The Oceania Marina docked in Charleston today, marking the first of 21 port-of-calls expected in 2011.

At the same time, the South Carolina Ports Authority is moving ahead with major investments to its cruise infrastructure.

“The cruise ships visiting Charleston reflect our position as a world-class city, a world-class destination and a world-class port,” said Jim Newsome, president & CEO of the South Carolina Ports Authority.  “Port-of-calls compliment our embarkation schedule, generating additional spending at local shops, restaurants and attractions.  That means money and jobs.”

This year, 15 different ships owned by 11 different companies representing the world’s finest cruise brands will make 21 stops in Charleston.  This includes inaugural calls by two new luxury ships, as well as visits by The World and Cunard’s Queen Victoria.  The average capacity of these ships is about 1,185 passengers.  In all, nearly 25,000 passengers are expected to arrive on the port-of-call ships.

“The number, size and quality of the ships, as well as effective management of the business, ensure that cruises continue to fit within the context of Charleston,” said Newsome.  “That brings the benefits of jobs and economic activity while preserving the city’s character, which is why cruise ships and their guests visit Charleston.”

Half of the ships sailing to Charleston this year are part of the Carnival Corporation family of cruise brands.

Other brands are also well represented in 2011. The Crystal Symphony returns to Charleston in September. In addition to the Marina, Charleston will host two visits by the Oceania Regatta. Oceania Cruises is owned by Prestige Cruise Holdings, which also owns Regent Seven Seas Cruises. The 490-guest Seven Seas Navigator is scheduled to return for four calls.

Also returning to the Port of Charleston is a visit in April by The World, the condo-style luxury ship with 165 private units operated by ResidenSea. The World’s owners and guests may board at any port as the ship circumnavigates the globe.

Hapag-Lloyd Cruises’ Columbus, owned by the parent company of one of the port’s cargo carrier lines, and Classic International Cruises’ Princess Danae are scheduled to make one call each.

At the same time, the South Carolina Ports Authority is moving ahead with major investments to its cruise infrastructure. A new, state-of-the-art gangway linking the terminal to cruise ship loading doors is being constructed onsite for deployment in April. The $2.75-million passenger loading bridge features a hydraulic system to change the elevation and match up with doors on various ships.

Also, the Ports Authority recently awarded a $2.4-million design contract for the new cruise terminal to a team led by CH2M Hill. Work to renovate and convert an existing maritime structure into the terminal will begin later this year and the facility is targeted to open by late 2012.

2011 Port-of-Calls

March 31 – Oceania Marina

April 5 – Princess Danae

April 13 – Oceania Regatta

April 17 – Seven Seas Navigator

April 23 – The World

May 24 – Veendam

June 10 – Arcadia

September 11 – Crystal Symphony

September 23 – Aida Luna

September 28 – Oceania Regatta

September 30 – Seven Seas Navigator

October 16 – Columbus

October 19 – Seaborne Sojourn

October 20 – Oriana

October 21 – Aida Luna

October 24 – Crown Princess

October 25 – Seven Seas Navigator

October 27 – Aida Aura

October 31 – Seven Seas Navigator

November 4 – Aida Luna

December 5 – Queen Victoria