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    Galveston boosting efforts to draw cruise-ship tourists

    As part of a new effort to become a year-round port of call, big signs with maps and a guide to tourist attractions will go up this month at the Galveston Cruise Terminal.

    The six signs, 12- by 5-feet tall, will go up by Nov. 20 on the exterior walls of Cruise Terminal 1 and 2, according to the Galveston Island Convention & Visitors Bureau.

    Another six signs are scheduled to go up in January, said bureau spokeswoman Leah Cast.

    The new "wayfinding" signs, developed and paid for by the bureau, will have a code that links to a GPS-based system for smart phones, providing directions to area attractions and restaurants.

    Galveston Island, which has the state's only working cruise terminal, already serves as a port of call, with one or two European or British ships stopping there each year, Cast said.

    The goal of the new effort, she said, is to market the island as a year-round destination for cruise ships.

    In January, the United Kingdom's Fred Olsen Cruise Line brought the Balmoral to Galveston with about 1,300 passengers who toured such sights as Bishop's Palace, Moody Gardens, Galveston Railroad Museum, The Great Storm Theater, Ocean Star Offshore Drilling Rig & Museum and Space Center Houston.

    The Convention & Visitors Bureau is an entity of the Galveston Park Board, in partnership with the Port of Galveston.

    While Galveston has become a successful home port, with five ships offering cruises from the island this year, Galveston Park Board Executive Director Kelly de Schaun said other goals are to receive cruise visits for excursions and land-based exploration and to market the island for pre- and post-cruise vacations.

    In September, the Port of Galveston and Galveston Park Board developed a task force to explore options.

    By Carol Christian, Houston Chronicle

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    We sailed out of Galveston on the Grand Princess...before the last hurricane. We came down the day before and had a very nice time walking the strand and sitting on the beach My Sister and Hubby joined us - they live in Houston - so very convenient for them! I would sail from there again; and would consider an itinerary that included Galveston as a port stop...

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