Freese and Nichols Designs Supportive Infrastructure for World-Class Galveston Cruise Terminal

Summer is the perfect season to experience a cruise vacation. Whether traveling with the entire family or planning a romantic getaway, vacationers can mark their calendars and set their sights on sailing from the newest cruise terminal at the Port of Galveston.


The Port of Galveston, which is the fourth most popular cruise home port in North America, enlisted help from Freese and Nichols to provide design services for utilities, roadway and traffic signal for a third cruise terminal to accommodate the port’s efforts to build infrastructure to facilitate efficient traffic flow.

With more than 30 million people living within a 300-mile radius of the Port of Galveston, this $125 million project is another reason why the Port of Galveston is the prime drive-to cruise market for the central U.S.


Originally, the new roadway and utilities were to be designed and constructed in 11 months to meet the aggressive terminal construction schedule. However, due to an industry-wide shutdown resulting from the global pandemic, the project came to a halt.

The cruise industry is a major economic engine for the region, benefiting suppliers, maritime services, hotels, restaurants, and shops. After a pause in project plans, the Port of Galveston and its project partners agreed to move forward.

Due to the pandemic, Freese and Nichols took an unconventional approach to design the project remotely:

  • Draft designs that accounted for excavation around historical pier structures with Auto CAD.
  • Conduct Zoom progress meetings with port staff to ensure the project remained on the revised schedule.
  • Obtain utility permits to design a waterline to provide the cruise terminal with water for the terminal bathrooms.
  • Coordinate with the port’s traffic consultant to provide traffic movement guidance for the roadway designs.


Despite challenges, Freese and Nichols was able to benefit from the delayed project schedule, allowing the transportation design team to come up with a more cost-effective design for the utilities, roadway and traffic signal.

Freese and Nichols created plans, specifications and estimates for two plan sets: one for the water and sanitary sewer lines to the new cruise terminal and one set for the roadway, drainage, illumination and traffic signal. The team provided the utilities and access to the terminal building in addition to maximizing the remaining space on the pier so that the port could provide more parking spaces for cruise passengers. The firm designed the roadway to maximize the potential area for parking spaces, keeping in mind that a large portion of the port’s income comes from cruise parking.

The project team also designed the grading plan for the parking lot and roads to minimize ponding in the terminal parking lot. The design featured grading to manage water flow during heavy rains.


The infrastructure project meets the port’s goals to efficiently move port-related traffic and help to alleviate congestion on the heavily traveled area of Harborside Drive near downtown Galveston. Cruise passengers can park and board to begin their cruise vacations more quickly.

Due to the success of the project, the Port of Galveston was able to celebrate the opening of the terminal in November 2022. As the port marks 22 years as a cruise home port, it expects to set new records for total cruise passengers and with more than 350 scheduled cruise sailings.


New streets and sidewalks allow for easy access to and from the Port of Galveston’s new Cruise Terminal 10 and allow for thousands of new parking spaces for cruisers.