Galveston, Texas one-day cruise

We are lucky that our home is on the water in a coastal canal community, with our boat in the backyard boathouse. We decided to take a Galveston, Texas one-day cruise; not the transatlantic one we had been planning, but we had a beautiful day on the water.

Route of our one-day cruise

We visited many sights on the bayside of Galveston, without ever leaving our boat. There are so many attractions and experiences Galveston has available for its residents and tourists. We boated by just a few during our day on the water.

No pool deck, no buffet, no casino, no room service, and not one single shore excursion, but here is the story.

Galveston Causeway Bridge

Galveston, TX - one day cruise

The ride from our house to the Galveston Causeway bridge takes about ten minutes, but we stopped about halfway to buy live shrimp for bait at Fatboy’s Bait shop, yes, that’s the name. We planned to incorporate a little bit of fishing into our cruise day.

For you fishermen in the area, live shrimp in April 2020 at Fatboy’s was $11 per pint. Fat Boys Bait and Tackle, 403 Jones Lake Rd, Galveston, TX 77554. Fatboy’s is accessible by land and water, and a boat launch is also available there. 

We traveled from our house through the nearby Tiki Island, also a canal home community, and entered the Intercoastal Waterway used by all commercial boat traffic in the area. We turned toward Galveston and traveled under the Causeway bridge.

The Galveston Causeway bridge is about 45 miles from Houston, and carries traffic from the Texas mainland over Galveston Bay and the Gulf Intracoastal Waterway, and onto Galveston Island.

The original causeway was built in 1912 and was upgraded in 2003 – 2009, and became an 8,592-foot long bridge consisting of four traffic lanes and two shoulder lanes in each direction.

Galveston cruise terminal

Just a few minutes past the Causeway bridge, we arrived in Galveston and alongside the Galveston cruise terminals. On this particular day, only one cruise ship was docked at the pier. On a normal day, when all is right with the world, there is a Carnival cruise ship and a Royal Caribbean cruise ship docked here.

Galveston, Texas one-day cruise

As we boated past the cruise terminals, we arrived at Pier 21, where there are outstanding seafood restaurants, a hotel, and three museums, including Pier 21 Theater, the Ocean Star Offshore Energy Center, and Texas Seaport Museum.

There is so much to see and do in the Galveston Port area, and hopefully, with summertime fast approaching, the city will be able to reopen soon. I recommend taking at least a day in the port area to take advantage of these attractions.

Pier 21 Theater

Pier 21 offers three documentary films, one that describes the catastrophic Storm of 1900, one that tells the story of Pirate Jean Lafitte in the Galveston area, and a film that explains immigration at the Port of Galveston during the time it was a port of entry for over a hundred thousand immigrants.

Texas Seaport Museum/1877 Tall Ship ELISSA

The Texas Seaport Museum provides hour-long harbor tours of Galveston Bay by boat and is a great and entertaining way to see comfortably get out on the water and observe the various bird and marine life, which very often includes dolphins.

Also, at the Texas Seaport Museum, you will find the Galveston Immigration Database, where visitors can search for information regarding ancestors that arrived in Texas by way of the Galveston Port. This database is also available online.

Galveston, Texas one-day cruise
Tall Ship Elissa

The majestically beautiful Elissa rests adjacent to the Texas Seaport Museum. She is beautiful to see with her sails up. There are only two other tall ships like the Elissa in the world that still actively sail.

In 1972 Elissa was purchased from a scrapyard in Greece and brought to Galveston by the Galveston Historical Society, who then embarked on a massive restoration of the ship. Today, it is a National Historic Landmark, with over 40,000 people visiting the ship on self-guided tours each year.

A few weeks each year, usually in April, the vessel offers individual spots for day sails, which always sell out quickly. See Galveston History’s website for information. 

Ocean Star Offshore Energy Center

2002 Wharf Road, Galveston, TX 77550
Open 10-5 daily
Adults $10 / Seniors and Military $8 / Youth (7-18) $6 / Under 6 Free

The Ocean Star Offshore Energy Center is a retired jack-up drilling rig you can board and tour. This museum on the water consists of three floors of displays and illustrates the operation of a drilling rig in the offshore industry. Visitors can walk out on a skywalk to the drill floor of the rig.

Don’t these activities sound like a fun day on Galveston Bay? These attractions can be enjoyed all by yourself, as a couple, and most certainly as a family.

On a regular pre-coronavirus day, we might have stopped, tied the boat up, and walked into one of the restaurants for lunch or a cold drink along this Pier 21 area, but this was not one of those days, and we continued with our “cruise” on toward Seawolf Park.

