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Charleston Cruises 2024/2025

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Charleston Travel Guide

Imagine stepping into a living history book where every cobblestone and corner tells a story. That's Charleston, South Carolina, for you—a city where the past is not just remembered; it's vibrantly alive. It's one of the oldest cities in the United States, founded in 1670, and has more than its fair share of stories to tell. Charleston is a city that invites travelers to explore its rich tapestry of history, culture, and Southern hospitality.

What sets Charleston apart is its ability to blend the old with the new. The historic downtown district, with its well-preserved architecture, sits comfortably alongside trendy boutiques and eateries. This city doesn't just welcome you; it embraces you with a warm climate, picturesque beaches, and a culinary scene that's as inventive as it is delicious.

In this article, we'll take you through the city's subtropical climate that graces the area with mild winters and warm summers, making it a year-round destination. We'll walk you through the geography that boasts a stunning coastline, explore the deep-rooted history that dates back centuries, visit must-see attractions that tell tales of the city's resilience, and dive into the food culture that will have your taste buds dancing with delight. Get ready to discover Charleston, a city that's as charming as it is historic. With cruise line volume buys plus our low everyday prices you can save up to 80% versus the brochure price! Book your Charleston cruise today with AffordableTours.com, your discounted cruise headquarters.

Charleston Travel Guide

Cruises

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Carnival SunshineBahamasCharlestonCharleston4 NightsCharleston, South Carolina | Nassau, Bahamas$639
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49 reviews
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Carnival SunshineBahamasCharlestonCharleston5 NightsCharleston, South Carolina | Half Moon Cay, Bahamas | Nassau, Bahamas$812
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Carnival SunshineBahamasCharlestonCharleston5 NightsCharleston, South Carolina | Nassau, Bahamas | Princess Cays, The Bahamas$744
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49 reviews
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Carnival SunshineBahamasCharlestonCharleston4 NightsCharleston, South Carolina | Nassau, Bahamas$639
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49 reviews
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Carnival SunshineBahamasCharlestonCharleston5 NightsCharleston, South Carolina | Half Moon Cay, Bahamas | Nassau, Bahamas$822
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49 reviews
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Carnival SunshineBahamasCharlestonCharleston5 NightsCharleston, South Carolina | Half Moon Cay, Bahamas | Nassau, Bahamas$669
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49 reviews
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Carnival SunshineBahamasCharlestonCharleston4 NightsCharleston, South Carolina | Nassau, Bahamas$649
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49 reviews
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Carnival SunshineBahamasCharlestonCharleston5 NightsCharleston, South Carolina | Half Moon Cay, Bahamas | Nassau, Bahamas$689
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49 reviews
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Carnival SunshineBahamasCharlestonCharleston5 NightsCharleston, South Carolina | Nassau, Bahamas | Princess Cays, The Bahamas$699
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49 reviews
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Carnival SunshineBahamasCharlestonCharleston4 NightsCharleston, South Carolina | Nassau, Bahamas$662
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49 reviews
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Carnival SunshineBahamasCharlestonCharleston5 NightsCharleston, South Carolina | Half Moon Cay, Bahamas | Nassau, Bahamas$679
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49 reviews
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Carnival SunshineBahamasCharlestonCharleston5 NightsCharleston, South Carolina | Half Moon Cay, Bahamas | Nassau, Bahamas$609
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49 reviews
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Carnival SunshineBahamasCharlestonCharleston4 NightsCharleston, South Carolina | Nassau, Bahamas$552
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49 reviews
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Carnival SunshineBahamasCharlestonCharleston5 NightsCharleston, South Carolina | Half Moon Cay, Bahamas | Nassau, Bahamas$539
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49 reviews
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Carnival SunshineBahamasCharlestonCharleston5 NightsCharleston, South Carolina | Half Moon Cay, Bahamas | Nassau, Bahamas$514
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49 reviews
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Carnival SunshineBahamasCharlestonCharleston4 NightsCharleston, South Carolina | Nassau, Bahamas$472
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49 reviews
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Carnival SunshineBahamasCharlestonCharleston5 NightsCharleston, South Carolina | Half Moon Cay, Bahamas | Nassau, Bahamas$442
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49 reviews
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Carnival SunshineBahamasCharlestonCharleston5 NightsCharleston, South Carolina | Half Moon Cay, Bahamas | Nassau, Bahamas$442
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49 reviews
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Carnival SunshineBahamasCharlestonCharleston4 NightsCharleston, South Carolina | Nassau, Bahamas$489
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49 reviews
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Carnival SunshineBahamasCharlestonCharleston5 NightsCharleston, South Carolina | Half Moon Cay, Bahamas | Nassau, Bahamas$442
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Charleston Travel Guide

