Charleston Cruise Port
Charleston, South Carolina is a contemporary city overflowing with history. Once nicknamed the "Holy City," Charleston is one of the original settlements of the first 13 colonies. The intricate architecture and colonial churches, that populate the urban landscape, is a reminder of the city's importance in American history.
Experience the southern hospitality as you explore the wonders of the Historic District that have been carefully preserved since the 1700's. The neoclassical grace of the Nathaniel Russell House and the famous guests that once stayed at the Heyward-Washington House attract thousands of tourists each year. Escape the Historic District and head towards downtown where you can truly find the mesh of the old and new. The modern malls and skyscrapers will give you a chance to indulge in one of the most vibrant cities of the "Old South."
The Port of Charleston is visited by many ships including the Norwegian Dawn, Holland America's Maasdam, Seven Seas Navigator, Oceania Marina, Seabourn Sojourn, and the Crystal Symphony and Serenity. However, only the Carnival Fantasy uses the Port of Charleston as a departure port. The Carnival Fantasy offers itineraries to the Caribbean and Bahamas.↑ Back to Top ↑ Back to Top
Where is the cruise port?
The Port of Charleston Cruise Terminal is located in Charleston Harbor at 196 Concord St., Charleston, SC (see map).↑ Back to Top
What language is spoken in Charleston? Do they speak English?
English is the official language.↑ Back to Top
What is the time zone in Charleston?
Charleston is on Eastern Standard Time (-5 GMT).
Current Time - Charleston, SC, USA↑ Back to Top
What is the national currency?
The US Dollar (USD).
Where can I get or exchange money?
If you are exchanging international currency, such as Euros or Canadian Dollars, Charleston International Airport (CHS), located 12 miles northwest of the cruise terminal (see map), and some downtown hotels are the most accessible locations to the Port of Charleston.
- Banks closest to the Charleston Cruise Port:
There are a variety of banks located within a mile of the port. East Bay Street, Broad Street, and Meeting Street offer accessible options, below are a few:
- SunTrust Bank, located at 276 E Bay St # 1, Charleston, SC 29401-2600, is less than a mile southwest of the port (see map).
- Regions Banks, located at 170 Meeting St # 1, Charleston, SC 29401-3177, is less than half a mile southwest of the port (see map).
- Bank of South Carolina, located at 256 Meeting St, Charleston, SC 29401-1637, is less than a mile southwest of the port (see map.)
- ATMs closest to Charleston Cruise Port:
There are many ATMs located throughout the city, at the banks mentioned above and in the cruise terminal.
How can I stay in touch with home? (Ex. Email, phone, etc.)
Most cell phone plans in the US now offer free nationwide roaming. Contact your cell phone provider for information regarding roaming rates. Also, public phones are available throughout the city. If the U.S. is not home, you can purchase calling cards at most any gas station or convenience store to make international calls affordably.
Where are the Internet cafes?
Free WiFi is available at all Starbucks and most McDonald’s locations in the area. There are also several hotels in Charleston that offer a small business center or couple of computers with Internet access for hotel guests in case you did not bring your own computer.
What are the cell phone rates?
Most cell phone plans in the US now offer free nationwide roaming. Contact your cell phone provider for information regarding roaming rates.↑ Back to Top
Charleston has a Humid Subtropical Climate common in the southeastern United States. The hot, humid summers are complemented by the temperate, short winters. If you are visiting during the summer, prepare for rain and thunderstorms as this is the wet season. Check the tropics as your trip date nears, as Charleston is at risk of tropical storms and hurricanes from July to November.
Average Monthly Temperatures and Rainfall in Charleston↑ Back to Top
Charleston is a wonderful city for walking. The downtown area has boutique shops, colonial homes, museums and scenic parks at accessible distances for pedestrians. Although other attractions, such as plantations or beaches, may require transportation, walking is a great way to truly enjoy the ambiance of Charleston.
Taxis are available throughout the city and will take you pretty much anywhere you want to go. Black cabs, much like those in England, are also a new addition to the city's transportation system.
The city recently implemented water taxi service in the port area. The water taxis serve the Charleston Harbor Marina, Patriot’s Point, Mt. Pleasant, Charleston Maritime Center and Downtown Charleston.
The Charleston Area Regional Transportation Authority (CARTA) is the public transportation authority in Charleston and they offer a variety of services such as their Historic Charleston Bus System. For more information on fares and schedules visit the CARTA website.
