Updated July 26, 2019
Union Pier Terminal
32 Washington Street
Charleston, SC 29401
Just a few blocks away from Charleston's historic downtown, the Charleston Cruise Port has one terminal dedicated to cruise ships. Charleston's proximity to 33 major metropolitan areas within a 5.5-hour drive makes it a popular port; add to that Charleston's reputation as a premier city for food and drink, and passengers have a drivable location that serves both their cruise and land-based vacation needs.
Directions to Charleston Cruise Port
From the West (east on I-26)
Follow I-26 East into Charleston and take exit 219-B (Morrison Drive/East Bay Street) and turn left at the foot of the exit ramp. Cross over King Street then Meeting Street. Continue on Morrison Drive, it will change to East Bay Street. Continue along that road. Follow the green highway signs to Union Pier Terminal (the route is also marked with small brown-and-white signs bearing a cruise ship logo). Soon you will pass a U.S. Post Office on the right. Continue to Chapel Street at the traffic light and turn left. Continue to follow the green highway signs to Cruise Ship Terminal/Union Pier Terminal. Chapel Street will change to Washington Street. Continue on Washington Street, then turn left on Charlotte Street and right onto Concord Street. Passengers can enter Union Pier Terminal through Gate 2 at the intersection of Concord and Laurens Streets.
From the North (south on U.S. Highway 17)
Drive through Mount Pleasant and enter the Charleston area, following the Highway 17 South signs to cross the Arthur Ravenel Jr. Bridge. Take the first exit on the right (Morrison Drive/East Bay Street) and then turn left onto East Bay Street. Follow the green signs to Union Pier Terminal. When you reach the U.S. Post Office on the right, follow directions above.
From the South (north on U.S. Highway 17)
As you come into the Charleston area on Highway 17 North, follow the signs to I-526 East. Once on I-526 East, take exit 17 to I-26 East toward Charleston. Take Exit 219-B (Morrison Drive/East Bay Street) then turn left at the end of the ramp. From here, follow Morrison Drive to where it changes to East Bay Street and continue on this road. Follow the green signs to Union Pier Terminal. (Smaller brown-and-white signs marked with a cruise ship also mark the route.) When you reach the U.S. Post Office on the right, follow directions above.
To take a cab from the Charleston International Airport to the cruise terminal, expect to pay approximately $25.
Rideshare services are widely available in Charleston. To ride with Uber from the airport costs approximately $23; Lyft is approximately $16.
Getting There by Public Transportation
Bus: Charleston Area Regional Transportation Authority (CARTA) operates bus service in and around the city, including service from Charleston International Airport to Transit Mall downtown, though not to a location convenient to the cruise port. To get downtown from the airport, take the Route 4 Express bus to the Charleston Visitors Center, approximately 0.75 miles from the cruise terminal. There is no bus service to the cruise terminal proper.
Amtrak to Charleston Cruise Port
The nearest Amtrak station is in North Charleston near the airport. To get to the cruise terminal from the Amtrak station, walk 0.3 miles to the nearest bus stop and take the Number 10 to the Charleston Visitors Center and Transit Mall. From here, it's a walk of 0.75 miles to the cruise terminal. There is no bus service available to the port, so you'll need to arrange for a taxi or rideshare.
Rental Car Services in Charleston Near the Cruise Port
There is a trio of rental car services available within a few blocks of the cruise terminal. On the corner of Meeting and Mary Street, you'll find Enterprise Rent-A-Car, Avis Rent A Car and Budget Rent A Car.
Charleston Cruise Port Parking
If you are parking at the cruise terminal, you will need to enter the car queue for a parking permit and to offload any luggage and passengers before you proceed to the parking area. Parking is in a covered building a short distance from the terminal (follow the signs or the traffic).
Expect to pay for parking upon arrival to the port. Rates are $17/day for standard vehicles and $40/day for oversized vehicles (like campers and RVs); complimentary parking is extended to vehicles with valid handicap permits (provided the permit holder is traveling in the vehicle).
Porters are available to assists with luggage during embarkation and debarkation.
What time to Arrive/Embarkation
Embarking passengers can arrive as early as 11:30 a.m. for parking permits, security screening and ticketing. However, you can arrive between 9 and 11 a.m. for early luggage drop-off (available only to passengers with early flight arrivals or early hotel check-outs). Since the port is small, it's best to arrive early to avoid congestion around parking and security. Please use the time listed or suggested by your cruise line to estimate your arrival time.
Wheelchair service is available at Charleston Cruise Port once you enter the terminal after parking. Please let a Welcome Agent know of your need and they will have a porter assist you and direct you to the proper security line. You will need to arrange for onboard wheelchair service with your cruise line.
Where to Eat or Shop Near Charleston Cruise Port
There are no dining or shopping options inside the cruise terminal, but nearby there are plenty of choices for both. Fleet Landing Restaurant & Bar, 5Church Charleston, Grill 225, Slightly North of Broad (called SNOB by locals), PawPaw – Southern Plates and Amen Street Fish & Raw Bar are all an easy two- to five-block walk from the terminal. Shopping -- boutiques, gifts, local crafts, art galleries and gourmet shops -- is available along East Bay Street (two blocks away) and within a two- to three-block walk from the terminal.
Bathrooms are available to the right of the entrance to the terminal building both upstairs and downstairs.
Wi-Fi at Charleston Cruise Port
Free Wi-Fi is available at the Charleston Cruise Port.
Where to Store Luggage
Due to security restrictions, there is no luggage storage available at Charleston Cruise Port.
Where to Sit
There is little seating available at Charleston's cruise port.
More Tips for Charleston Cruise Port
There are several hotels within easy walking distance of Charleston Cruise Port: HarbourView Inn, The Vendue, The Spectator and a DoubleTree by Hilton are all adjacent. More hotels, some with cruise-and-stay packages (including room nights, parking and shuttles to/from the port), are a short ride from the ship.
As of spring 2017, permits for a new cruise terminal (located 1,000 yards north of the current terminal) are under discussion with the city council. Proponents are optimistic that the permits will be approved and Charleston will have a modern cruise facility within the next couple of years.