston, a major water park.

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Transportation between Houston and Galveston:


Another AU member has asked me to look into transportation options between the Houston Amtrak Station and Galveston. When arriving from the north on the Texas Eagle, the Amtrak Thruway bus from Longview which makes stops in Nacogdoches (at a truck stop) and at the Houston Amtrak Station en route directly to Galveston is the obvious choice. When arriving from the west on the Sunset Limited the Ambus is also a good choice; when departing to the west on the Sunset it might also be workable if you can stand to cool your heels for five hours in and around the Amtrak station (I recommend heading under the freeway to Landry's Downtown Aquarium attraction and restaurant). This leaves the problem of connecting with the Sunset Limited to/from the east.


There are several companies which provide shuttle transportation between Houston's airports and Galveston, mainly to and from the cruise terminal...search on "Galveston Limo Service" or "cruise transfers from Houston to Galveston" for the full list. For the most part they operate only to and from the major airports of Hobby (HOU) and Bush Intercontinental (IAH). So the question is, how do you get from the Amtrak station to the airport for less than a small fortune?


The first option which came up was to use SuperShuttle. It looks as if they will transport two passengers in a shared ride vehicle from 902 Washington Avenue (the address of the Houston Amtrak station) to Hobby Airport for $29. Optionally, you can use a private luxury sedan for $70, or one of several larger vehicles for a commensurate fee. For comparison, the flat rate zone taxi fare from the Amtrak station to Hobby Airport is $26. That's according to Yellow Cab...they told me it's considered to be in Hobby's Zone 2. The driver might try to tell you it's in zone 3 (it's right on the border) and charge you $38.50; caveat emptor. Once you get to Hobby Airport, by cab or SuperShuttle, the last Galveston Limousine shuttle to the island departs at 7:00 p.m. Unfortunately, the westbound Sunset is not scheduled to arrive in Houston until 6:18 p.m...and you certainly can't count on an early arrival! So, if your objective is to arrive in Galveston from the east, you'd better plan on staying a night in downtown Houston and doing the Galveston shuttle the next morning (Galveston Limo has six scheduled departures from Hobby every day).


Departing from Galveston to the east the situation is a little better; either the 6:00 a.m. or 7:30 a.m. departures from Galveston should get you to Hobby Airport in plenty of time to catch a taxi (extra $1.25 fee for departing from the airport) to the Amtrak station in time for the noon departure of the eastbound Sunset. Unfortunately, it's highly unlikely you can plan on disembarking from a cruise ship in time to catch a 7:30 shuttle on your day of arrival. You might possibly be able to make the 9:30 shuttle (from Galveston) work if everything goes right; just be advised that as of this writing about five miles of the Gulf Freeway is torn up for construction work. The smart thing to do is plan an overnight in either Galveston or Houston (or both) if you're trying to use Amtrak to depart the area to the east.

Edited by ehbowen

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