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176 Concord Street, P.O. Box 22287, Charleston, SC 29413-2287
Contact: Erin Dhand, Manager, Corporate Communications and Community Affairs
Telephone: 843-577-8121 • Fax: 843-577-8127 • e-mail: EDhand@scspa.com


FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
2/15/2010

Charleston's Year-Round Cruise Season Begins

Charleston, SC - The 1,898-passenger Celebrity Mercury sailed into the Port of Charleston today, kicking off the Holy City's first year-round cruise season that will bring $37 million to the local economy this year.

This is the first of seven embarkation sailings aboard the Celebrity Mercury that continue through April, including 10- and 11-night Caribbean voyages as well as a 16-night transit through the Panama Canal that disembarks in Los Angeles, California. According to the cruise line, the Charleston sailings represent very attractive new cruise options for Celebrity's loyal base of cruisers.

The Celebrity Mercury's next embarkation will be February 26, followed by sailings on March 8, 19 and 29, and April 9 and 19. The ship is also booked for a series of five sailings from Charleston in 2011. For more information or to book a cruise, call your local travel agent, dial 1-800-437-3111 or visit www.celebritycruises.com.

“The Port of Charleston welcomes the start of cruise season,” said Jim Newsome, president and CEO of the SCSPA. “Each ship call will bring an economic boost to the area while supporting jobs in a variety of industries.”

Each cruise ship will bring about $323,000 in local direct spending and will support more than 400 full-time jobs in the Tri-County region in 2010, according to a new study commissioned by the SCSPA.

Accompanying the first cruise ship of the year is a new traffic plan to more efficiently handle passenger vehicles bound for the terminal on embarkation days.

The SCSPA, which owns and operates the Port of Charleston, worked with the City of Charleston Police Department (CPD) and City staff over the past three months to develop the plan. The team developed a new route and entrance point on port property that moves cruise-related traffic off of city streets. Better signage near the terminal and an email notification system for local residents and businesses are additional improvements.

About Celebrity Cruises
Celebrity Cruises is designed for discerning cruisers, with modern, sophisticated environments, impeccable service, enriching and inspiring onboard programs, and world-class cuisine. The ultimate in premium cruising, Celebrity sails in Alaska, Bermuda, California, Canada/New England, Europe, the Pacific Coast, Panama Canal, South America, and year-round in the Caribbean and the Galapagos Islands. Celebrity also offers immersive cruisetour experiences in Alaska, Canada, Europe and South America. Celebrity's mega-series of honors include being named the top mega-ship line in Condé Nast Traveler's annual Readers' Choice Awards (November 2009). Celebrity's fleet currently consists of nine ships. Its $3.7-billion investment in building five stylish Solstice Class ships between 2008-2012 represents the largest newbuild commitment for a single brand in industry history. For more information, call your travel agent, dial 1-800-437-3111 or visit www.celebritycruises.com.

About the South Carolina State Ports Authority
The South Carolina State Ports Authority, established by the state's General Assembly in 1942, owns and operates public seaport facilities in Charleston and Georgetown, handling international commerce valued at more than $62 billion annually while receiving no direct taxpayer subsidy. An economic development engine for the state, port operations facilitate 260,800 jobs across South Carolina and nearly $45 billion in economic activity each year. For more information, visit www.scspa.com.

For more information:
Byron Miller, S.C. State Ports Authority - 843-577-8197 or bmiller@scspa.com

Tavia Robb, Celebrity Cruises - 305-539-6721 or trobb@celebritycruises.com