Charleston Cruises Highlights

  • Fort Sumter National Monument: Accessible by a short ferry ride, Fort Sumter is where the first shots of the Civil War were fired. This hallowed ground is a must-see for anyone interested in American history.
  • The Battery and White Point Garden: Offering stunning views of the Charleston Harbor, this scenic promenade is lined with historic antebellum homes and cannons, monuments, and mortars from the city's past conflicts.
  • Charleston City Market: A historic market that has been in operation since the 1800s, offering everything from local crafts to gourmet foods. It's a perfect place to find a hand-woven sweetgrass basket, a quintessential Charleston souvenir.
  • Rainbow Row: A stretch of colorful historic houses on East Bay Street, Rainbow Row is one of the most photographed parts of Charleston. These iconic homes are a visual reminder of the city's vibrant colonial past.
  • Folly Beach: Known to locals as "the Edge of America," this is the go-to beach for surfing, fishing, or simply soaking up the South Carolina sun.
  • Waterfront Park: This park is famous for its picturesque pier and the Pineapple Fountain, an ideal spot for a leisurely stroll or a picnic with waterfront views.
  • The Gibbes Museum of Art: Showcases a premier collection of American art with a Charleston connection, reflecting the city's rich cultural history.
  • Spoleto Festival USA: An annual performing arts festival that transforms the city into a cultural hotspot featuring performances by renowned artists from around the world.
  • Charleston Gaillard Center: A state-of-the-art performance hall hosting everything from ballets to orchestras, offering visitors a taste of Charleston's contemporary art scene.
  • Carriage Tours: These guided tours offer a leisurely and informative way to see the city. Clip-clop through the historic streets as you learn about the city's history and charm.
  • Walking Tours: Dive deeper into Charleston's history, cuisine, or even ghost stories with specialized walking tours that cater to a variety of interests.

Charleston Cruises Travel Tips

  • Sweetgrass baskets are the top souvenir to purchase here. It's best to buy one in Mount Pleasant.
  • Downtown Charleston is not easy to explore in a car since it's a rather historical city. Opt to walk or utilize public transportation instead. However, if you do choose to drive, there are lots of free parking spots available.
  • Charleston is known for its amazing bridges, so try to visit at least a few of them.
  • If you can, try to avoid visiting during the weekend of an event. Prices skyrocket!
  • Charleston is exceptionally casual. Don't be scared to dress in comfortable and relaxed clothing.
  • Though most of Charleston's tourist attractions are downtown, don't forget to explore the rest of the city.
  • The people of Charleston are known to be extremely friendly, so be kind back!
  • Many of the beaches here get very busy later in the day, so try to visit earlier in the morning or visit less touristy beaches if you can.

Charleston Cruises Things To Do

  • Walk along The Battery
    Walk along The Battery

    The Battery is a famous seawall with a breathtaking promenade in Charleston. It's one of the city's most popular historical landmarks. The seawall was used as a defensive unit during the American Revolution. This area was also later used during the War of 1812 and the American Civil War. The Battery is lined by beautiful Antebellum houses, which is what it's most well-known for. Some of the most popular homes here include the Charles Drayton House, the William Ravenel House, and the Villa Margherita.

    You Should Know

    Many locals refer to The Battery simply as "Battery Park." Wear comfortable walking shoes to walk The Battery. It's not that long, but you'll feel a lot better with sturdy shoes!  
  • Visit Sullivan’s Island
    Visit Sullivan’s Island

    Sullivan's Island is an island located in Charleston county, and it's a popular place to visit from Charleston city. It's only 6 miles from Charleston and has a population of about 2,000 people, so it's quaint. However, it's not short of beautiful views. The most popular places to visit on Sullivan's Island include Fort Moultrie, Sullivan's Island Beach, and the Battery Jasper. There's also a beautiful place to hike and walk along the Sullivan's Island Nature Trail.

