Cruises out of Charleston will depart from the Port of Charleston, just a few blocks away from Charleston's historic downtown. Charleston's proximity to 33 major metropolitan areas and its reputation as a premier city for food and drink makes its port popular among cruisers.
Read on for our breakdown of the Port of Charleston, including address information, cruise line terminals, directions, services and more. Also, be sure to check out Cruise Critic's ranked cruise deals from the Charleston cruise terminal and see what tips, tricks and secret advice our Cruise Critic members have to say about cruises from the Port of Charleston.
Union Pier Terminal
32 Washington Street
Charleston, SC 29401
The Port of Charleston has just one cruise line that homeports there: Carnival Cruise Line.
If you’re planning to take your car, below are directions for the 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 end of the exit ramp. Cross over King Street then Meeting Street. Continue onto Morrison Drive, which 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.
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 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 signs to Union Pier Terminal. When you reach the U.S. Post Office on the right, follow directions above.
If you are parking at the cruise terminal, you will need to enter the car queue for a parking permit and offload any luggage and passengers before proceeding to the parking area. Parking is in a covered building a short distance from the terminal (follow the signs or the traffic). Reservations are not required.
Expect to pay for parking upon arrival to the port. Cash and checks are no longer accepted, so have your credit or debit card ready. Money orders are also acceptable. Per-day rates vary depending on vehicle size; complimentary parking is extended to vehicles with valid handicap permits (provided the permit holder is traveling in the vehicle).
Be sure to check out SC Ports Authority's cruise parking information for up-to-date rates.
After parking, go to Gate 2 (located at Concord and Lauren streets) for check-in. There’s also free shuttle service between the parking lot and the passenger terminal.
Charleston International Airport (CHS) is about a 25-minute drive from the cruise terminal. While public transportation may not be the most convenient option, taxis are readily available outside the terminal.
Rideshare services such as Uber and Lyft also operate at the airport. To meet the driver, follow the rideshare signs in the Baggage Claim area and cross both roadways. Turn right at the last sidewalk and wait at the covered area.
Shuttles to the Port of Charleston are currently not available at Charleston International Airport.
Charleston Area Regional Transportation Authority (CARTA) operates bus service in and around the city, including service from Charleston International Airport to Transit Mall downtown. However, this bus service doesn't serve a convenient station or stop to the cruise port.
Taxis can be requested at the Ground Transportation booth located in the Arrivals area or right outside Baggage Claim. The drive from the Charleston International Airport (CHS) to the cruise terminal takes about 20-25 minutes. You’ll have to enter the cruise terminal via the Union Pier Main Gate (located at 32 Washington Street).
There are no dining or shopping options inside the cruise terminal, but nearby there are plenty of choices for both.
You can find multiple restaurants offering Southern and international cuisine within five blocks of the terminal. Shopping (boutiques, gifts, local crafts, art galleries and gourmet shops) is available along East Bay Street and within a 10-minute walk from the cruise port.
The nearest Amtrak station to the Charleston cruise port is in North Charleston close to the airport. Getting to the cruise terminal from the Amtrak station by public transport requires two buses and a 10-minute walk. Arranging for a taxi or rideshare would be more convenient, as it’s about a 20-minute drive from the train station.
Wheelchair service is available at Charleston Cruise Port once you enter the terminal after parking. Inform a Welcome Agent of your need, and they will have a porter assist and direct you to the proper security line.
If you require a wheelchair onboard your cruise, you can either provide your own or arrange this service with your cruise line ahead of time.
Porters are available to assist with luggage during embarkation and disembarkation at the Charleston cruise terminal.
Bathrooms are available to the right of the entrance to the terminal building both upstairs and downstairs.
Free Wi-Fi is available at the Charleston cruise port.
There is little seating available at Charleston's cruise port.
Luggage storage: Due to security restrictions, there is no luggage storage available at the Port of Charleston.
Rental car services: 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. You’ll have to take a taxi from there to the Port of Charleston.