Just back from a 4-night cruise aboard Caribbean Princess on Princess Cruises first-ever Cruising For A Cause, it was our first time sailing from the Port of Houston. Actually, it was the first time sailing from the Port of Houston for most passengers. Built in 2008 to the tune of $30 million, the new facility has been sitting empty; waiting for cruise lines to come calling ever since.
Princess Cruises will sail Caribbean Princess from Houston on a series of twenty seven 7-night itineraries to Belize, Roatan and Cozumel through April 2014 when the ship repositions to Fort Lauderdale for alternating Eastern and Western Caribbean runs. In November 2014, Emerald Princess will begin sailing from Bayport through April 2015…so it looks like Princess is going to be calling Houston home for quite some time.
Traveling from Houston’s Intercontinental Airport (IAH) it takes about 45 minutes to reach the Bayport Cruise terminal. The drive reminded us a lot of the trip from Orlando (MCO) to Port Canaveral, minus the palm trees. Princess offers transfers for $96 per person, round-trip which is a good price. We also noticed a fleet ofSuperShuttle vans lined up for pre-arranged transfer and runs about $60 per person, round trip with pricing based on how many people in the party. Private cars are also available for $97 and that’s for the car, holding up to three people via ExecuCar.
Getting Out Of There
Located inland, it takes a few hours sailing to get from Bayport to open sea. We liked it and thought sailing past the Texas landscape made for a great sailaway. This was a bit of a concern before we did it as opposed to sailing from Galveston, located right on the ocean. No big deal really, getting to the ocean.
Actually, cruise ships will probably never equal the amount of traffic that the Port of Houston Authority sees via freighters. The number one port in the United States for freight shipping, there is a lot of activity there which also makes for some good ship-watching on the way to sea.
Inside Bayport Cruise Terminal-
The shiny new cruise terminal is well organized and allowed plenty of space for embarkation activities. Special for the Princess Cruising For A Cause, a local band played military- and 60’s-themed music as passengers lined up. Special areas for upper level past-guests of the cruise line were stocked with snacks and beverages too.
Frankly, we enjoyed sailing from Bayport every bit as much as sailing from Galveston; Bayport just seems to be out in the middle of nowhere. Again, much like Port Canaveral.
If the idea of a Caribbean Princess sailing from Bayport sounds good, better book quickly. We have the ability to look at dining availability, a good indicator of how a ship is filling up on any given sailing. What we see today is a waiting list for both early and late dining through February 2014, indicating that this will be a very popular first season for Caribbean Princess.
Starting in fall 2014, Norwegian Cruise Line will sail 2,374-passenger Norwegian Jewel from Houston on seven-day Western Caribbean cruises through the 2017 cruise season.
Here are some more views of what we saw at the new Bayport Cruise Terminal.