    You Should Know

    There is no public transportation between Charleston and Sullivan's Island. The easiest way to get there is by driving or taking a taxi. Plan on spending at least a half-day at Sullivan's Island. It's so close to Charleston that it feels like it's part of the city.  
  • Go to the Charleston Farmers Market
    Go to the Charleston Farmers Market

    Charleston has some of the best farmers markets in South Carolina. They are seasonally open between April and November. This is the perfect way to meet up with locals and support those who live in the town by purchasing their products and goods. The most popular farmers market is located in Marion Square. Another popular place to go is to Mount Pleasant, which hosts farmers' markets on Tuesdays. This is the best place to purchase sweetgrass. Vendors sell everything from art to produce at every farmer's market!

    You Should Know

    There is a special holiday market opened in December in Charleston's Marion Square. If you're not interested in seeing a farmers market but want to go to a town event, be sure to check out the Charleston city calendar.  
  • Experience culture at the Charleston Music Hall
    Experience culture at the Charleston Music Hall

    The Charleston Music Hall is a beautiful live music venue inside a 19th-century building. The building has a capacity of just under 1,000 and hosts a wide variety of performers from different genres. There's sure to be something you'd be interested in hearing when visiting Charleston. This building is one of the oldest in Charleston. Many locals may even refer to it as the Tower Depot, which is what it was historically called. It was initially constructed to look like an old medieval castle.

    You Should Know

    If you wish to see a show at the Charleston Music Hall, try to purchase your tickets in advance. This way, you can ensure admittance!  
  • Take photos at Rainbow Row
    Take photos at Rainbow Row

    Rainbow Row is a picturesque group of historic residences. It's the largest bunch of Georgian houses in a row in all of the United States, which is what it's most well-known for. These pastel-covered buildings were constructed back in 1740 when merchants used to live inside them. This area was a slum right after the Civil War though it was revamped in the early 20th century by a woman named Dorothy Porcher Legge. Each house here is unique, and a lot of them are privately owned. 

    You Should Know

    Some people do still live in these homes. Try to be respectful if you take photos here in order not to disturb those who live here.  
  • Learn about tea at the Charleston Tea Plantation
    Learn about tea at the Charleston Tea Plantation

    The Charleston Tea Plantation is a tea manufacturer that offers excellent tours of their facilities. This tea plantation dates back to the 19th century when Dr. Charles Shepard owned it. Later, William Barclay Hall purchased the land and created the first-ever tea fully grown in the United States called American Classic. Today, visitors come to explore the tea plantation and learn about its history. There are trolley and factory tours of the plantation available to guests. It's genuinely one of the great experiences to have while in Charleston.

    You Should Know

    The easiest way to visit the plantation is by driving. It's recommended that you don't take a taxi, Lyft, or Uber because it can be hard to get a ride back to the city once you make it to the plantation.  
  • Take in the sights at Waterfront Park
    Take in the sights at Waterfront Park

    Waterfront Park, also sometimes referred to as the Joe Wiley Waterfront Park is a 12-acre stretch near the Cooper River that opened back in 1990. The park is exceptionally scenic and is filled with benches, walkways, and beautiful areas to sit and relax. The main attraction of the park is the breathtaking pineapple fountain! This illustrious structure helps bring the park to life. The fountain helped the park win the Landmark Award in 2007.

    Best Time To Visit

    The park, though significant, gets quite busy during the day because of its prime location and great spots to relax. To avoid the crowds, opt to visit earlier in the morning.  
  • Check out King Street
    Check out King Street

    King Street is a 300-year-old street in Charleston that was named after King Charles II of England. Historically, it served as the road to get into the older part of the city back in the 18th century. Soon enough, the street was bustling, and it became one of the city's main commercial and entertainment centers. Today, King Street is the place to go for all of the best restaurants, galleries, hotels, and more. It's repeatedly been named one of America's best shopping streets, and it keeps true to its title. 

