Charleston’s cruise business is set for another strong year. Near the end of every winter, the Ports Authority announces its cruise calendar for the coming season. In 2000, nine different cruise lines will send ships to Charleston. Recognized companies such including Cunard, Carnival, Princess, Premier, Silverseas and Seabourn will offer both cruises leaving from Charleston, as well as stops in the Holy City. The 2000 season begins Friday with the 200-foot coastal cruise vessel NANTUCKET CLIPPER.
Already there are 26 cruise ship visits planned for this year, a strong sign after a record-breaking 1999 when 29,144 people on 30 vessels sailed from Charleston. Port and tourism officials are also encouraged by progress on efforts to loosen regulatory restrictions that have stymied Charleston’s cruise business.
In the cruise industry there are basically two types of activities – embarkations and port calls. With a port-of-call, vessels make Charleston a part of their itineraries, allowing passengers to get off the ship to tour the area’s many attractions, from shopping and sight-seeing to golf and water sports. With embarkations, passengers arrive in Charleston to board the ship to begin their cruise experience.
Local officials have been working together for several years to build the Port of Charleston? cruise calendar, and their efforts are paying off. Port, tourism and airport officials are in Miami this week, touting Charleston as an ideal cruise destination for the industry.
The annual SeaTrade Cruise Shipping Convention attracts more than 900 exhibitors from 100 countries. The Charleston Area Convention and Visitors Bureau, the Charleston County Aviation Authority and the South Carolina?State Ports Authority make the joint promotional trip. It is a fabulous?opportunity to showcase the area? diverse attractions. The coordinated effort proves to decision-makers in the cruise industry just how dedicated our community is to making their business in Charleston a success.
But it does not stop with the luring of new cruise business. When the vessels actually call, the Ports Authority and others on the waterfront seek to offer specialized service for making the visit a success. On the landside, the first people to greet passengers when they arrive are representatives of the CVB. Personal service, congeniality and attention to detail are not lost on the cruise operators or their passengers. This is another version of the “Southern Hospitality” that Charlestonians across the community exhibit that has allowed our area to achieve global recognition as a top travel destination.
The Passenger Terminal’s location in the heart of one of the region? most popular and most visited cities certainly helps. Passengers are within walking distance of shopping, fine dining and entertainment. This proximity is a significant attraction to cruise operators. In addition, the Ports Authority recently made improvements to the Passenger Terminal including new carpeting, interior and exterior work and a new heating and cooling system.
With a strong spirit of cooperation, strategically located Passenger Terminal and its position as a tourism destination, the Charleston area should see its cruise business continue to grow in the future.
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Year – # of vessels – Total Passengers
1999 – 30 – 29,144
1998 – 26 – 17,100
1997 – 13 – 6,209
1996 – 29 – 14,000
1995 – 27 -10,841
March 10 – NANTUCKET CLIPPER (New World Ship Mgmt.)
March 24 – NANTUCKET CLIPPER (New World Ship Mgmt.)
April 7 – NANTUCKET CLIPPER (New World Ship Mgmt.)
November 10 – NANTUCKET CLIPPER (New World Ship Mgmt.)
November 24 – NANTUCKET CLIPPER (New World Ship Mgmt.)
April 18 – NANTUCKET CLIPPER (New World Ship Mgmt.)
July 18- REGAL EMPRESS (Regal Cruises)
July 27- REMBRANDT BALTIMORE 2000 (Premier Cruise Lines)
July 28- CROWN PRINCESS (Princess Cruises)
August 13- SEABOURN SUN (Seabourn Cruises)
August 15 – REGAL EMPRESS (Regal Cruises)
September 26 – CLIPPER ADVENTURER (Cunard Line)
October 20- SILVER SHADOW (Silverseas Cruises)
October 22- SEABOURN PRIDE (Seabourn Cruises)
October 22- SILVER CLOUD (Silverseas Cruises)
October 26- CROWN PRINCESS (Princess Cruises)
October 30- NANTUCKET CLIPPER (New World Ship Mgmt.)