“We are building on previous years in three categories, those being the number of passengers, the number of ships and the revenue. It’s been a nice step up in business each year,” said Charleston’s Peter Lehman, vice president of cruise and real estate for the port.
“Looking into 2015, we have 94 calls here, 69 turns by Carnival and around 25 transit calls,” he continued. “We already have (transit) bookings for 2017 and 2018, and we have never had bookings that far out before.”
While a new terminal is still wrapped up in the court system, the port is taking the opportunity to refresh its current building with new paint and bathrooms. New pavement and sidewalks in the area are on the agenda, and the port just added back a 90-space parking lot it previously used.
Overall, transit calls are up, as Charleston has worked closely with New York to build a deployment angle for cruise lines repositioning down the East Coast.
“AIDA loves coming here,” Lehman noted. “All the passengers have read about the south, they’ve read Gone with the Wind and they all want to see Boone Hall Plantation.”
The city is seeing a significant growth in tourism, with 1,500 new hotel rooms being added and an airport being doubled in size.
"There is a proliferation of new restaurants; we are now known as a culinary capital,” Lehman continued. “We are finding this helps our cruise business, people do a bit of research and realize they can have a land and sea vacation.”