Editor's Note: As of April 2016, Houston is no longer an active cruise port.Houston welcomed the first steamboat to the Houston Ship Channel, one of the busiest seaports in the United States, in 1837. In 2013, cruise ships found their way back to the area at the Bayport Cruise Terminal, which cost $108.4 million to build and has contracts with Princess Cruises and Norwegian Cruise Line.
Port of Houston
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Reached through Galveston Bay, the Port of Houston sits on the southeast corner of what's known as Bay Area Houston -- a complex of seven small cities and 35 miles of waterfront that connect Houston and Galveston. The port is 25 miles long and includes the Bayport Cruise Terminal, which sits close to plenty of tourist attractions in the nation's fourth-largest city and in nearby waterside towns. The port is located about an hour from George Bush Intercontinental Airport and 45 minutes from Hobby Airport. The port is also about 30 minutes closer to the airports than the Port of Galveston and half the distance to downtown Houston than Galveston.
Houston is well known as an international city, and its restaurant scene is ranked as one of the best in the country. The Houston Museum District features 19 museums within walking distance. Closer to port are the famous Space Center Houston and Kemah Boardwalk.
Where You're Docked
Houston Cruise Port Address:
Bayport Cruise Terminal, 4700 Cruise Road, Pasadena, Texas 77586
The Bayport Cruise Terminal (4700 Cruise Road) is technically in the town of Pasadena.
You can be in one of the Bay Area communities for shopping, dining and recreational activities in less than 10 minutes, or you can be in Houston in about a half hour.
Good to Know
The smell in Pasadena is overpowering. Because of the stretch of refineries, which produce a burnt chemical odor, the city holds the unfortunate nickname of "Stinkadena."
By Car: Most rental car companies, including Hertz, Avis, Budget and Enterprise, have offices nearby. Parking at the cruise terminal is $80 per week, $75 if prepaid. Parking is free for disabled American veterans who have the proper paperwork.
By Taxi: Taxi services available at the cruise terminal include Yellow Cab (713-236-1111) and Pasadena Taxi (713-477-6000).
Currency & Best Way to Get Money
Houston's currency is the U.S. dollar. ATM's are available at both airports and also in all Bay Area cities. The closest is Seabrook, which is about three miles from the Bayport Cruise Terminal. Banks also are located in Webster, Clear Lake City, Nassau Bay, League City, La Porte and Kemah.
Several exchange bureaus are located at George Bush Intercontinental Airport (IAH). Major banks also provide exchange services. Banks are typically open 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. Monday to Friday, with many having Saturday hours and some having limited Sunday hours.
English is spoken in Houston.
Food and Drink
Houston is known for two types of cuisine: barbecue (Texas is known for its brisket, cooked slowly over indirect heat and wood; barbecue sauce is optional) and Tex-Mex (heavy on the cheese, meat and tortillas).
At the port, you'll find plenty of dining options. In addition to the restaurants listed below, a handful of area chains on the Kemah Boardwalk offer seafood and other cuisines.
In the Bay Area:
Cullen's Upscale American Grille, near the port on Space Center Boulevard, is run by chef Paul Lewis, who studied in England and earned his stripes at the Four Seasons in Houston. Signature dishes include Asian noodle salad, pizza from a wood-burning oven and short rib ravioli. (11500 Space Center Blvd.; 281-991-2000; Sunday brunch, 11 a.m. to 3 p.m.; Sunday and Monday, 11 a.m. to 9 p.m.; Tuesday to Friday, 11 a.m. to 10 p.m.; Saturday, 5 to 10 p.m.)
Boondoggle's Brewery Pub in El Lago offers hearty bar food like wings, calzones, meatball subs and Reuben sandwiches. It also offers beers from around the world. (4106 NASA Parkway; 281-326-2739; open Monday to Thursday, 11 a.m. to midnight; Friday and Saturday, 11 a.m. to 2 a.m.; Sunday, 10 a.m. to midnight)
Tommy's Restaurant and Oyster Bar in Clear Lake features hot and spicy barbecue shrimp, New Orleans gumbo, yellowfin tuna po-boy sandwiches and seafood platters. (2555 Bay Area Blvd.; 281-480-2221; open Monday toThursday, 11 a.m. to 10 p.m.; Friday, 11 a.m. to 11 p.m.; Saturday, 4 p.m. to 11 p.m.)
Brennan's of Houston (Part of the Commander's Palace family) is the place to go if you're celebrating a birthday, anniversary, graduation or other milestone. Executive Chef Danny Trace puts a creole twist on Texas cuisine that features fresh meat, fish, seafood and produce sourced from local vendors. Menu offerings include turtle soup, smoked shrimp and okra gumbo, fried green tomato and blue crab, blueberry creole and cream cheese pancakes, quail & waffles, shrimp and grits, and the restaurant's signature bananas foster dessert. There's also an extensive wine list. Bonus: you can snag 25-cent martinis when you buy an entree. If you're a foodie who's always wondered what it's like to work in a high-end restaurant's kitchen, check out Brennan's of Houston's "Chef for a Day" program. (See our "Been There, Done That" section for details.) (3300 Smith Street; 713-522-9711; open 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. daily for lunch or brunch, 5:45 p.m. to 10 p.m. daily for dinner)
Gatlin's BBQ in the Heights earns raves in a state that's serious about its barbecue. Highlights include the fatty brisket, crisp sausage links, ribs, dirty rice and peach cobbler. It's wise to call ahead to make sure they haven't run out of meat. (1221 W. 19th St.; 713-869-4227; open Tuesday to Saturday, 11 a.m. to 7 p.m.)
Y'alls Texas Store, which has locations in the Willowbrook Mall, The Woodlands Mall and in Old Town Spring, features a wide range of items that scream Texas, including Dr. Pepper jerky, a "God Bless Texas" pewter cross and Texas Armadillo Droppings (pralines). And don't forget the waffle maker that produces your breakfast in the shape of Texas.
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