Charleston Waterfront

National Treasures


  • Constructed: 1670
  • Location: Charleston, SC

Several years ago, Charleston became a home port for Carnival Cruise Lines. As a result, the number of cruise ships and passengers has increased exponentially, creating significant impacts throughout the National Historic Landmark district. Though the City of Charleston and the Ports Authority voluntarily agreed in 2010 to cap the number of visits by ships, the agreement is not legally binding. Citing the potential threat that uncontrolled tourism poses to the city’s fragile infrastructure and historic character, the National Trust placed Charleston on “watch status” when its list of America’s 11 Most Endangered Historic Places was announced in 2011.

Charleston has long been recognized as one of the most beautiful cities in the nation, with a distinguished record of outstanding historic preservation and tourism management. The National Trust believes that sponsoring a cruise tourism impact study, providing a legal review of enforcement authority on cruise tourism, and participating in community dialogue will help Charlestonians develop tools to protect their city’s rich cultural heritage. The lessons learned in Charleston can also help other communities address challenges associated with growing cruise tourism.

Campaign Goals

  • Define enforceable limits on the size, number, and frequency of cruise ships visiting the city’s piers


Preserve the historic character of this beloved coastal city in the face of growing cruise ship tourism.

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