Monday, September 19, 2011

Charleston Welcomes Cruisers, Really

Despite the billboard that "greets" visitors driving into the city on I-26, Charleston, South Carolina really does welcome cruise passengers.

The environmental groups that sponsor the billboard are in the minority and Charleston's thriving hospitality industry doesn't treat visitors arriving to embark on a cruise any differently than others.

Although we have sailed from Charleston in the past, Mel and I recently spent two nights there for personal reasons and had the opportunity to speak with Eddie McBride, Concierge at Courtyard by Marriott Charleston Downtown/Riverview, where we stayed. Only about two miles from the downtown Charleston Historic District, where the cruise ship terminal is located, Eddie indicated the Courtyard is a popular hotel for pre-cruise stays and even offers complimentary parking to its guests for the duration of their cruise. While there is no hotel shuttle service to the pier, metered taxi services run $2.15 per loaded mile. Eddie, who has worked at the Courtyard since its opening, offers a wealth of information about area attractions and his restaurant advice turned out to be extremely satisfying. At his suggestion, we enjoyed a quiet dinner at the nearby Marina Seafood Restaurant and were quite pleased with the food, service, and view of the sun setting over the water.

Renovated earlier this year, the Courtyard offers views of either the city or the Ashley River. While we reserved a city view room, we were assigned one overlooking the spacious outdoor patio, waterfront swimming pool, and river.

Softened by filmy white drapes with room darkening liners, puffy white duvets, and stacks of cushy pillows, the ketchup and mustard colored decor is pleasant and comfortable. A welcoming letter from the manager included post cards that we could send to friends from the front desk where complimentary postage would be provided. Another welcoming touch was two bottles of Fiji water and Ghirardelli Chocolates.

Long credenza-style cabinetry at the foot of the beds features drawers; a mini-fridge, microwave, and coffee maker behind doors; and a pull-out table that is the perfect height for laptop users to access free WiFi while seated at the desk chair. We also found the table to be an ideal dining spot for a meal we ordered in from a local restaurant.

Although hotel dining is only available in the onsite Ashley River Cafe at breakfast, the 24-hour Market features snacks, beverages, ice cream, soups, and homemade sandwiches and salads. Complimentary coffee service is available in the lobby area's Regatta Lounge, which was a busy spot in the evening with a full service bar and big-screen television.

Back to the billboard, locals didn't comment negatively about the groups responsible for it, but indicated they are very vocal for such a small segment of the population. Noted for its gracious charm and hospitality, Charleston is an ideal port city from which to take a cruise. My advice is to arrive a day or two early and soak in the atmosphere. It doesn't get much better than in this fine old-south city.

For more Charleston information, join Cruise Diva in Cruising From Charleston, The Antebellum Belle

Images © Linda Coffman, CruiseDiva.com

4 comments:

toronto buddy said...

Just be happy that you came back safely. :)

Anonymous said...

After that rave review I hope they compted your water and chocolates.

Linda Coffman, AKA Cruise Diva said...

Yes, they comp everyone the water, chocolates, and post cards. Coffee in the lobby is also free.

As I said, we were there for personal reasons and the hotel didn't 'host' me as a travel writer. Truthfully, my expectations weren't high, but it turned out that the hotel was very nice and the friendly staff was quite accommodating. They even told us about a special rate we qualified for (we were unaware of it because I made the reservation through their web site) and adjusted the bill accordingly.

One thing of note--and this goes for any Charleston hotel--the city adds taxes to just about everything.

Linda

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