    You Should Know

    The street is made up of three different districts, each with its own flair. It consists of the Upper King Street Design and Dining District, the Middle King Street Fashion District, and the Lower King Street Antiques District. Wear comfortable walking shoes!  
  • Explore Magnolia Plantation & Gardens
    Explore Magnolia Plantation & Gardens

    Magnolia Plantation and Gardens covers 390 acres and dates back to 1676. This historic plantation and garden is one of America's oldest plantations. It was historically owned by Ann and Thomas Drayton. The main crop grown here was rice. Today, the plantation is the city's most-visited. It's a beautiful place to come and explore the area's history. The Romantic garden is also one of the most famous gardens in all of South Carolina.

    You Should Know

    It's easiest to get to the Magnolia Plantation and Gardens by car. Plan to spend at least a few hours here to explore the area thoroughly. Children under the age of 5 receive free entry into the plantation.  
  • Eat at Poe’s Tavern
    Eat at Poe’s Tavern

    Poe's Tavern is a restaurant named after Edgar Allan Poe, who was stationed on Sullivan's Island in the early 19th century. The area inspired his stories, including "The Gold Bug," and so a restaurant was created in his honor. This restaurant is one of the best places to eat in the Charleston area. They serve everything from burgers to fish tacos. The restaurant has a very casual and laid back vibe that is perfect for families.

    You Should Know

    Poe's Tavern is on Sullivan's Island, which you should also take the time to explore. The bestseller here is burgers, but they also have a great beverage selection.  

Charleston Cruise Packages

Quick Facts

Charleston is a city where each attraction provides a window into the soul of the South. The city's historical landmarks invite you to step back in time, while its parks and beaches offer a chance to unwind and appreciate the natural beauty. The cultural events and hubs pulsate with the creativity and spirit of the city, and the tours offer insights that might otherwise be missed. A visit to Charleston isn't just a trip—it's an experience that will linger with you long after you've returned home.

  • The Best Time to Cruise From Charleston, South Carolina

    Cruising from Charleston, South Carolina, presents an opportunity to explore the city's unique charm, with each season offering a different experience thanks to the area's subtropical climate. Whether you're embarking on a cruise from Charleston or spending time in the city before or after your voyage, here's what to expect each season:  

    Spring (March-May) is a vibrant time for starting your cruise from Charleston. With temperatures ranging from the high 60s to low 80s, the city's gardens and plantations are in full bloom, offering a picturesque setting. Cruising from Charleston in spring means less humidity and fewer crowds, allowing for a more pleasant and intimate start to your journey. The mild weather is ideal for exploring outdoor attractions and enjoying the natural beauty of the city before you set sail.  

    Summer (June - August) marks the peak season for cruising from Charleston, characterized by hot and humid weather with average temperatures in the high 80s to mid-90s. While the heat can be intense, the city buzzes with energy, festivals, and events, creating a lively atmosphere for your cruise departure. Be prepared for the occasional afternoon thunderstorms, typical of the season. Despite the warm weather, cruising from Charleston in summer offers a dynamic and vibrant start to your voyage.  

    Fall (September - November) brings a delightful cool down, with temperatures in the 70s and 80s and a decrease in humidity. This season is a fantastic time to begin your cruise from Charleston, as the city is less crowded and the weather is more comfortable. Enjoy leisurely walks through historic districts or along the coast before boarding your cruise, taking in the relaxed ambiance and scenic beauty of Charleston.  

    Winter (December - February) offers mild and generally pleasant weather for cruising from Charleston, with temperatures typically in the 50s and 60s. While snow is rare, the cooler weather provides a calm and serene backdrop for your journey. Cruising from Charleston in winter often means fewer tourists, allowing for a more tranquil exploration of the city's rich history and culture before embarking on your cruise.  

    The best time to cruise from Charleston depends on your personal preferences. Spring and fall provide an ideal balance of pleasant weather and fewer crowds, making them perfect for a relaxing start to your cruise. Summer offers an energetic atmosphere, ideal for those who enjoy the excitement of a bustling city. Winter presents a quieter and more intimate setting, often with better deals, ideal for a more reflective start to your voyage. No matter the season, cruising from Charleston guarantees a memorable experience, enriched by the city's historical charm and natural beauty.  

