Charleston cruises depart en route to a wide variety of destinations aboard a wide variety of vessels. Some catamaran cruises carry history buffs to Fort Sumter, where the beginning shots of the Civil War were fired. Schooners depart on sightseeing excursions, showing off Charleston’s scenic side, while sailboats offer romantic sails at sunset. Not every cruise returns in a few hours—multi-night cruises depart for sunny Caribbean islands, leaving from the port along Charleston Harbor.
If you want to see Fort Sumter up close, you need to take one of the Charleston cruises to begin your journey. The national monument is located on an island only accessible by sea. A number of tour companies offer rides, which begin at the Patriots Point Museum or the downtown Liberty Square. This is the same starting part for many of Charleston’s other cruises. The Carolina Belle sets sails on daily sightseeing excursions, a 90-minute narrated tour of the harbor and Charleston’s top attractions with occasional dolphin sightings. You might feel like you’ve sailed right into the past when you step aboard the Schooner Pride. The 84-foot-high ship puts the sails up and follows the wind on afternoon dolphin watches, evening wine tasting excursions, and other event cruises.
For many years, Charleston was not really known as a cruise port. A few Caribbean cruises departed in season, but for the most part, you needed to head to Jacksonville or Cape Canaveral for major excursions. That all changed in 2010 when Carnival started a year-round schedule of cruises to the Bahamas and other island destinations. The modern and well-equipped cruise terminal is easy to reach from downtown Charleston, Interstate 26 and Highway 17, the main route from Myrtle Beach. Secured parking is available at the port for those enjoying Charleston cruises.
Top image: Ron Cogswell (flickr)