Union Pier Cruise Terminal

Faces of Cruise Charleston

Cruise Charleston is launching an occasional series, Faces of Cruise Charleston, to share profiles on people who are involved with, enjoying and benefiting cruise in Charleston.

Bill Hall, Owner, Hall’s Chophouse

Where are you from?
'I am originally from San Francisco, Calif.' 

Can you tell me a little about your family?
'I have been married to my wife Jeanne for 40 years.  We have three grown children; Tommy, Stacey and Billy.'

How long have you been in Charleston?
'We moved here four years ago.  My wife and I have always wanted to live in Charleston.'

Have you always been in the restaurant business?
'No, all my life I have been in the hotel/resort management industry.  I have previously worked with the Hyatt on Hilton Head Island at Palmetto Dunes, helped opened the Ritz Carlton in Laguna Beach, Calif., managed the Ritz Carlton in Naples, Fla. and retired from the Vail Resort in Vail, Colo. about four years ago.'

Well I gotta ask; how did you get in the restaurant industry after retirement?
'In my heart, I have always wanted to have my own restaurant and I felt like Charleston needed a good steak house.  So, I opened Hall’s Chophouse in March of 2009.'

Do your children help at the restaurant? 
'Yes, Tommy is the general manager and Billy handles sales/marketing.  I am considered the janitor in charge.'

Do you see many cruisers visiting Hall’s Chophouse on upper King Street?
'Yes, we really try to get to know all of our guests at Halls Chophouse.  We greet each table and know that we receive about five tables per night when a cruise ship is in town.  Most people come to Charleston a day or two before their cruise or they stay a few days after they return from their cruise.  Everyone loves Charleston and say that they will be back.'

Do you think the cruise industry is important to Charleston?
'Yes, tourism is very important to me and the cruise industry is very important to Charleston.  The cruise industry provides jobs year round while sustaining businesses during the off season when some people could be unemployed.  Cruises keep people employed!'

How do you think the new Union Pier Cruise Terminal will impact the city?
'It will be great! We have a beautiful port that the SC State Ports Authority has been working very hard to improve while listening to the surrounding communities.  The new cruise terminal will improve the city through traffic, parking and cleaning up the entire waterfront.

I also hope all businesses - small and large get behind Jim Newsome and Mayor Riley by getting this cruise terminal done!'

Do you have a memorable story about Charleston cruises that you would like to share?
'Not particularly, but I think it is interesting that when I go eat lunch at
Fleet Landing I notice how much people love looking at the cruise ship.  No one complains about it and the kids love it!'

Click here to find out more about Hall’s Chophouse.

What is your name and position at The Sportsman’s Shop?
‘My name is Barbara Tuttle and I am the Retail Manager at the King Street store.’

How long have you been living and working in Charleston?
‘After I received my degree in Recreation from Clemson, I moved to Charleston in 1983. I had a job at the Coastal Center and then came to this store in 1987.’

Why do you love your job so much?
‘My favorite part of working at The Sportsman’s Shop is the customers. I see a wide variety of people come into the store everyday. It is a combination of regulars who have been with us for years, college students, and then tourists. It’s a nice mix and fun to meet everybody.’

Do you see cruises benefiting your store?
‘For sure. Cruises benefit the store in two ways. There are the cruisers themselves and then the cruise ship workers. Crew members often come in looking for stuff to send back home to their families. We are more of a basic sporting goods store. We can provide our customers with reliable options even if they are on a budget.’

Could you share any stories about cruisers that have visited The Sportsman’s Shop?
‘There have been several occasions where folks have forgotten swimwear or shorts for their cruise and we can help them out with that. Lots of people forget shoes too. I had one customer leave them on top of his car and lost them when he started driving.’

How else do you see the cruise industry impacting the city?
‘I am in favor of the cruise industry, because it brings people to Charleston with minimal impact on the city. Cruisers stay in our hotels, eat in our restaurants, and many of them make Charleston a more frequent vacation destination.’

Have you ever taken a cruise?
‘I have taken a cruise. I left from Miami, but if I were to take another I would definitely leave from Charleston. One thing about cruises is that you get on the ship and are so relaxed. But it’s not so relaxing when you get off the ship and have a long drive ahead of you. To be within a short driving distance is wonderful. You could say I am wishfully planning my next cruise!’

What’s your name and position at Charleston Convention & Group Services Inc.?
‘My name is Erin Mellen and I am president of the company.’

How long have you lived in Charleston?
‘I have been a resident of downtown Charleston for about 40 years.’

