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More of a visual learner? Read the transcript of this week's Galveston Unscripted podcast episode below:
Tune in every Friday for a brand new episode of the Galveston Unscripted podcast.
Today, Galveston, Texas, has not only been a port city for two centuries but enjoys the status as one of the busiest cruise ports in the United States. From the Port of Galveston, cruise passengers can travel to countries that border the Gulf of Mexico, the Caribbean islands, and ports of call around the world.
The cruise industry as we see it today began in 1974 when the port started hosting its first cruise ship bound for the Caribbean. Eager passengers join a festive expedition across the open ocean to explore these places to take in and explore the cultures, history, and people connected to us by the unobstructed open ocean.
In the 1990s, the Port of Galveston aggressively sought modern cruise ships to utilize Galveston as a home port. Since 2000, Galveston has been known as the state's premier cruise port. The aspects that made Galveston a thriving port since the 1800s make the island a perfect location for cruise lines to set up operations today.
The Port of Galveston is known as a deep-water port and enjoys easy access to the Gulf of Mexico. Galveston Island's transportation infrastructure connects directly to one of the largest cities in the United States; Houston. Galveston also serves the Midwest and the Rocky Mountain states with the closest direct access to the Gulf of Mexico for passenger vessels.
Has Galveston just this recently become a pass-through for passenger ships filled with inquisitive explorers? Not quite.
Galveston, in the eyes of major cruise lines, meets major logistical requirements that have been tried and proven for centuries. When the City of Galveston opened for business in 1839, people worldwide were looking to immigrate to or through Galveston. People with financial means booked passage on vessels that hopped from port to port along the Coast of North America. They made their way to Galveston to explore the people and way of life of early Texans and Galvestonians or even settle permanently here on the island.
Not to be confused with the European immigration movement, but rather making a trip to Texas to see what it's all about. A stark contrast to the travel routes in which we see today. But a great reminder that Galveston, Texas, was once a sparsely populated and exotic subtropical island situated on the coast of a fledgling republic.
Early Galveston did not resemble a beach resort in Mexico or The Bahamas but a laid-back community focused on survival and steady growth. But nonetheless, it attracted people from all over the world. A book published in 1844 called "Texas and The Gulf of Mexico, yachting in The New World" is a firsthand account of a family sailing from England to explore the Caribbean, Texas, and Mexico. This book Chronicles the people, lifestyle, and events of Galveston and Texas in the 1840s. It also focuses on the stories of the residents who lived through the preceding decade and witnessed the Texas Revolution. A few chapters in which Galveston makes an appearance are titled "Sail for the Gulf of Texas, Galveston, the difficulty of Crossing the Bar at the mouth of the Harbor" and "The Island of Galveston. Curious Mode of Building houses. Six Room House built in a week. Go ahead career of the Texans." Other written firsthand accounts exhibit Galveston and the laid-back nature of its residents and the ability to build a structure in just a few days following a hurricane.
A trip from England, Florida, or New Orleans may not be considered pleasure cruising today. Many of these voyages would be entirely powered by the wind, and most visitors didn't have an all-you-can-eat buffet on board, but it just shows that cruising to and from Galveston is nothing new. And just like the firsthand accounts written in 1844, visitors to and through the island still comment on Galvestonians' laid-back nature. It's island time.