The Carnival Fantasy in Charleston, SC

One hundred and four ships are expected to call in Charleston, South Carolina, in 2017, with Carnival Cruise Line’s year-round cruise program taking up the majority of the pie. Carnival sails the Ecstasy year-round from the port, and also mixes in the Sunshine seasonally.

According to Peter Lehman, vice president of cruise and real estate for the port, the timeline is moving further out, with the port taking berth reservations into 2020.

“We’ve got bookings into 2020. Now it depends how far out the lines want to book. Charleston continues to rake in awards and that is a good thing,” said Lehman.

Among the new callers is the Mein Schiff 6 from TUI Cruises in 2017, which has two calls scheduled.

There are also scheduled transit calls from Royal Caribbean, P&O, Fred. Olsen, AIDA and others.

“The beauty of Charleston is the terminal is right downtown. It allows folks to walk around,” Lehman said.

Among recent enhancements, the port recently paved the entire terminal area to better handle passenger flow.

Niche and luxury ships are able to stay late or overnight in the port. The Silver Explorer will overnight in October, while the Europa 2 from Hapag-Lloyd Cruises and the Seabourn Quest are also scheduled to stay late, as are ships from Oceania, Crystal and Regent.

“They’re taking advantage of being here longer. We want them to spend the night,” said Lehman. “Charleston is a city where the visitors’ bureau has done a phenomenal job making it a want-to-go-to place. The restaurant infrastructure is fantastic.”

A new Volvo plant has added 4,000 local jobs, to go along with recent additions from BMW and Boeing. As well, the tech sector is growing with millennials moving to the South Carolina city, while boomers eye the city as a retirement location – all good for passenger sourcing.

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