How did you become involved in the tourism industry?
‘My love for French, history, and travel set the foundation for my work.  I traveled across Europe and Asia after college, while my husband was stationed in Germany with the Army.  We moved to Charleston in 1972 and I realized the city’s potential.  My husband and I started one of the first major touring companies, Heritage Tours & Transportation.  The business has continued to grow!’

When did you transition from Heritage Tours & Transportation to Charleston Convention & Group Services? Is there a difference between the two?
‘Heritage Tours & Transportation involved daily tours in the city with Double Decker busses we imported from England.  In 1986 we sold the company and I started Charleston Convention and Group Services which includes a wider range of services, not just transportation.’

What does Charleston Convention & Group Services offer its clients?
‘We provide full service destination management services. It really involves anything you can think of.  We work with lots of cruise ships, tour groups, corporate groups, and convention groups by planning special events and setting up Charleston excursions for people coming from all over the world.’

How has Charleston Convention & Group Services grown since 1986?
‘It has grown very nicely. Cruisers compose about 40 percent of our business. The number of cruises coming to Charleston has gradually increased over the years, bringing us more and more business.’

How has the cruise industry affected your business?
‘Cruises make up a large part of our business; we would be lost without them. It’s not just us either; all local businesses are involved in tourism.  The cruise industry is beneficial to the entire community.’

What are the most popular excursions you coordinate for cruisers?
‘It is difficult to say, because people from different parts of the world are interested in different things.  Boone Hall Plantation is always popular.  People also love the carriage tours and we are seeing more and more people take walking tours.’

Charleston Convention & Group Services was recently recognized by ResidenSea and The World (a luxury cruise ship) as one of the Top Ten Tour Operators worldwide in 2010.   What does this award mean to you?
‘I was definitely honored and appreciative of the award. It shows how well we work with the cruise lines.’

Do you have clients that return to Charleston and look to you for advice?
‘We have amazing repeat clientele.  When people come on the cruise ship they tend to come back.  And they tell their children, friends, and grandchildren.  We see companies return year after year.  I have even seen military reunions and the veterans come back with their children and grandchildren.  It is wonderful.’

What has your personal experiences been like with cruisers?
‘The cruise passengers we work with are very, very nice people.  They are always delighted to be in Charleston.’

What is your name at position at Boone Hall Plantation?
‘My name is Rick Benthall and I am the Director of Marketing and Public Relations.’

How long have you worked in Charleston?
‘I have been living and working here for almost four years.’

Why do you love living in Charleston?
‘Diversity. I’ve always lived in South Carolina and Charleston is almost like a different country compared to the rest of state. The diversity of the people, the representation of history and what the city has to offer in way of culture is pretty unique.’

What does Boone Hall Plantation offer visitors?
‘We are unlike any other venue in Charleston. We have oak trees that are more than 268 years old that form one of the most spectacular entrances anywhere in the world. These historic trees are really a symbolic gateway between an era gone forever, but never forgotten…and today’s world.  We are also the only plantation with live presentations on site, like the Gullah culture show…and we hold events that are very big on the Charleston social calendar like the Lowcountry Oyster Festival and The Strawberry Festival.’

How has the cruise industry in Charleston affected business at Boone Hall?
‘Over the past three years we have reached out to other markets. When people come see us on the cruise ships, no matter where they are from, they are aware of the plantation. In some of the toughest economic years recently, Boone Hall has seen significant increases in visitation…and we are really grateful for that.’

Besides economically, does the cruise industry bring any other benefits to Boone Hall?
‘The cruise industry connects us to other parts of the world we wouldn’t otherwise know.’

Do you have a specific story that includes cruisers visiting Boone Hall?
‘We know that there is a cruise ship from Germany that comes to Charleston every October. On that day, 700-800 people from the ship visit Boone Hall Plantation and we are packed. Cruisers are wonderful guests.’

From your experience, why do you think cruisers like visiting Charleston?
‘People love our city and the diversity we have to offer. The southern lifestyle is tremendously appealing to them. It’s like watching children discover something new, with a starry look in their eyes. It really is cool.’

To find out more about Boone Hall Plantation visit BooneHallPlantation.com

What is your name and position at Charleston Walking Tours?
‘My name is Tommy Dew and I am the owner of On the Market Tours.’

How long have you lived and worked in Charleston?
‘I have been here almost my entire adult life. I came from Richmond, Virginia to go to school at the College of Charleston in 1985. I have been doing tours for 16 years, since 1996.’

What did you study at the College of Charleston?
‘I have a B.A. in Fine Arts from CofC.’

How did you get into the tourism industry?
‘My emphasis was music and theater, which is why being a tour guide is such a good fit for me. Everyday for a couple of hours I am basically on stage telling the story of Charleston.’