Fisherman’s Wharf is our go-to restaurant when we’re out in the boat in this area or even when we drive into Galveston.

Seawolf Park

100 Seawolf Park Blvd., Galveston, TX
(409) 797-5114
Vehicle Entry Fee $6 per car
Fishing fees
Adults (12-64) Island Residents: $6.00, Non-Residents: $9.00
Seniors (65+) Island Residents: $3.00, Non-Residents: $4.00
Children (5 -11) Island Residents: $3.00, Non-Residents: $4.00
Kids 4 and younger: Free
Galveston Naval Museum
$10 Adults (12 and older) / Seniors $5 / Military Discount w/ID $5
Kids (5-11): $5 / Kids under 5: Free

Seawolf Park is a widely popular tourist attraction on Pelican Island. This park includes a playground and picnic area and a frequently used fishing pier. Tours are also available at an old WWII submarine, the USS Cavalla, and the USS Stewart, a former destroyer escort.

The USS Cavalla, commissioned in 1944, was responsible for sinking a Japanese aircraft carrier during World War II. The USS Stewart is one of only two preserved destroyer escorts remaining in the United States.

The remains of the World War I tanker S.S. Selma, the largest concrete ship constructed, can be seen northwest of the park’s fishing pier.

S. S. Selma

The S.S. Selma, an old concrete shipwreck, is visible from Seawolf Park and has a bit of colorful history. Because of a steel shortage during World War I, the S.S. Selma was one of 12 experimental ships that were built using concrete.

The war ended before its completion so, the S.S. Selma became a civilian oil tanker. Sadly, less than a year after its commissioning, the ship ran aground while in Mexico, was damaged, and returned to Galveston for repair.

The repair turned out not to be cost-effective, so in 1922, the government dug a 1,500-foot long and 25-foot deep channel near Pelican Island’s eastern shoreline and abandoned Selma, intentionally leaving it to deteriorate. This ship has also been a popular fishing spot with boaters for many years.

I remember tying our boat off and boarding Selma to fish from it over thirty years ago. Getting that close to this ship today would be a very unsafe thing to do now, after all these years. It is in deplorable shape.

SS Selma

A. Pat Daniels, retired editor of the Galveston Daily News, purchased Selma in 1992. His efforts resulted in the S.S. Selma’s recognition by the Texas Historical Commission; it’s being designated a State Archeological Landmark by the Texas Antiquities Committee and listed on the National Register of Historic Places.

According to an article I read at Atlas Obscura, this wrecked ship came in use once more, this time during Prohibition, when Federal agents confiscated bottles of contraband liquor from bootleg smugglers. The confiscated liquor was taken to the S.S. Selma and shattered against its concrete walls.

Before the end of Prohibition, nearly $1,000,000 worth of contraband booze was destroyed within the walls of this ship.

Sunset ride back home

We explored quite a lot and even stopped at the causeway bridge to do some fishing. On this particular day, I caught almost all of the fish, a very rare occurrence. We caught trout, flounder, sheepshead, black drum, and even two small stingrays! Only the trout went home with us – for supper.

Galveston, Texas one-day cruise
Just a little stingray

I hope you will consider a day trip, or even a week-long trip to Galveston to go visit some of these attractions. There are many more fun things to do in Galveston than I have mentioned here. Do you have a Galveston story you’d like to share?

Read more about Galveston here.

Galveston, Texas one-day cruise

14 thoughts on “Galveston, Texas one-day cruise

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  5. Love your stories! You are a natural travel guide….and story writer

    1. Thank you, Karen. I appreciate your kind words and am glad you enjoy the stories.

  6. You are the best and most interesting story teller!
    Your details are so descriptive makes me want to go and see what I didn’t know Galveston had!
    Thank you for all your info.
    I want to go but with you as guide! The water looks inviting (for a boat ride !)

    1. Thank you so much for your kind words. There is so very much more to see and do in Galveston. I think you’d enjoy a boat trip to Galveston!

    1. Are your cruises taking passengers? The shore excursions sound awesome! Great article, and neat pics.

      1. I would love to be able to take passengers, right now today! I am glad you enjoyed the article. Maybe, perhaps, we can all get out there in the water together someday?

  7. Great article! I live an hour from Galveston and had no idea some of those cool places were there. When all this virus stuff is gone, I need to go check them out.

    1. Thanks, Dorothy. There is really so so much more to see too. Maybe we can meet up in Galveston one day and see some things?

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