Last time we reported on the drive-up cruise ports trend, readers wrote in to draw our attention to the port in historic downtown Charleston, S.C.—easily accessible for millions of area residents. Cruise lines have also noticed the location's appeal. After years of operating seasonal cruises out of Charleston, as of this week, Carnival Cruise Lines now makes five-, six-, and seven-day voyages to the Bahamas and Key West all year long on its 2,056-passenger Fantasy.
A five-day cruise with stops in Nassau and Freeport currently starts at $409 per person for August departures and $279 per person for January 2011. Next year Carnival plans to add Fantasy cruises to Bermuda. Ship amenities include a huge spa, a pool, 12 bars and lounges, kids' activities, ship-wide Wi-Fi, and WaterWorks, complete with a 300-foot-long water slide.
Sailing out of Charleston comes with the added appeal of the city itself. Local hotels have unleashed a wave of new packages catering to cruise-bound travelers, starting at $109 per night at the Courtyard Charleston Mt. Pleasant, which covers buffet breakfast, cocktails, parking, and a one-way shuttle ride to the port. More packages are available for travel through December 31, 2010 at explorecharleston.com.
PLANNING A TRIP