What do you like most about Charleston?
‘Everything! Charleston is the greatest city in the world. We have the amenities of a large city, but we live like a village.’

What do you think about cruises coming and going from Charleston?
‘I think it is fantastic you can get on a cruise ship here.  Cruises bring awareness to Charleston. They bring people from surrounding cities like Atlanta and Charlotte who have never been here before. Cruising is as good as it gets.’

What effects has the cruise industry had on your tour business?
‘I see a lot of visitors who are straight off of the cruise ships and those who came for a cruise once, but are returning to see more of the city. Cruise passengers who take my tours often say Charleston is their favorite port-of-call.’

How is your walking tour different than the other guided tours in the city?
‘Someone doesn’t take a walking tour unless they really want to, which draws a sophisticated crowd. There are lots of ways to enjoy the Lowcountry- buses, carriages, boats and on foot. Walking allows visitors to slow down, see things up close, and soak in the details.’

Visit OnTheMarketTours.com for more information or call 843.853.8687.

Risa Barnes, Carnival Fantasy Cruise Director

What is your name and position aboard the Fantasy?
‘My name is Risa Barnes and I am the Cruise Director aboard the Carnival Fantasy.’

Where are you from?
‘I am originally from Lexington, South Carolina, but now live in Chapin, South Carolina when I am not living on the Fantasy.’

Why did you want to work on a cruise ship?
‘After graduating from the University of South Carolina I took a break.  My mother went on a Carnival cruise and grabbed an application for me.  When she got back she told me about her experience and said “you have got to get on that ship.”  So I applied for every position that was open – and got a job in the food and beverage department.  I owe it all to my mother and love my job!’

How long have been working for Carnival Cruise Lines & were you always a Cruise Director?
‘I have been working for Carnival for 15 years.  When I started I was the first coffee girl in the Coffee Shop aboard the Carnival Destiny and since then have worked my way up.  I have been a Cruise Director for seven years.’

What are you responsibilities as a Cruise Director?
‘I am in charge of the entertainment aboard the ship.  Entertainment consists of the DJs, musicians, and dancers.  I also work hand in hand with the Youth Director. 

What is your goal each day when you and your team are with guests?
‘Our goal each day is to make sure everyone has FUN, enjoys their vacation and forgets about their troubles at home.’

What is your favorite part about interacting with travelers aboard the ship?
‘My favorite part is interacting with our guests.  I love entertaining people, meeting people and having fun.’ 

How often do you get to go home?
‘I live aboard the ship for 6 months and live at home for 6 weeks.  The ship is my home and I love everyone I work with.’ 

Have you ever been sea sick?
‘Never, after 15 years!’

How do you like coming and going from the Port of Charleston?
‘I absolutely LOVE IT!  I love the people, food, beaches and shopping.  When I had vacation from other ships I always came to Charleston to relax on the beach, shop and eat.’   

How does your entertainment staff like Charleston?
‘They love it and we are all so excited about the new terminal…it will be fabulous!’

What does your crew like to do in their down time in Charleston?
‘They love shopping up and down King and Market Streets and eating at great restaurants.  We also love the people…everyone in Charleston is so nice to myself and the entire crew!’

What is your name and position at the South Carolina Aquarium?
‘My name is Kevin Mills and I am President and CEO of the South Carolina Aquarium.’

How long have you lived in Charleston?
‘I came to Charleston five years ago.’

Where did you work before becoming President and CEO of the SC Aquarium?
‘Before moving here, I was the Vice President of Marketing for the St. Louis Zoo for 10 years. I also worked for Cunard Cruises in the marketing and sales department.’

Do you think your position working for the cruise line has influenced the way you run the South Carolina Aquarium?
‘Yes, I think having worked for the cruise industry has helped me to better understand what it means to provide special moments for customers.’

Why do you love working at the South Carolina Aquarium?
‘I love that I get to work at a place where people come to have a good time. People leave the aquarium having learned something they didn’t know before. I am happy to be a part of what people love about Charleston and look forward to serving our visitors in the best possible way.’

In what ways is the South Carolina Aquarium involved in the community?
‘We like to give back in any way that we can. We are very much involved in community partnerships with non-profit organizations, educational groups and government agencies. Our mission is to inspire people to care for the natural world and we achieve this through educational programs and funding.’

How has the cruise industry in Charleston affected your business?
‘We definitely know when a cruise ship is in town.  The aquarium is much busier.’

Are you excited about the new Union Pier terminal in the near future?
‘I am really looking forward to the new passenger terminal becoming our neighbor here at the aquarium.’

What are some of the most popular exhibits right now at the aquarium?
‘Right now the albino alligator is the most popular animal visitors want to see. Besides that, people like to visit our shark tank, loggerhead turtles and otters.’