All major rental car companies are represented in Charleston. Best bet is to reserve your vehicle before you leave home. You will get better rates online and a shuttle will be able to take you to your car from the airport.↑ Back to Top
What is the best way to travel between the Charleston cruise port and the airport?
Charleston International Airport (CHS) is approximately 12 miles northwest of the Port of Charleston Cruise Terminal (see map). Taxis from Charleston International Airport and the Port of Charleston Cruise Terminal cost are probably your best bet at about $25 one way.
Which hotels are convenient to get to/from the cruise port?
There are several hotels in the Downtown Charleston, Charleston International Airport and near the Port of Charleston area that are more than adequate for one, two or several night's stay before and/or after your cruise. Below are a few different options depending on your needs:
- If you are driving from out of town to Charleston for your cruise:
The Holiday Inn Riverview, located at 301 Savannah Highway, Charleston, SC 29407, just 3 miles west of the cruise terminal (see map), offers the "Cruise Park-n-Breakfast" package. This package offers complimentary parking for the duration of your cruise, full hot breakfast buffet for two in the Harbor View Restaurant and views of the river for a relaxing stay before your cruise.
- If you are flying to Charleston for your cruise:
Aloft Charleston Airport and Convention Center, located at 4875 Tanger Outlet Boulevard, North Charleston, SC 29418, is just 3 miles southeast of the Charleston International Airport and 10 miles northwest of the cruise terminal (see map), offers with one-night accommodations before or after the cruise, the "park and a-go-go" package. This package includes shuttle services to and from the cruise port and Charlotte International Airport, a $10 credit towards a hot breakfast at re:fuel by Aloft, and free parking for the duration of the cruise.
- For a hotel close to Charleston attractions:
The The Renaissance Charleston Historic District Hotel, located in Downtown Charleston, 11 miles southeast of the port and half a mile northwest of the cruise terminal (see map). The hotel is a mixture of classic, southern luxury with contemporary accommodations. You can easily visit the City Market, Charleston University, and King Street. The Renaissance Charleston offers the "Park Here, Cruise There" package which includes overnight accommodation with a 1PM late check-out, breakfast for two at the Wentworth Grill, and parking for up to 11 nights. Use promo code QZR
Shrimp and grits have been called the greatest dish in low country/South Caroline cuisine. Like all great dishes, this Charleston treat is a controversial topic in local discourse because few can agree on the traditional recipe. The savory combination of pepper jack grits and tender shrimp is a true southern experience. Hominy Grill, located 2 miles west of the cruise terminal (see map), has some of the best shrimp and grits in Charleston.↑ Back to Top
What are the must-drinks in Charleston?
The Goombay Smash is a mixture of Captain Morgan with Bacardi Rum and an assortment of fruits. This sweet drink is a perfect complement to the zest of southern cooking.
Also try a Charleston Cocktail for a refreshing drink on one of those long, hot, summer days in South Carolina. The Charleston Cocktail is a mixture of Mandarin Napoleon, Cherry Brandy and lemonade which will quench most any thirst. You can find a Charleston Cocktail at most any bar around downtown Charleston.↑ Back to Top
Which are the best souvenirs to buy in Charleston? Where can I get them?
Jellies, preserves and relishes are the best way to take home the authentic flavor of the south. Artichoke relish is typically made from South Carolina produce and is normally eaten with rice and pork. The Charleston Hot Pepper Jelly will definitely capture the zesty southern experience in a single jar. Pick and choose from a great variety of local jellies, preserves and relishes that are so common around town.
Rice spoons were typical utensils amongst affluent families in the south. These 14-inch silver spoons were passed down from generation to generation, creating a tradition that still lives on in Charleston.
Sweetgrass Baskets reflect the presence of West Africans in Charleston for more than 400 years. These valuable artifacts are perfect to decorate any home and they are one of the oldest art forms in the South. Choose from a variety of sizes, styles and colors to find the perfect gift for a loved one.↑ Back to Top
What are the top attractions and must-sees in Charleston? How long will it take me to get there and to explore?
- If you have ever seen a postcard or a picture of Charleston, it was probably taken at Rainbow Row. A series of historic homes, located on East Bay Street, Rainbow Row stands out with each house painted a different pastel color. Rainbow Row is one of Charleston's best examples of the picturesque architecture that is found throughout the city. So take an afternoon off and enjoy one the most famous attractions in Charleston.
