We recently sailed on the Carnival Sunshine for a four-day cruise to the Bahamas out of Charleston, SC. The port in Charleston does things a little differently than any other port I’ve experienced, so I wanted to share with you a few tips and tricks to make you embarkation and disembarkation go a little smoother!


The cruise parking is located off of Laurens St and E Bay St in downtown Charleston. Below is a map of its location and how to get there from Interstate 26. There will be small blue signs when you get closer to the cruise parking to direct you to the appropriate place to park. Be on the lookout!

Tip: If you are on E Bay St. and you see Harris Teeter grocery store, you’ve gone too far.


Parking as of January 2020 is $20 per day. If you want more information about the port or to check current pricing, you can visit the port’s website.

After entering the parking lot, your first stop will be to pay. Have your money ready! Cash is no longer accepted as a form of payment, only credit cards, debit cards, or money orders.

The second stop will be do drop off your luggage with the porters. Make sure all your baggage has the luggage tags already attached so you limit how much you hold up the line of people waiting to drop off their luggage and park.

After dropping off your luggage, the parking lot attendants will direct you to the parking spots.


After parking, follow the signs to Building 324 across the street from where the ship will be docked to check-in. Before entering the building, a port employee will make sure you have your boarding pass and citizenship documentation (passport) ready.

After checking in, make sure your boarding pass is stamped and head out to the shuttles to be taken the ship. There should be someone there making sure your boarding pass is stamped before letting you get on a shuttle, but also be sure to check it for yourself before leaving the check-in agent.

At this time, you can put your passport away (but keep that boarding pass out). You will need that boarding pass to get on the ship (and make any purchases before the rooms are ready) as your ship card is in an envelope in your cabin.

After arriving at the port and exiting the shuttle, you will line up again to go through security and the metal detectors. Once you’ve made it through security, there is a chance for embarkation photos before boarding the ship.


The day before we arrived in port, the cruise director hosted an informational session where he discussed how the process would be handled. If you can’t make it, don’t worry. It will be replayed throughout the day on your stateroom television.

Charleston is what is known as a silent port, meaning that no announcements would be made in order not to disturb the Charleston residents who live close to the port.

However, on our sailing, the cruise director made two announcements the morning of our disembarkation – one for people coming to disembark before they had been called and one to start the embarkation process.

They also ask that you not disturb the residents who live right by the port by searching for your car using your car alarm – however, I did hear at least one person doing it.

On the morning of disembarkation, turn to channel 14 on your stateroom television to see which decks and bag tags had been called.

Once your deck or bag tags have been called, head to deck 3 forward to exit the ship. Make sure you have your passports and sign and sail card ready!

Want more information about sailing out of the port of Charleston with Carnival? Check out my YouTube video below!

port of charleston sc