Click here to learn more about the South Carolina Aquarium.

Jestine’s Kitchen, Dana Berlin Strange

What is your name and position at Jestine’s Kitchen?
‘My name is Dana Berlin Strange and I opened the restaurant 15 years ago.’

Where is Jestine’s Kitchen and what do you serve?
‘We are located on 251 Meeting St. in downtown Charleston.  We serve Southern meals that most people would not have time to make for themselves.’

What is our favorite part of living and working in Charleston?
‘I was born, raised here and always worked here. I don’t know anything different.’

Tell me about what you like to do in your free time.
‘I have a 12-year-old son, so when I am not at the restaurant I am taking him to school or basketball. My free time is his time.’

Who is Jestine?
‘Jestine was my mother’s nanny and my nanny growing up. She raised my mother, me and my siblings.  She spoiled me! I wanted people to know who she was so I opened Jestine’s Kitchen 100% in her honor. The restaurant opened when she was 110 years old, and she died when she was 112.’

Do you have any family working with you at Jestine’s Kitchen?
‘No family, but many of our staff have worked here since we opened 15 years ago.’

How is your business affected by the cruise industry in Charleston?
‘It is affected in a good way. Some people come on ships from other cities and some come to Charleston a few days before they leave on a cruise.  Many cruisers eat with us each day they are visiting Charleston.’

How has media coverage affected your business?
‘Business is good; I do not do any advertising for the restaurant. Word-of-mouth is how people find out about us. The restaurant has been on the Food Network, Travel Channel and in Southern Living Magazine, The New York Times and throughout several books. We have a rule here: If you like it, tell three people. If you don’t, don’t tell anyone.’

There is normally a long line of people waiting outside of your restaurant. What is your secret to this success?
‘No secret - we have been very fortunate. We work hard and try our best to go to every table to make sure everything is okay. We do make mistakes, but try hard to make sure everything is the same everyday.’

Of all of the food Jestine’s Kitchen has to offer, what is the most popular?
‘The meat loaf and fried chicken are very popular, but our big calling card are our desserts like the cola cake, pineapple bread pudding and many more. We have our own bakery called “Jestine’s Sweet Shop” at 54 1/2 Wentworth Street. The shop features the same desserts with additional southern desserts such as red velvet cupcakes.’

Jestine’s Kitchen is open for lunch and dinner Tuesday through Sunday from 11am – 10pm.  Come by soon!

What is your name and position at Charleston Crab House & Palmetto Ale House?
‘My name is John Keener and I am the owner of Charleston Crab House and Palmetto Ale House.’

How long have you been in Charleston? 
‘I have been in Charleston for 30 years.’

When did you open your restaurants?
‘I opened the Charleston Crab House 20 years ago this February and I just opened the Palmetto Ale House on James Island seven months ago.’

Where are your restaurants located? And what do you serve?
‘There are two Charleston Crab House locations; James Island on the Intercoastal Waterway and Market Street.  At the Crab House we serve a large variety of seafood.  The Palmetto Ale House is on James Island on Folly Road and we serve seafood, sandwiches, steaks, salads.’

How did you get in the restaurant business?
‘After college I waited tables and worked at RB’s on Shem Creek in Mt.Pleasant.  I learned how to manage a restaurant at RB’s and then decided to open my own restaurant in Charleston.’

What is your favorite aspect of Charleston?
‘The quality of life, raising a family and the tremendous people in this town are the best.  Charleston residents will do anything for you and you cannot find that anywhere else.’

Are you seeing any positive affects from the cruisers coming and going in Charleston?
‘Absolutely, since buses drop people off on King Street to shop and then make their way to the ship they come by lunch as they are about to board the ship.  It is a great benefit to our restaurant as cruisers keep us busy throughout the day.’

How does your staff feel about the cruise passengers?
‘They love it!  The staff knows who cruisers are as they come through the door.  The cruise passengers are always smiling and so happy since the Crab House is the first stop as they leave on vacation.’

Does any of the cruise ship crew come by the Charleston Crab House on Market Street?
‘Yes, the crew is a great group of people.  They love learning about Charleston and they love our fried shrimp.  The crew is delightful!’

What is the one thing cruisers tell you when you speak with them?
‘The number one thing each cruiser tells me is…”WOW, I haven’t been to Charleston before and I did not know it was going to be like this.  We are definitely coming back another time.’”

Do you think cruise passengers benefit the city of Charleston?  
‘Definitely, they bring a large economic impact to the city with minimal impact on city services.’