  • The Local Charleston, South Carolina Food Scene

    In Charleston, South Carolina, the local food scene is a delicious journey through time-honored traditions and innovative culinary trends. The city's cuisine is celebrated for its comfort and complexity, with dishes that weave together diverse cultural threads. Take, for example, the classic Charleston shrimp and grits, a dish that epitomizes Southern comfort with its creamy, stone-ground grits and spicy, succulent shrimp. Or consider the savory she-crab soup, a rich blend of fresh crabmeat, crab roe, and sherry, creating a flavor that's both refined and deeply satisfying.

    For those seeking an authentic taste of Charleston, the options are as plentiful as they are diverse. Head to the Charleston City Market for a casual foray into local flavors, where artisans serve up Gullah-inspired sweet treats alongside savory street food. For a more formal dining experience, establishments like FIG and The Ordinary have become culinary icons, offering menus that celebrate local produce and seafood with a touch of gourmet finesse.

    Food festivals such as the Charleston Wine + Food Festival transform the city into a culinary hub, attracting chefs and foodies from around the globe. These events are not just about tasting; they're about experiencing the Lowcountry's bounty and the creativity of its chefs.

    The city's food scene is also riding the wave of modern trends. Farm-to-table dining is more than a concept here; it's a practice deeply ingrained in Charleston's ethos, with many restaurants boasting their own gardens or partnerships with local farms. Meanwhile, fusion cuisine is on the rise, with inventive chefs blending Southern flavors with international influences, creating dishes that are both surprising and familiar.

    Whether you're indulging in a decadent meal at one of Charleston's storied restaurants, sampling the variety at a food festival, or discovering the next culinary trend, the city's food scene is sure to delight. It's a place where every meal tells a story, and every dish is an invitation to explore the rich tapestry of flavors that is Charleston's culinary heritage.

  • Winter - December to February - Low Season

    If you want to visit during the least busy time of year in Charleston, then try to go during the winter months. The temperature averages a cool 58°F, and prices are at their lowest. Most must-see locations are open year-round but might have limited hours during the low season.

  • Exploring Charleston, South Carolina

    Charleston sits like a jewel on the East Coast of the United States, nestled in the heart of South Carolina's shoreline. This historic city is a prominent dot on the map of North America, cradled by the Atlantic Ocean to the east and the winding Ashley and Cooper Rivers that famously come together to form its harbor. It's this very harbor that tells the opening chapters of Charleston's long, storied history.

    The city's proximity to water is not just a geographic feature; it's a defining characteristic. The ocean brings with it breezes that temper the warmest of southern days, and the beaches are magnets for locals and visitors alike. Folly Beach, Sullivan's Island, and Isle of Palms offer sandy retreats just a stone's throw from the city's cobblestone streets. Here, the geography isn't just a backdrop; it's a playground for those who love to sail, fish, paddleboard, and soak up the sun.  

    Charleston's charm isn't limited to its watery bounds. It stretches inland with gardens, plantations, and parks that offer a lush contrast to the historic urban core. The surrounding Lowcountry landscape—a tapestry of marshes, palmetto trees, and live oaks draped with Spanish moss—adds to the city's natural allure, beckoning nature lovers and adventurers. This blend of city and nature creates a unique setting where one can marvel at antebellum architecture in the morning and, by afternoon, be lost in the natural beauty of the nearby Angel Oak, estimated to be around 400-500 years old.

    For the active traveler, Charleston's geography is a call to adventure. Kayaking through the marshes provides an up-close look at the area's ecology while cycling the Arthur Ravenel Jr. Bridge offers panoramic views of the city and the sea. Golfers, too, find a haven here, with world-class courses that take advantage of the coastal landscape to challenge and charm in equal measure.

    In essence, Charleston's geography isn't just a fact of location; it enhances every experience, making the city not just a place to visit but a place to be immersed in, a place where every path and current leads to another piece of its unfolding story.

  • Journey through Time: Charleston, South Carolina's History

    Charleston, South Carolina, is a city that wears its history not on its sleeve but in its very streets, buildings, and the stories that echo off its well-worn cobblestones. Founded in 1670 as Charles Town, in honor of King Charles II of England, it quickly became a bustling port city, significant for its role in the trade of both goods and, regrettably, enslaved Africans. Its strategic coastal location made it a focal point during both the American Revolution and the Civil War, with the latter's first shots fired at Fort Sumter in Charleston's harbor.  

