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Charleston Cruise Port Profile and Travel Tips

Carnival Ecstasy
Carnival Ecstasy often departs from the Charleston cruise port. Credit: Wikimedia
Charleston South Carolina is both a popular place to visit on its own and an active starting point for Caribbean cruises.

The city is known for its dining, history and architecture. Port of Charleston is located in the historic district, which makes it easy for passengers to see the best city sights before or after their cruise.

Ships embarking from Charleston include Carnival Fantasy, Carnival Ecstasy and Seven Seas Mariner. Common cruise destinations include Nassau Bahamas, Turks and Caicos, and Amber Cove Dominican Republic.

Nearby Attractions

The historic district is a great place for simply walking around to view the mansions and historic buildings. Other nearby attractions include the South Carolina Aquarium and The Citadel military college.

Fort Sumter is the most famous Charleston attraction. It is about 11 miles from the cruise terminal, so visitors will need a taxi, rental car or tour bus to get there.

Other attractions include City Market, Middleton Place, Magnolia Place and Gardens, Waterfront Park, Drayton Hall, Boone Hall and Charles Towne Landing.

Terminal Location and Directions

The Charleston cruise terminal is easily accessible from I-26, Highway 17 North and Highway 17 South. Be aware of highway signs providing directions to the cruise terminal.

From I-26 west, take exit 219 B and go left on Mount Pleasant Street. Continue through two intersections and onto Morrison Drive / Route 52. Continue south under the bridge until Morrison becomes East Bay Street. Go left on Chapel Street, left on Charlotte Street, right on Concord Street to Union Pier Terminal Gate 2.

From I-26 east, take the same exit 219 B and turn left at the foot of the exit ramp. Cross King and Meeting streets to Morrison Drive and follow the same directions above.

Gate 2 at the intersection of Concord and Laurens streets is the entrance for passengers in personal vehicles. It is the gate for anyone planning to park at the terminal or being dropped off there.

Cruise travelers can park their vehicles and process luggage starting at noon and continuing until 3 p.m. Passengers should go to the luggage collection site before checking in to the cruise.

Terminal Parking

Parking costs $20 a day for standard-sized vehicles and $50 per day for oversized vehicles such as campers and buses. Prices are subject to change.

Vehicles displaying a valid handicap permit, handicap license plate and valid ID receive free parking for their cruise. The person with the handicap permit must be traveling in the vehicle.

Assistance is also available at the Port drop off areas for guests not storing vehicles. Complimentary shuttle service is provided for all passengers between the Port parking areas and the Passenger Terminal.

Passengers must show cruise line documents and photo ID to board the shuttle buses. Credit cards, cash, traveler's check, or personal check (payable to SCSPA) will be accepted as payment. Checks written on non-U.S. banks and financial institutions are not accepted.

Payment is due when vehicle is left in storage on departure day of the cruise.

Local Weather

Charleston is farther south than Baltimore or New York, but it has similar temperatures during the summer. The average highs get into the upper 80s Fahrenheit, according to the U.S. National Weather Service.

But the city gets more rain than Baltimore or New York. Rain is especially heavy from July through September when it averages six to seven inches a month. That makes Charleston a better embarkation port in late spring to early summer.
Scott S. Bateman is a professional journalist who has traveled widely throughout the Caribbean and the Americas.

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February 17, 2020