Do you have a memorable cruise story?
‘Yes, a few weeks ago a member of my staff was having a rough time and she and another member decided to book a last minute cruise out of Charleston for the weekend to have some fun.  They booked the cruise a day or two before the ship was going to leave.  It was a last minute decision and they had a great time!’

To learn more about the Charleston Crab House click here to view a short video.



Local Attraction, The Old Exchange and Provost Dungeon

What is your name and position at The Old Exchange?
‘My name is Tony Youmans and I am the Director’ (photo right, dressed as British infantry officer).

How long have you lived in Charleston?
‘My father, retired from the Air Force, moved our family here in 1976. That’s also when I began my studies at College of Charleston. I graduated from CofC, class of ’81.’

How long have you been with The Old Exchange?
‘This January actually marks my 8th year.’ 

What’s your favorite aspect about living and working in Charleston?
‘Charleston is truly a special place. The sense of history and unmatched southern charm drew me in from day one. The city has such a deep respect for its historical amenities and a great relationship with Charleston’s natural attributes such as the Port and the surrounding waters. I count my blessing every day when I park in the garage on Concord and walk along the water into work. What a lovely city we live in.’

Can you tell me about your family and children?
‘I have a beautiful wife, Stephanie and two children, ages 5 and 3. The kids love to visit Dad at work. They run through The Great Hall and get to explore The Provost Dungeon. I think it’s great that they can “play” in one of the most historical buildings in the United States.’

How do you feel about cruises in Charleston?  
‘It is a brilliant pairing of industries. Cruises have been a great thing for the Old Exchange Building. We see a large influx of visitors when the Cruise is at port. I have started scheduling additional employees on days when cruisers will be in town. Most of the cruisers we encounter are fairly regional visitors from surrounding states. Many of them plan their arrival and departure so that they have a couple of extra days before or after their cruise to explore the city and visit historical attractions like the Old Exchange Building. That is huge for the local economy.’

Is there anything else you would like to add about Charleston cruises?
‘For me, I see cruises in Charleston as a win-win situation. You can’t deny the positive economic impact and how they are benefitting our local businesses.’

Can you describe your business and what it offers?
‘Few buildings in Charleston, South Carolina reflect the city's early history as dramatically and effectively as the Old Exchange Building and Provost Dungeon. Considered to be one of the three most historically significant Colonial buildings in the United States, the Old Exhange Building is a "must see" when visiting Charleston.’

Click here for more information about The Old Exchange and Provost Dungeon.

Name and position at A Floral Affair?
‘My name is Leann Kolb and I am the owner and chief bottle washer.’

How long have you lived in Charleston?
‘I have lived in Charleston since 1996.  My husband grew up here.  His entire family still lives here.  My parents moved to the area about 6 years ago.  Once you visit, the pluff mud and salty marsh keep you here.  It would take a lot for any of us to ever leave this area.’

How long have you been with A Floral Affair?
‘My husband and I purchased the assets to A Floral Affair in August of this year.’ 

What’s your favorite aspect about living and working in Charleston?
‘Charleston is a dynamic city.  You have the ocean to swim and boat in, the forests to hike and bike and a small city full of friends.  Who could ask for more?  Our weather, location, city and people are all awesome!’

Can you tell me about your family, children? Do any of them work with you at A Floral Affair? 
‘My parents live near our flower shop and are always willing to lend a hand.  They help with wedding florals and sometimes work at the shop.  My husband has a full time job, but has been known to help with a delivery or two on Saturdays.  My 5 year old son is tweaking his marketing skills and my soon to be 1 year old daughter keeps us all on our toes.’

Can you tell me about your relationship with Carnival Cruise Lines and what your business provides for them?
‘A Floral Affair provides the bulk flowers for the ships when they are in port and any floral arrangements the guests may have ordered before their debarkation.  Our staff acts as liaisons to the bride, groom and all of their guests on their wedding day.  After getting everyone to their room, we help set up the ceremony and reception sites.   It is so rewarding to get to share in the bride and groom's special day!’

Have you been on a Carnival cruise out of Charleston?
‘I always am forced to jump ship by 3:30 every cruise day.  I have never taken a Carnival Cruise.  If I did, I would want the staff from The Fantasy to be with me.  They are so helpful and ready to make sure you have a wonderful time.  I just get a glimpse of everyone's vacation and escape for a few hours while on board.’

How has your experience been with the crew you work with aboard the ship?
‘I have never met a better group of people than the staff on the Carnival ships.’ 

Can you describe your business and what it offers?
‘A Floral Affair is just as it sounds; we are a multi-tasking flower shop that delivers. We assist in planning and arranging floral arrangements for weddings, as well as for special events.  We can also accommodate other parties such as; birthdays, babies, anniversaries, funerals and 'just because'.   We also consult with clients for holiday designs for their homes and provide weekly flowers for them throughout the year. We are located at 280- D Seven Farms Drive on Daniel Island. ’

Click here to view A Floral Affair’s website.

