More Carnival cruises slated to leave from Charleston in 2016; SC port volume strong

Associated Press

More Carnival cruises will be departing from Charleston next year.

The cruise line announced Monday that beginning in 2016, the cruise ship Carnival Sunshine will embark on four cruises.

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The cruises include a two-day cruise, as well as four and five-day cruises to the Bahamas. The fourth cruise will be a 10-day cruise to the Caribbean in May, 2016.

The Carnival Fantasy is already based in Charleston and routinely sails from the city.

South Carolina Ports Authority Chairman and CEO Jim Newsome said that with the new cruises, there will be about 100 departures from Charleston each year.

The authority board learned Monday that container volume during the fiscal year that began last July is up about 15 percent compared to fiscal 2014.

Last month Charleston handled the equivalent of 153,000 20-foot steel shipping containers. That's an increase from about 130,000 in February of 2014. Because steel shipping containers are of different sizes, volume is reported in how many 20-foot containers the cargo would fill.

"It should be a really good fiscal year," Newsome said.

Newsome expects volumes to continue to grow, but because the rate of growth has been so brisk during the past year or so, the percentage increases will be lower.

"We started hitting really good numbers last March so that will slow down the percentages," he said. "I think you'll see in most ports that will happen."

So far the authority has seen more than 700,000 containers move through this fiscal year and projects to surpass 1 million by July 1.

The board also approved an engineering contract for design changes on two new massive cranes that will be coming to its Mount Pleasant terminal next year. The larger cranes are needed to handle a new generation of larger container ships.

Work begins later this year on an $80 million project to upgrade the terminal so it can handle the larger ships.

Vice President Joe Biden and U.S. Secretary of Transportation Anthony Foxx visited the terminal last month. An $11 million federal grant is helping the authority with the work.