    The city's historical narrative is a patchwork of triumph and tragedy, resilience and transformation. As a major port, Charleston was a gateway for international influence, which is reflected in its eclectic architectural styles, from Georgian to Italianate. The city faced numerous challenges, including pirate attacks, fires, earthquakes, and hurricanes, each leaving its mark and shaping Charleston's indomitable spirit. This spirit of survival and adaptation is mirrored in landmarks such as the iconic Battery promenade, the 18th-century St. Michael's Church, and the grand plantations that dot the surrounding countryside.

    History in Charleston is not just about preservation; it's about conversation. The city dialogues with its past, acknowledging the darker chapters while celebrating the cultural richness that has emerged from its complex legacy. This blend of acknowledgment and celebration is palpable in the city's vibrant culture, from the Gullah traditions that infuse its culinary and artistic offerings to the stories told during tours of historic sites. Today, Charleston's identity is inseparable from its history—a history that has imbued it with a cultural depth and a sense of place that is as intoxicating as it is educational. It's a city that offers not just a journey back in time but an invitation to understand how the past can inform and enrich the present.


    One cannot walk through Charleston without feeling the weight and wisdom of history. The city's past is a constant companion as you traverse the French Quarter, with its art galleries housed in centuries-old buildings, or as you walk beneath the haunting beauty of Spanish moss in Magnolia Cemetery. The historic City Market still thrums with life as it did when it was a bustling center of commerce in the 1800s, and the pastel hues of Rainbow Row stand as a testament to the city's restoration and conservation efforts.

  • Get Ready for Your Visit to Charleston, South Carolina

    Charleston, South Carolina, is a city that effortlessly marries historic charm with modern vibrancy. With its well-preserved architecture, storied cobblestone streets, and a waterfront that's as rich in history as it is in beauty, Charleston stands out as a must-visit destination. The city's celebrated culinary scene, from down-home Southern cooking to innovative fusion cuisines, offers an adventure for your taste buds, while the warm, subtropical climate makes it an inviting spot year-round.

    Access to Charleston is a breeze, whether by air with Charleston International Airport nearby, by road with well-connected highways, or even by sea, thanks to its bustling port. Travel packages to this Southern belle are plentiful, often including tours that unveil the city's best-kept secrets and delights.

    Don't just take our word for it—book your trip and experience the allure of Charleston firsthand. Wander through the historic market, indulge in the local cuisine, and let the city's enduring spirit captivate you. Charleston isn't just a place to see; it's a place to be felt and remembered. Make your plans now, and prepare to be charmed by the soul of the South.

Charleston Cruises Frequently Asked Questions

  • What are Charleston cruises?

    Charleston cruises are the best way to go on vacation, travel, and relax all at the same time. Each cruise stops at different port cities for guests to hop off and explore the surrounding area. These cruises are perfect for any type of traveler, including couples, families, and solo travelers.

  • What’s included on a Charleston cruise?

    Each Charleston cruise is different but will include accommodation and dining. There are many other fun activities on every ship, including shopping, golfing, swimming, working out, and more. Most cruise ships also have a club, casino, bar, beauty salon, movie theater, and spa! You'll feel completely pampered during your Charleston cruise with 24-hour room service. Each cabin also comes with a hairdryer, television, and telephone. Youth programs are available on each ship and other fun activities for younger children.  

  • What’s the best Charleston cruise?

    No Charleston cruise is better than the other! It all depends entirely on your needs and budget. If there's a specific end destination that you have in mind, then try to find a cruise that will take you there with other fun stops along the way. Of course, our cruise specialists are always available to talk with you and help you find the cruise that is best suited for your needs and interests. You can call an expert at 1-800-627-3753 to receive help with choosing the best cruise today!  

  • How much do Charleston cruises cost?

    Charleston cruises vary in price depending on the length and amount of stops that each ship makes. They start at around $52 per day and go up in price. However, just because a cruise is listed at a specific amount doesn't mean that's what you'll pay. Affordable Tours often has discounts and other promotions to help save you up to 80% off the advertised price! This can be either taken off right at the beginning or could be in the form of credit on the ship during your cruise.

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