Name and position at the Port of Charleston
Gary Santos, Port Manager for Charleston, SC at Inchcape Shipping Services

Past Council Member at Town of Mount Pleasant, SC

How long have you lived in Charleston?
‘Born and raised for the past 52 years.’

What is your favorite aspect of Charleston?
‘There are so many great things about Charleston.  I love how close we are to the beach and saltwater marshes, access to excellent schools and recreation, low crime, friendly people, great businesses, but I could go on and on…in the end it is just a wonderful place to have been raised and has been a great place to have raised my family.’ 

What is your role with the Port of Charleston day to day?
‘I am the liaison between the vessels, Government Agencies, various vendors and the Port whether it is a cruise or cargo ship.  You could say that we are the grease that makes the wheels turn at the Port.  I make sure the vessels are cleared properly, work with ship employees to make sure they have what they need and I also communicate with the Pilots, Line Handlers and Tug Boats to make sure arrival and departure happens on time.’

How do you work with the cruise ships day to day?
‘I work very closely with the Captain and Guest Service Manager aboard the ship to make sure everyone on board has a safe and enjoyable cruising experience.  For each cruise ship that I represent coming and going from Charleston I am at the Port to make sure any issues are solved quickly for any passenger, Government Official, Port Official or Ship staff so the arrival and departure happens on schedule.’

Do you feel that the cruise business is beneficial to the city of Charleston?
‘Yes, by working closely with the cruise ships, as well as the city of Charleston and Town of Mt. Pleasant, I encourage the community to become involved aboard the actual cruise ship. 

Cruise ships generate a lot of revenue for the city and they want to be friends of the city.  There is minimal impact on the city’s resources while a maximum impact on the businesses from cruisers and crew visiting area plantations, eating at local restaurants and shopping throughout Charleston.’ 

What does the crew on the ships think of Charleston - since you work so closely with them?
‘The crew LOVES Charleston for three main reasons:

  1. They love the team at the terminal!  They think Charleston is the best Port, because everyone works so close together to ensure everyone has a positive experience.
  2. Charleston is a walkable city – they can step off the cruise ship and immediately start shopping, go on a tour, dine at an award winning restaurant or just take a nice leisurely walk.
  3. They also love the historic nature of Charleston; the majority of the passengers say that they will come back and bring their friends and family.’

What is your goal each day when you go to work?
‘I consider myself an ambassador to the cities of Charleston and Mt. Pleasant. I am so proud to be a product of these communities.  Each day I want to make sure when each person comes off the vessel they say nice things about the cruise and their visit to Charleston.’

What do you love about your job?
‘I love meeting different people from all over the world.  I can take a trip around the world without leaving Charleston by just visiting with people aboard cruise vessels.  There are at least 60 nationalities on some ships and I love speaking with people to learn about their culture and I also love teaching them about our culture.

When my kids were growing up I use to take them on ships so they could learn about other cultures – they loved it as much as I did.’

Name: Bill Moody

Age: 67

Hometown: Born in Louisville, KY and raised in Myrtle Beach, SC.

How long have you lived in Charleston?
‘I came to Charleston in 1961 to attend the Citadel.’

What do you do for a living in Charleston?
‘I am a retired CPA. I worked with Gamble, Givens and Moody, a local CPA firm.’

What is your favorite aspect about living in Charleston?
‘Charleston is the place where my children and their families have decided to live which makes it a great place to live, work and play.’

How often do you cruise?
‘I have been on many; I guess you can call us regulars. My wife and I love cruising for vacation and have been on a number of Carnival cruises.’

Who were you cruising with on this occasion:

‘It was a group of locals from the Charleston Metro Chamber of Commerce. We had more than 100 people in our group and we all had a great time.’

Was it convenient for you to leave from Charleston?
‘It was so nice. We were dropped off at the terminal and there were no problems at all. The whole process was very efficient as we were loading on the ship. There were no lines, they took our bags to our rooms and we were on the ship in less than 30 minutes.’

Do you have a memorable story from your Cruise?
‘This was a very relaxing cruise. In the past, we have done all the excursions that are offered, but this time we simply enjoyed the company of good people. We ate together each night, lounged by the pool and on the beaches and took in the beauty of the islands.’

Cruises for Less, Caroline Hassell

What is your name and position at Cruises for Less?
Caroline Hassell, Owner

How long have you lived in Charleston?
‘Born and raised in Charleston for the past 52 years!’

