CHARLESTON, S.C. (AP) — Cruise ships will no longer start their journeys from Charleston by the end of 2024, the South Carolina Ports Authority said.
The authority decided to not renew a deal with Carnival Cruise Line that allowed cruises to begin and end from the Union Pier Terminal in downtown Charleston.
Cruise ships can continue to dock at Charleston, but only for brief, same-day port of call stops, The Post and Courier of Charleston reported.
The decision should cut the number of cruise passengers in Charleston down by 80%, officials said.
The State Ports Authority said it will no longer work on plans to redevelop a warehouse at the Union Pier into a cruise terminal. Permits to start the project have been tied up for years by lawsuits from conservation and historical preservation groups.
Instead, the authority said it will look into selling the land it owns to a private developer.
Charleston Mayor John Tecklenburg said the decision by the authority will improve the quality of life in his city.
“We’re grateful to the port for taking this critically important step, and we look forward to continuing to work with (State Ports Authority) to make Union Pier a beautiful and vibrant part of the city of Charleston,” Tecklenburg said.
Currently, about 70 cruises a year leave Charleston for the Bahamas and other Eastern Caribbean destinations.
Carnival Cruise Line officials said they will continue to work with the authority to find options to use Charleston.
“In the meantime, it is business as usual, and we look forward to seeing our guests aboard Carnival Sunshine through 2024," Carnival spokesman Matt Lupoli said.
After that deal is finished, the Ports Authority said it will continue to follow a voluntary limit of no more than 104 cruise ship visits a year, and no stops by ships that carry more than 3,500 passengers.