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176 Concord Street, P.O. Box 22287, Charleston, SC 29413-2287
Contact: Erin Dhand, Manager, Corporate Communications and Community Affairs
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Charleston Racks Up Cruise Honors

Charleston, SC – The Port of Charleston has picked up two distinctions for its place in the cruise business.

For the second consecutive year, Charleston ranks high in passenger satisfaction among ports serving Norwegian Cruise Line's fleet. The October 2005 passenger survey conducted by NCL showed that of nine cruise ships, the ship regularly calling Charleston had the highest satisfaction rate at 90%.

Every Saturday, more than 1,000 passengers board the NORWEGIAN MAJESTY in Charleston for a week-long cruise to the Caribbean. In 2003, NCL became the first line to contract with the Ports Authority for a series of cruises. NCL began its third season of about two dozen weekly sailings this past November.

Charleston was also named one of the world's 10 most romantic cruise ports. The ranking will appear in Porthole Cruise Magazine's January/February issue.

Compiled by a pair of travel journalists who are also romance novelists, Charleston is the only U.S. port included and is listed in the company of Paris, Bora Bora and Rio de Janeiro.

“Teamwork brought these honors to Charleston,” said Bernard S. Groseclose Jr., president and CEO of the South Carolina State Ports Authority.

It takes everyone working together for a ship call to come off smoothly - ships' agents, the stevedores, longshoremen, Customs & Border Protection, Port Police & security personnel, check-in staff, shuttle operators, Ports Authority employees, CVB staffers and others.

In addition, a coordinated marketing effort by the CVB, the Charleston International Airport and the Ports Authority through the “Destination Charleston” brand has enhanced the port's cruise profile.

Charleston is known the world over for its container port, fourth largest in the nation and one of the most productive globally. But when it comes to cruises, Charleston is still a small player.

The Ports Authority considers the cruise business to be a niche operation, effectively limited by the Passenger Terminal dock, its facilities and available parking.

“Although the cruise business is relatively small and is leveling out, it's a good complement to the local tourism industry,” said Groseclose. “We are interested in a long-term, stable future for the cruise operation in the Port of Charleston.”

The port handled 57 cruise vessels and 104,000 passengers in 2004, up from 2003. The current year should finish about even with last year. In contrast, major cruise destinations like Miami host several million cruise passengers each year.

There are already 46 cruise calls on the 2006 calendar, featuring the NCL embarkations, two Carnival embarkations, the small coastal vessel NANTUCKET CLIPPER, and 10 port-of-call visits by eight other ships including Holland America's MAASDAM.