Given the lack of major airports in the area (Charleston International is relatively small), many cruise passengers heading out of Charleston elect to drive to the port. In fact, cities including Raleigh, Charlotte, Jacksonville, Savannah, and all points in between are within a manageable drive from the port.
If you are driving into town, this brings up the question of what to do with your car while you are on your trip. As you would expect, there are several options for parking at the Port of Charleston that can offer a convenient place to leave your car while you are sailing. We have details of your options below. (Charleston park & cruise hotels do offer more choices.)
Official Port Parking
The Charleston Cruise Port offers the most convenient parking options, located right at the port and a short ride aboard a shuttle (or walk) to the ship. Most people elect to park here for their cruise.
To reach the lot, you need to enter the port at Gate #2, located at the intersection of Laurens and Concord Streets.
When you first arrive, be sure to have your cruise papers with you. They will be checked as only people sailing on the cruise will be allowed into the port parking area. Once inside the gate, you will be put into a snaking line to pay for your parking, unload baggage, and then park your car.
Parking is both indoor and outdoor. Those arriving earlier in the day will be directed to the indoor parking, until it is full. After that, the port begins using the surface lots. There is ample space for parking, so reservations are not required.
The parking rate is $20 per day for regular vehicles. Campers and RVs are charged $50 per day. Vehicles with handicapped permits may park free of charge. Check and major credit cards are accepted for payment. Cash is not accepted.
Cost: $20 per day
Distance: At port
While there aren’t a ton of options for parking, Palmetto Parking does offer an alternative to parking at the port and at a cheaper price.
The lot is located across the street from the port, at 9 Washington St Charleston, SC 29401. Parking costs $15 per day, or $5 per day cheaper than the Port of Charleston.
Don’t just show up at the lot on cruise day, however. Before you park, you’ll need to purchase a parking permit at 32 Laurens St and pay for your parking in advance. The office is open Monday-Thursday from 9am-4pm and on Friday from 9am-3pm
Payment can be made in cash or check. There is no shuttle between the port and the parking lot, so you will have to walk to the ship.
Cost: $15 per day
Distance: 6 blocks
Hotels with Cruise Parking
It’s a little-known tip, but if you plan to stay in the Charleston area before or after your cruise, then a number of hotels will offer free or discounted parking for your trip. All you have to do is stay with the hotel for one or more nights. We’ve rounded up a list of Charleston hotels with cruise parking specials here.
More on Cruising From Charleston
Getting to the Port of Charleston — Transportation options from airports and the Charleston area to the cruise port. Everything you need to know to get to the port and start your vacation.
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.