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About Charleston - South Carolina

Nestled on South Carolina's Atlantic coast, the colonial port of Charleston is the oldest city in the state and claims to be one of America's loveliest. Originally an important seaport and major slave trading centre, today the cobblestone streets of Charleston's
large downtown district are lined with tall, narrow houses flaunting ornate iron balconies, wooden shutters and shaded porches - timeless features of southern architecture.

Amongst piazzas and plantations, mansions that once belonged to wealthy colonial merchants masquerade as museums, with National Russell and Heywood-Washington House being two of the finest. Beauty exudes from the magnificent gardens of Magnolia and White Point, and after a carriage ride around the city pay a visit to Mount Pleasant or the area west of Ashley River.

Charleston Museum offers a unique insight into the city's history, and the fascinating spectacle of South Carolina Aquarium offers fabulous views over the harbour where Fort Sumter, a national monument commemorating the first shots of the American Civil War, stands proud.

 

Shore excursions in Charleston - South Carolina

Please note: The shore excursions listed are typical for this port. The full programme of shore excursions available for your cruise will be displayed on Cruise Personaliser at least 12 weeks prior to departure.

Beidler Forest Boardwalk

Activity medium

Duration: 4 hours

Discover the beauty of Beidler Forest on a guided boardwalk through its unique and dynamic ecosystem.

Francis Beidler Forest is situated within the Four Holes Swamp, a matrix of black water sloughs, lakes and ancient trees. Its outstanding natural beauty, wildlife and tranquil setting attracts visitors looking to experience South Carolina’s low country.

Follow your guide as you stroll along the 1½ mile man-made boardwalk trail that will take you into the heart of the swamp. The forest contains groves of giant bald cypress trees, tupelo gum trees, laurel oak and water ash trees. It’s home to a variety of mammals, reptiles and amphibians, and bird watchers particularly love this area as a recorded 140 species have been spotted.

After your walk, you’ll have a brief opportunity to visit the gift shop, before the return drive to Charleston.

Essential information

This tour will operate by coach and on foot. The drive to Beidler Forest is around 1 hour each way. This tour involves around 1½ hours of walking over relatively flat surfaces. Flat, comfortable non-slip shoes are recommended. A complimentary bottle of water will be offered on the coach. This tour will operate in all weathers. Please dress according to the weather and take sun protection.

Beidler Forest Boardwalk

Charleston Carriage Ride

Activity low

Duration: 1 hour

Hop aboard a carriage and enjoy the sights of Charleston, a seaport that has remained the cradle of southern history and charm.

Originally settled by the British in 1670, Charleston, South Carolina, is one of the few cities in North America that can boast a wealth of history and elegance. Take a leisurely ride through narrow streets and alleyways as you’re carried past carefully restored 18th and 19th century homes and buildings. Your knowledgeable guide relates 300 years of history to the accompaniment of the clip clopping of hooves along the road. The scent of tea olive from nearby gardens lingers in the air while you capture images of Charleston during this relaxing scenic tour.

Essential information

This tour will operate by carriage and on foot. Passengers are advised that they are required to walk half a block to the carriage loading area as the horses are not allowed into the docks. To board the carriage there is a large step up. The carriages are 16 seat surreys drawn by 2 horses or mules.

Charleston Tea Plantation

Activity medium

Duration: 3½ hours

Discover the Charleston Tea Plantation on a guided tour and trolley ride, and sample an American classic tea.

Situated in the heart of the Low Country of South Carolina, on a stretch of land known as Wadmalaw Island, is the Charleston Tea Plantation. Connected to the mainland by bridge, the island is just 10 miles long and 6 miles wide and offers the ideal climate for propagating tea.

Setting off from the port, you’ll take a scenic drive passing by beautiful marshlands and through lovely oak-shaded roads. En-route, your knowledgeable guide will provide an interesting commentary on the large plantations that once occupied the area. Upon arrival at the plantation, you’ll enjoy a fascinating audio visual tour of the Tea Factory and learn first hand how tea is made. Discover how tea planters brought their finest tea bushes from China, India, and Ceylon to the South Carolina Low Country more than 100 years ago, and how the plantation was established. You’ll also take an informative and enjoyable narrated trolley ride though the tea fields. During your visit, there will be an opportunity to try a sample of the tea and perhaps purchase a souvenir from the gift shop.

Afterwards, sit back and relax and enjoy more of the countryside surroundings on the return drive to the port.

Essential information

This excursion will operate by coach, trolley and on foot. This tour involves a moderate level of walking over relatively flat ground, including some steps. Flat, comfortable shoes are recommended.

Charming Charleston Panoramic

Activity low

Duration: 2 hours

Tour Charleston, one of the most beautiful and historic cities in the south.

Charleston has an abundance of beautiful stately homes with lush manicured gardens, magnificent public buildings and majestic churches.

Sit back and enjoy the changing scenery as you drive through the 18th and 19th century districts. En-route you’ll pass by the College of Charleston, founded in 1770 and the oldest educational institution south of Virginia. Travelling through Harleston Village you’ll see the streets are all named after prominent men of the period, from England and the Province. The city also has a strong military background with The Citadel, The Military College of South Carolina and the famous Battery with its elegant town houses built by the wealthy planters and merchants of the day. Enjoy a brief photo stop at the Battery and admire Hampton Park, with its 60 acres of parkland and ancient Oaks lining the pathways.

Before returning to the ship, you’ll see the intersection known as the ‘Four Corners of the Law’, due to the institutions representing federal, state, local and ecclesiastical law. St Michael’s Episcopal Church stands on the south east corner, on the north east is Charleston City Hall, to the north west is the County Courthouse and on the south west is the US Post Office, and federal Courthouse.

Essential information

This tour will operate by coach. Passengers must be able to negotiate steps on to and off the coach.

Magnolia Gardens

Activity high

Duration: 4 hours

Magnolia Gardens are described as one of the most beautifully romantic gardens in the world with over 325 years of history.

Magnolia Gardens were once a great cypress swamp area and prior to the war days were turned into these now beautiful gardens by Rev John Drayton. They have now been in the Drayton family for over 3 centuries and each generation takes pride in expanding the gardens and adding to their variety.

After spending time walking the numerous paths the gardens have to offer, you’ll board your open-sided tram for a 45 minute tour of the swamp areas. Here, in their natural environment, you’ll have the opportunity to perhaps spot alligators, turtles and egrets. You never know what you may see in these natural wetlands and marshes.

Enjoy some free time to visit the petting zoo. The owners work with local animal rescue groups to provide a home to orphaned deer, raccoons and birds. A wonderful tour to experience some truly natural gardens and swamps.

Essential information

This tour will operate by coach and on foot. Comfortable, flat, walking shoes are recommended. There is approximately 2½ hours of walking included in the gardens on flat natural paths.

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