South Carolina is saying goodbye to Carnival Cruise Line starting in 2024, and the state is happy to see the company go!
No More Departures
The South Carolina Ports Authority is ending its deal with Carnival, preventing the cruise line from departing from Charleston. Carnival ships are currently using the Union Pier Terminal for departures and arrivals. A lot of those journeys are short — heading to the Caribbean and back. The state’s decision ends a 14-year contract. Carnival will still be able to use the port, but only for the day.
Right now, Carnival Sunshine calls Charleston home, and will continue to do so until early 2024. The last cruise from the South Carolina port is scheduled for April 27, 2024. The 5-day sail will stop in Nassau, Bahamas, and the Carnival-owned island of Half Moon Cay before returning to Charleston one last time.
Charleston officials are applauding the state’s decision, citing a large number of cruise departures throughout the year. In addition to limiting cruise departures, the South Carolina Ports Authority is limiting ships to no more than 104 visits per year and no ship can hold more than 3,500 passengers. Charleston’s mayor says eliminating these departures will allow the city to redevelop the Union Pier Terminal and open up more opportunities for city growth and vitality.
“We’re grateful to the port for taking this critically important step, and we look forward to continuing to work with [South Carolina Ports Authority] to make Union Pier a beautiful and vibrant part of the city of Charleston,” said Mayor John Tecklenburg.
Charleston is following in Key West’s footsteps in limiting cruise departures as a way to control tourism. In 2020, Key West voters approved a measure to severely limit the number of cruise ships allowed to dock there. But, the state of Florida reversed that decision a year later.
Whether you’re heading to Charleston for a cruise or for the weekend this summer, be sure to check out our list of top beaches near Charleston, plus 12 charming vacation rentals.