- Charleston is known as the Holy City the many churches that populate the city's skyline. If you happen to be in town on a Sunday, attend one of the local services and enjoy the passion and joy of one of the many large choirs, as well as, the exquisite architecture of these churches. Listed below are a few notable churches in the area:
- Drayton Hall is a national landmark well worth a visit. This 1738 plantation house is the oldest in its kind open to the public. This is a "preserved" site and not a "restored site" meaning nothing has been altered form the original. The house is not furnished but the landscaping and the historical backdrop that this property offers is incredible.
The Aiken-Rhett House is one of the best examples of the traditional Charleston aristocracy. This antebellum townhouse is decorated with European artifacts that William Aiken, once governor of South Carolina, collected throughout his travels. Unaltered since 1858, the house will give you a glimpse of life as the ruling elite in 1850's South Carolina.
- Folly Beach, nicknamed "The Edge of America" by locals, offers expansive beaches and scenic afternoons. You will have to leave the downtown Charleston area but visiting this island town is well worth your money and time. The beach is very active: you can find concerts, marathons, beach volleyball tournaments and surfing contests all year long.
- Sullivan’s Island is a lovely, family-friendly beach perfect for lazy afternoons in Charleston. The beaches are spectacular year round and the island has multiple, laid-back dining options for the beach bums. Expect clean facilities and lifeguards on duty.
- Isles of Palms is a secluded beach surrounded by nature. When walking or swimming around this tiny island, you can spot dolphins, pelicans, or even a sea turtle laying its eggs. The island is built around the ecosystem, so don't be surprised if traffic stops completely because a turtle is crossing the road.
- The Charleston City Market is the perfect place for tourists to enjoy Downtown Charleston and to purchase a souvenir. The market is made up of dozens of individual folkloric vendors that sell all kinds of local merchandise. For the most traditional souvenirs visit Market Street.
- King Street offers more upscale shopping with more than 16 blocks of stores to keep you entertained for hours. The stores range from local boutiques that sell hand-woven fashions, to globally recognized brands such as Abercrombie & Fitch.
- The Tanger Outlet Stores have more than 90 brand name manufacturer and designer outlet stores for you to find that deal. This enormous mall will satisfy all of your shopping needs.
Charleston has several good golf courses in the area, below are a few of them:
- Charleston National Country Club was originally designed by Rees Jones to be a private sanctuary for exclusive members, but ever since its opening in 1990 it's been a public-access course. A mixture of marshes, high grounds, creeks and tiny islands make this course quite demanding. With a rating of 75.1 and a course as varied as its landscape, you won't regret driving into the outskirts of Charleston for a round.
- Cougar Point Golf Club was described by its course designer Gary Player, “When you go around the golf course, it does something for your soul.” Kiawah Island Resort’s 90-hole lineup is a premier golfing destination. Although it has been overshadowed by competition over the years, its newest addition, Cougar Point, is revered amongst tourists and locals in the Lowcountry. Not overly long and with a rating of 74, this southern treat is a great option for golf aficionados.
- The Crooked Oaks Golf Course is part of a legacy that has spread far and wide. Designed by Robert Trent Jones Sr. who has designed more than 500 courses in 39 countries, Crooked Oaks in Seabrook Island Club is the only one in Charleston. The landscape is composed of a refreshing oak forest that requires strategic thinking from all players. Golf Magazine calls it: "...one of the Lowcountry's best kept secrets."
With several wrecks, reefs and ledges, Charleston is a better dive city than you may think. If you just can't wait to dive off of the island paradises you will visit on your cruise, Charleston Scuba has everything you need. Not only have they been in business for more than 14 years, but they are the only diving shop that is PADI 5 IDC in South Carolina. Their friendly staff will teach to dive, help you buy gear, and take you on the best diving expeditions in Charleston.↑ Back to Top
- Carriage tours around the Historic District are a must for every tourist that visits Charleston. Tour guides will explain the importance and history of all the landmarks of the city as you stroll down beautiful, picturesque streets. Beware of large crowds during high season.
- Adventure Harbor Tours gives you the opportunity to experience the outdoors and enjoy a day of family fun. This two and a half hour excursion tour to Morris Island will leave you speechless. Dolphins swim next to the boat on the way to the island and beautiful shells and shark teeth can be found on the beach. This uninhabited terrain is the best place to get a break from the hustle and bustle of the Historic District.
- The Charles Towne Pub Stroll is one of the best ways to enjoy the Charleston nightlife. Tour guides dress in period attire and tell pub stories throughout the night to entertain the guests. This European-style pub crawl will take you through the local taverns and pubs that tourists typically and unfortunately miss.