Whether you are flying into Charleston or simply live in the area and don’t want to drive to the port, then we have you covered.
First, you should pat yourself on the back for taking alternate transportation to the port. Not only do you save yourself the hassle of navigating to the port and dealing with cruise day traffic, but you are also saving yourself a ton of money.
Parking at the port is expensive ($17 per day!). For a 7-day cruise, that adds up to nearly $120 just to park. Instead, Charleston offers several ways to get to the cruise port for much less than it would cost to drive and park.
In our opinion, Uber & Lyft offer one of the easiest ways to get around any city and to the port, not just in Charleston. After all, there’s a good reason that the rideshare services have seemingly spread everywhere in just a few short years.
Uber and Lyft operate everywhere in the Charleston region, and can also offer rides from the airport. Rides are also very affordable, especially for families (up to four people can ride for the rates listed below).
If you’ve never used these services, they are pretty simple. You download the app to your phone and request a ride. A car should arrive within just a few minutes. All the transaction is handled on your credit card through the app — no money changes hands with the driver.
We’ve rounded up the estimated fares for Uber & Lyft to get to the Port of Charleston. (Note that the taxi fares include a customary 15% tip. Uber & Lyft prices do not. Uber doesn’t use tipping. Lyft makes it optional.)
(First time rider with Lyft? Visit this link to download the app and receive a $15 free ride credit for your first ride. This credit makes Lyft by far your cheapest option, no matter where you are coming from.)
There are several taxi companies in the area that can get you around town. Cabs can be hailed from the airport, or you can call to have them pick you up at other locations.
Expect cabs to cost a little more than Uber or Lyft, but you do get one strong benefit. Multiple people can ride for one fare, making it relatively cheap to get around if you are traveling with a family.
Estimated fares are shown the table above. You can also contact the cab companies directly for more details.
Cruise Line Shuttles
Carnival offers a cruise shuttle between the Charleston International Airport and the cruise port. Fares run $30 per person one-way, or $60 round-trip.
While it is a convenient way to get to the port, we actually suggest going with another option than a cruise shuttle transfer. First, it is expensive. The rates shown above are per person. So a family of four is paying $60 each ($240) just to get to and from the airport to the cruise port. Other options like Uber and taxis usually price based on the car, not the number of occupants.
Second, cruise transfers are extremely limited. In this case, it runs only from the airport to the terminal, and only on the day of sailing. So if you come in early or are staying at a hotel in the area, then the cruise line transfer isn’t a viable option.
If you decide anyway that you would prefer a cruise line transfer, simply contact Carnival directly to book a reservation.
Headed to Charleston aboard Amtrak? The station is located in North Charleston, near the airport — about 20 minutes from the port.
Once you arrive, you’ll still have to find your way about 10 miles south to the cruise port. After getting to the Charleston station, we recommend either catching a taxi or a Uber/Lyft as the cheapest and most convenient way to get to the cruise port.
Independent Shuttles/Car Services
If you are traveling with a larger group or want to ride to your cruise in style, then your best bet is likely to look for an independent shuttle van or private car service. These providers can offer private service to the port, usually for less per person than a taxi or other service, assuming you have a larger group (more than 6 passengers). They can also give you a ride in an upscale car or even a limousine.
We’ve rounded up a sample list of area companies to give you a good start to go from.
The prices quoted by these companies can vary widely depending on what sort of service you need and exactly where you are coming from. However, as a general rule expect it to be a better value the larger a group you need to transport. Be sure to shop around before selecting a service as it can save you considerable money.
One other thing to keep in mind is that the prices you are quoted won’t include gratuity, which can add on another 15-20% to your fare.
Feature Photo: Roland Turner
More on Cruising From Charleston
Charleston Cruise Parking — Parking at the port? We’ve got you covered with all your parking options, including costs and discounts.
Dropping Off at the Port — Dropping off passengers? Not sure where to go once you get to the port? We have turn-by-turn directions to find your cruise terminal.
Charleston Cruise Hotels — Getting in late? Leaving early? Simply need a place to rest your head? We’ve rounded up the options for places to stay near the port.