Charleston & Mt Pleasant, SC: Cruise Ports on the Rise
Mount Pleasant, South Carolina, is set to be the newest cruise port in the United States, opening this month. Since the nearby port of Charleston is at its limit of 104 cruise ships per year, Mount Pleasant is a viable option for smaller vessels that carry hundreds of passengers instead of thousands. The Coast Guard approved the plan which will allow arrival into Fort Sumter at Patriots Point. Proponents of the idea said visiting passengers would bring money into the town with little negative impact. Also, passengers would be just a 30-minute ride from downtown Charleston.
Only ships coming from American ports would be allowed to dock in Fort Sumter for safety reasons. Once docked at the pier, buses and other transportation would take passengers on local excursions. Plantation trips, shopping downtown, and a day at the beach, are just some of the options for those arriving in port. Most ships would arrive in port around 7:30 A.M., and depart by 6:00 P.M., and can only anchor for 72 hours. Similar to the port in Charleston, security will be offered by the vessel and off-duty police officers from Mount Pleasant Police Department so visitors can expect a safe, enjoyable experience.
In addition to this ground-breaking news in Mount Pleasant, the South Carolina Port Authority is seeking a new $35 million cruise terminal in Charleston. Some, including the Southern Environmental Law Center, are looking for a balance that allows cruise tourism while protecting the charm of historic downtown. The non-profit organization fears that a bigger facility, hosting larger cruise ships, would create more air pollution and traffic on cruise days.
SELC has initiated an effort to adopt limits on the size of ships and the number of ships docking each year. They are also spearheading the idea of "shore power," which would allow cruise ships in port to connect to electricity rather than idling their diesel engines. A decision about the cruise terminal has not been made at this time. As the story unfolds, SELC will keep advocating for a balance between a thriving cruise industry while protecting historic downtown Charleston.
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