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, Atlanta, 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 if you plan to stay in the city the night before your cruise.)
For most people, however, the best option for parking is going to be at the port’s official lot, right next to the ship. Given the relatively small size of Charleston’s cruise market, there aren’t a lot of options, meaning the port is the most convenient and reasonably priced.
Official Port Parking (At the Ship)
The Charleston cruise port offers the most convenient parking option, 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. 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. Money orders and major credit cards are accepted for payment. Cash and personal checks are not accepted.
One note — if you have an handicapped placard or handicapped license plate, then the port doesn’t charge parking fees.
- Cost: $20 per day
- Distance: At port
- Website: http://www.scspa.com/cruises/cruise-parking/
Park & Go Charleston Cruise Port Parking
Given that Charleston is a relatively small port, there aren’t as many independent cruise parking lots like you will find around major ports. Still, there is one option — Park and Go.
The lot is actually an airport parking lot that’s now opened to cruise parking. That means it’s actually right near the airport, which is about 10 miles away from the cruise port. Still, with a daily rate of $10 per day, you’ll save half of what you’d pay at the cruise port for parking at the ship. On a week long trip, that’s $70.
One thing to note is that there is no shuttle to the cruise ship. You’ll need to get a ride to the cruise port (see our port transportation page here). While that’s an added expense, the lower cost of the parking lot more than makes up for the price of the ride.
Park & Go has about 250 parking spaces. For that reason, it’s a good idea to make a reservation online ahead of time before your cruise to make sure there’s a spot for you.
- Cost: $10 per day
- Distance: 10 miles (no shuttle provided)
- Website: http://park-go.com/
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.
Frequently Asked Questions
Is there free parking at the port for disabled passengers?
Yes! These days many ports offer perks like free parking to those with disabilities and veterans, including the Port of Charleston. According to their website:
“Complimentary parking is provided at no fee for vehicles displaying a valid handicap placard or license plate with ID.”
Keep in mind this is only for the official port parking at the pier. Hotels and independent lots don’t offer this perk.
Can I reserve port parking ahead of time?
Are you the type of person who likes to have everything all squared away before you travel? You can pay at the port for your parking, but you can also prepay online ahead of time. You can visit the port’s website here to start the process and have one less thing to worry about on cruise day.
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.