Galveston, TX, serves as the cruise port for Houston and is located 50 miles southeast of Houston. Cruises from Galveston depart year-round.
Situated on the Gulf of Mexico, Galveston is a relaxed beach town with a rich history. Magnificent homes on Broadway, many now museums, recall Galveston’s era of wealth and prosperity in the late 1800s, and The Strand entices visitors with its restaurants, bars, galleries and stores housed in picturesque Victorian-era buildings. La King’s Confectionery, a 1920s-style ice cream parlor and candy shop, also awaits. Pier 21 is a jumping-off point for boat excursions, dolphin-spotting cruises and the adrenaline-pumping Jet Boat Thrill Ride. At the Texas Seaport Museum, you might search for ancestors in its database, which contains the names of about 130,000 immigrants who entered the U.S. at Galveston from 1846 to 1948, or climb aboard its 1877 tall ship Elissa. Other top sites include the family-friendly amusement park at Galveston Island Historic Pleasure Pier and Moody Gardens, with aquarium and rainforest attractions, a private beach, ropes course and more.
Just off the coast of the Yucatan Peninsula sits Cozumel, a tropical oasis in the Caribbean Sea. The island often is considered one of the world’s best snorkeling and scuba diving spots due to its clear, warm water, dazzling coral reef and an abundance of marine life. Popular Palancar Reef delights divers with its swim-through tunnels and caves, and beginners can encounter eels and rays at Paradise Reef. Additional shore excursions include Jet boat tours, fishing trips and expeditions that explore the island’s cenotes and Mayan ruins by Jeep, horseback or electric bike. Tequila and salsa tastings embrace local culture, and Chankanaab Adventure Beach Park thrills with ziplines, glass-bottom kayaks and a crocodile exhibition.
Grand Cayman is the largest of the Cayman Islands, an overseas U.K. territory in the Caribbean Sea. Though overfishing virtually eliminated the native turtle population in the 18th century, today the Cayman Turtle Centre on Grand Cayman teaches visitors about conservation efforts as well as offers the chance to see some species of the reptile up close. Wildlife encounters are popular and plentiful on this island; they include snorkeling with stingrays, swimming with dolphins and spying the brightly colored residents of the aptly named Starfish Point beach. A unique photo opportunity can be found on an excursion to Hell, a rock formation comprising a stretch of jagged black limestone peaks. While the idyllic Seven Mile Beach is the place to be for sunbathing and relaxing strolls, adventurous types can discover the island’s scenery on horseback, Jet Skis and helicopter tours as well as submarine and glass-bottom boat rides.
Falmouth is considered by many to be like the Colonial Williamsburg of the Caribbean. Take a stroll through Falmouth’s Historic District and explore an impressive collection of nineteenth-century Georgian architecture. Visit the Greenwood Great House museum, and you’ll find yourself in the middle of the 19th century. Take a romantic ride down the Martha Brae River on a 30-foot bamboo raft. Hunt for bargains in Water Square, where you’ll discover the Albert George Shopping and Historical center. And a trip to Falmouth wouldn’t be complete without sampling one of the over 300 different Jerk recipes.