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Galveston, Houston a good place to go for your cruise fix

Galveston and the newer Bayport Cruise Terminal in Pasadena, Texas just outside Houston have become popular with Oklahomans looking to get their cruise fix. Houston and Galveston are about an 8 hour drive from Oklahoma City, making it doable for folks looking to save on air fare to south Florida where most cruise ships depart from in the United States.

Here's a look at the players in both Galveston and Houston with the good and the bad of what they have to offer.

Houston

Princess

What's to like: Princess is the Love Boat line, only you're not likely to see Capt. Stubing on deck or Isaac behind the bar or Gopher, doing whatver it was Gopher did. Princess is a nice cruise line. It is somewhat subdued thanks to a slightly older set than you will see on Carnival or Royal Caribbean. Princess also has excellent food options both in their main dining rooms and specialty restaurants. Emerald Princess is currently the ship calling in Houston, but her sister ship Caribbean Princess will take over next season, which for Princess is only about 6 months per year in Galveston.

What's not to like: Princess' entertainment options in their main theater are somewhat dated and bland. If you like Barber Shop Raga you'll be in heaven.

Norwegian Cruise Lines

What's to like: NCL is affordable. And it has a number of dining options for guests outside of its main dining room. NCL is also known for its relaxed atmosphere. It's a bit of a blend between Royal Caribbean and Carnival.

What's not to like: The dining options are great, but most come with a surcharge that can add up. NCL also is known for its garish public spaces and cabins.

Galveston

Carnival

What's to like: Carnival currently has two ships out of Galveston offering 4 and 7 day cruises. Carnival is the original "Fun Ship" and that describes the atmosphere onboard. If you like adult beverages and hairy chest contests by the pool it's an option. Carnival's affordability is also a plus for budget minded folks.

What's not to like: I've heard Carnival described as a Motel 6 on water but I wouldn’t go that far. You're not going to find a lot of high end food and entertainment on their ships. Their ships can also lean towards the rowdy side at times (during Spring Break, for example).

Royal Caribbean

What's to like: RCCL is currently operating the Navigator of the Seas out of Galveston. This ship has just about everything from a rock climbing wall (standard on all RCCL ships) and a surfing experience and ice skating.

What's not to like: Not much. RCCL delivers a consistent product with good food and interesting entertainment options. But the hitch is their prices are generally higher than any other line in south Texas.

Itineraries
All lines cruise the western Caribbean, though Princess has some different itineraries on its schedule next year that will include stops in Key West and its private island in the Bahamas, Princess Caye. If there is a limitation in cruising out of Texas it’s that you’re not likely to get to go to more exotic ports like Aruba and St. Martin or St. Thomas.

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Matt Patterson

Matt Patterson has been with The Oklahoman since 2006. Prior to joining the news staff in 2010, Patterson worked in The Oklahoman's sports department for five years. He previously worked at The Lawton Constitution and The Edmond Sun.... Read more ›

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