What is your favorite aspect of Charleston?
‘The people - of course!  I pride myself on giving personal, face to face service and just love working with the people in Charleston.’

How do you feel about Charleston Cruises?
‘I am all for it! It’s been nothing but a good thing for all.’

Is your business seeing positive affects from the cruise industry?
‘Most definitely. I have seen increased bookings as cruising has expanded my business tremendously. But, I’m not the only one. The cruise industry brings very positive opportunities for all types of businesses in Charleston. I attend weekly meetings for the Merchant Association of Businesses to help them with marketing to cruisers and I have seen how the cruise industry is expanding their businesses.  It is a win-win opportunity for everyone in Charleston.’

What's your reaction to those who have issues with cruises in Charleston?
‘All the local business owners I know are definitely in favor of the cruises. Those against must not see the positive economic impact that Charleston is experiencing from this. In my opinion, we need to deepen our harbor and continue to take advantage of being a port of call.’

Do your clients normally stay in Charleston prior to departure for a few days?
‘A little bit of both. Some just come to catch the boat; however I do help many clients who want to stay in Charleston a few days before and after their cruise.  One thing I have noticed is that those who come to Charleston once always come back.’

Tell us about Cruises for Less.
‘I opened Cruises for Less 11 years ago, in 1999. We dedicate ourselves and our time to planning a cruise experience that is fun, enjoyable and memorable. Personal service and knowledge of our product are what sets us apart. We are located at 1340 Ben Sawyer Blvd. Suite H, Mt. Pleasant, SC 29464.’

Click here for more information about Cruises for Less.

Sheraton Charleston Airport Hotel

Name and position at the Sheraton in North Charleston
Jill Lovins, Corporate Sales Manager

How long have you lived in Charleston?
‘I’ve lived in Charleston for eight years.’

What is your favorite aspect of Charleston?
‘The weather and people; I moved from New Jersey and can’t get over how friendly everyone is down here!’

Is your business seeing positive affects from the cruise industry?
‘Yes, very much so. Each time a cruise leaves from Charleston we see at least 15-25 guest rooms booked by cruisers and about 5-15 rooms booked from cruise employees.’

Do you have any special packages designed for cruisers staying at the Sheraton?
‘We have a package called “Cruise in Style with Sheraton. It offers great rates starting at $125, complimentary full American breakfast in the restaurant, complimentary transportation to and from the cruise terminal and to the airport, free parking and late check-out times. We try to make everything very convenient for cruisers before and after their cruise.’

If cruising out of Charleston was not an option, do you think it would have a negative impact on your business?
‘Definitely. As Corporate Sales Manager, I see how the cruise industry is growing our business in a positive way.’

Do you have a memorable cruise story?
‘We’ve had many of the cruise employees stay with us at the Sheraton. They are such a happy and friendly group and we always do all we can to make them comfortable at our hotel. I have really enjoyed being able to meet them and have them stay with us.’

Group Cruiser, Cynthia Rogers

Name: Cynthia Rogers

Age: 54

Hometown: Moncks Corner, South Carolina

How many cruises have you been on?
‘This is my fifteenth cruise and my second leaving from Charleston.’

How many people were you cruising with during this cruise?
’There were 34 of us in all. Eight from Virginia, one from Georgia, two from Utah, two from Greenville, S.C., and the rest were from the Charleston area. It was the best cruise I have taken with Group and Travel Leaders.’

How did you get this large group together?
‘I am part of a scrapbooking group called Creative Memories; I decided to plan this getaway as a “scrapbooking cruise.” I booked a block of 16 rooms on the ship and used Facebook and word of mouth to get the group of 36 together.  I’ve always wanted to get a group this large to go and am so glad I reached my goal this year!’

Did visitors from out of town visit any local attractions in Charleston?
‘Yes. The girls that came from Utah arrived a few days prior to the cruise departure and explored the city on their own. They visited the Tea Plantation on Wadmalaw Island, the Angel Oak tree on Johns Island and shopped at the market.’

Where did they stay while in Charleston?
‘They stayed at the Candlewood Suites in North Charleston.’

Where did you cruise to from Charleston?
‘We cruised to the Bahamas, Freeport and Nassau.’

Was it convenient for you to leave from Charleston?
‘Yes. We had a limo drop us off at the Port. Everything was very organized and easy. We were so impressed!’

Do you have a memorable story from your Cruise?
‘There were so many wonderful memories, but there is one that stands out. My favorite dessert is Crème Brule. They served it the first night after dinner.  I stepped away from the table when they took the orders so my husband ordered me something different.  I was so disappointed that he did not order the Crème Brule. I mentioned my distress to the waiter and on the very last night of the cruise, the waiter brought a special Crème Brule out for everyone in our group – including me!  It made my night and ended our cruise in a great way!’

