After 10 years of sailing from Charleston, South Carolina, Carnival Cruise Line has announced that its homeport agreement with the South Carolina Ports Authority will not be extended beyond 2024.
This does not necessarily mean the end of cruising from this charming southern port, however, as future development may once again support embarkations and debarkations.
New Terminal to Be Developed, Cruises Continue for Now
The end of Carnival cruising from Charleston is due to continued development of the Union Pier Terminal, projects that will keep cruises from operating from the homeport for the time being.
“While exciting for the future of Charleston, the redevelopment of Union Pier Terminal will unfortunately mean Carnival will no longer homeport a ship in Charleston beyond 2024,” Carnival Cruise Line said in a statement on Wednesday, May 25, 2022. “In the meantime, it is business as usual and we look forward to seeing our guests aboard Carnival Sunshine through 2024.”
Carnival Sunshine is currently the only cruise ship homeported in Charleston. The 102,853-gross ton ship resumed service from the port on January 13, 2022, offering 4-5 night itineraries to The Bahamas, calling on Bimini, Nassau, and Half Moon Cay, depending on the sailing date and cruise length.
The city is scheduled to host several cruise ships and river cruises on day visits throughout 2022, including Royal Caribbean International’s Enchantment of the Seas, American Queen Voyages’ Ocean Voyager and Ocean Navigator, Celebrity Cruises’ Celebrity Summit, Princess Cruises’ Caribbean Princess, and more.
A total of 104 ship visits are currently scheduled for Charleston in 2022, including both homeports and day visits.
While there will be no ships homeported in Charleston after 2024, the city will still welcome day visits in the future. It is also possible that as the terminal and port area is redeveloped, new homeport arrangements may be made, though no such details have been announced.
12 Years of Cruises
Charleston first hosted Carnival Cruise ships as a homeport when the now-defunct Carnival Fantasy first sailed from the port on May 18, 2010. This began a great era of cruising from the southern city, with cruises sailing to The Bahamas, Bermuda, the U.S. Virgin Islands, and other Caribbean ports of call over the years.
In addition to Carnival Sunshine and Carnival Fantasy, Carnival Ecstasy has also offered cruises from Charleston at times.
Charleston offers a great deal for visitors to explore, from rich history in its museums and plantation homes to amazing beauty in botanical gardens to art galleries, harbor tours, delicious dining, and much more.
It hasn’t always been smooth sailing, however. At times, residents of Charleston have protested too many ship visits and development projects that threatened the integrity of the city’s historic downtown.
Will Cruises Return?
While the future port development will curtail homeport operations for the time being, this does not mean that Carnival Cruise Line will not return to Charleston. In fact, the cruise line is eager to continue its relationship with the port and bring travelers to this amazing city.
“It is amazing to see the continued growth of Charleston’s tourism economy, and Carnival is proud to have been a part it of since 2010,” the cruise line’s statement read. “We will work with the Ports Authority to explore future opportunities in Charleston.”
No future plans have yet been announced for where Carnival Sunshine will homeport after 2024, but the ship can be easily redeployed to another city to bring cruises to even more guests. Norfolk, Virginia and Jacksonville, Florida are the closest homeports to Charleston.
Carnival Magic currently sails from Norfolk, while Carnival Elation offers cruises from Jacksonville.