Click here more information about Cynthia’s Creative Memories or MyTravelStar by Cynthia.

Tabbuli Grill

What is your name and position at Tabbuli Grill?
Susan Seeger, General Manager

How long have you lived in Charleston?
‘I’ve lived in Charleston for 14 years.’

What is your favorite aspect of Charleston?
‘I love that it is a metropolitan city yet also by the coast where you are close to the water and the beaches.’

How do you feel about Charleston Cruises?
‘It is a huge plus for the businesses in Charleston. We just have to continue to try to capitalize on these new visitors.’

Is your business seeing positive affects from the cruise industry?
‘Yes, we definitely are. Our restaurant is positioned very close to the port so we always see a spike in customers when the cruise ships are in town. We are constantly coming up with new ways to attract the cruisers to our restaurant through specials and discounts designed specifically for cruisers.’

Do you have a memorable cruise story that you would like to share?
‘Yes. It has been such a pleasure to meet all the cruisers and cruise ship employees. Many of the cruise ship employees have become regulars at Tabbuli Grill and visit each time they come to Charleston. I love to hear their stories and talk with them about where they are from and where they are going.’

Where is Tabbuli Grill located and what do you offer?
‘Tabbuli Grill is located at 6 North Market Street in downtown Charleston. We offer an eclectic blend of everyday favorites with the unique menu items of the Mediterranean. We have fresh locally grown coffee and sweet tea, along with a great selection of wines to couple with our hummus, tabbuli, kabobs, and falafel.’

Click here for more information about Tabbuli Grill.

Cassandra Fagan, First Time Cruiser

Age: 48

Hometown: Stow, Ohio

How was your first cruise?
‘We absolutely loved it! We have wanted to plan a getaway for our family for a long time now. We decided that my husband and I would go on a cruise first. We had such a great experience cruising from Charleston that we are now planning a cruise for the whole family. Our next cruise is going to be a longer one!’

What was the occasion to take the cruise?
‘It was my husband and my 25th wedding anniversary.’

Who were you cruising with?
‘I was cruising with my husband, Sean. It was the perfect way to celebrate our anniversary.’

Where did you cruise to from Charleston?
‘We cruised to the Bahamas, Freeport and Nassau.’

Do you think you will return to Charleston for a longer vacation after staying here briefly to catch the cruise ship?
‘Absolutely! From just the short period of time that we were in Charleston, we were so impressed by Charleston’s beauty. We will definitely come back for a visit.’

Was it convenient for you to leave from Charleston? Did you experience any traffic congestion?
‘Everything went very smoothly. The policemen directing traffic made arriving and boarding very efficient and eliminated any confusion.’

Do you have a memorable story from your Cruise?
It was a great time all around, they took great care of the passengers and the ship. I was in awe of the vast beauty that surrounded us when we were at sea. My advice to those who are considering their first cruise is, DO IT! '

The Mills House Hotel

What is your name and position at The Mills House Hotel?
Tripp Hayes, Director of Sales

How long have you lived in Charleston?
Lifelong Charleston resident - ‘I can’t imagine living anywhere else.’

What’s your favorite aspect of Charleston?
‘I love the friendliness of the people that live here.  You can’t find that anywhere else.’

What is your favorite aspect of The Mills House Hotel?
‘I love talking about the history of The Mills House Hotel and how it reflects the history of Charleston.  If I had more time I would love to explain the history to each guest that stays with us – it is fascinating to me.’

How do you feel about Charleston cruises?
‘Good, we know each other around this city and we all watch out for the nature of the city – we all know we do not want to be Key West, but with the boundaries set I am alright with cruising from Charleston.’ 

How do you feel about the people/businesses that are against cruises in Charleston?
‘I honestly do not understand why there is such a great concern.  The Norwegian Cruise lines were here long before other cruises started debarkation in Charleston.’

Are you happy with the business that you have received from cruisers?
‘Yes, I am very happy to see that about 6 rooms are being booked from each cruise.  I am very excited about seeing the numbers grow.’

Do you have a memorable cruise story that you would like to share?
‘Yes, we had a group that booked their wedding reception with us.  After the reception the wedding party paid for everyone to leave on a cruise together.  They had stayed a few nights with us taking up 55 rooms.’ 

Is your business seeing positive effects from the cruise industry?
‘It is hard to quantify the number of cruisers staying with us, but from a recent survey we conducted we are seeing a steady number of bookings from cruise guests.  We have 214 rooms and cruisers are booking 6 rooms per cruise based on the 6 week survey we conducted internally.’

Click here to read about the history of The Mills House Hotel.

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