Climb aboard the Carolina Belle to enjoy the beauty of the Charleston Harbor and learn the rich history of the Holy City. During the scenic and relaxing 90 minute tour, you will see over 75 landmarks and points of interest!
Your professional USCG licensed captain will narrate history, sights, and facts about the Charleston Harbor as you pass locations critical to United States history.
While aboard the Carolina Belle, you'll get close-up views of the Holy City's most famous and charming sights, including:
Fort Sumter: One of Charleston's most popular landmarks, where the first shots of the Civil War were fired
Confederate and Unionarmy Forts Moultrie and Johnson
USS Yorktown: the famous World War II “Fighting Lady”
St. Michael’sEpiscopal Church: A surviver of both the Revolutionary and Civil Wars, whose steeple was painted black so as not to be an easy target
Stately homes on the Battery: Symbols of Southern elegance and perseverance
Cooper River Bridges, including the Arthur Ravenel Jr. Bridge: A state of the art span that accommodates the largest ships in the world
Dolphins skimming the surface of the water and pelicans diving for food
This family-friendly, relaxing, and insightful cruise is best way to discover the Holy City and its famous Harbor!
The 80-foot Carolina Belle features graceful, classic lines. During your cruise, choose between the boat’s two decks - a climate controlled Main Salon and an Observation Deck - or spend time enjoying the spectacular harbor views from each.
What Is Not Included?
Food and drinks are not included in the price of your ticket. However, there is a snack bar on the boat where you can purchase assorted food and beverages, so you may want to bring extra cash with you.
Charleston Maritime Center, near Calhoun & Concord (Charleston, SC)
(Exact meeting location details will be provided immediately upon purchase of tickets.)
Advance purchase is highly recommended and tours often sell out in advance. To maximize your chances of getting the day and time you prefer, please book well in advance. Tickets can be purchased with a Visa, Mastercard or American Express.
What type of ticket should I buy if I'm bringing a very young child?
We have reduced price tickets for children ages 4 to 11. Children ages 3 and younger are free with an accompanying Adult ticket.
What exactly do we see on the tour?
You will see the profile from the water of one of the oldest cities in the United States. Specific sites you'll see and hear about include: the stately homes along the Battery, Customs House, South Carolina State Ports Authority, churches including: the white steeple of St. Michael’s Episcopal Church, the three forts – Moultrie, Sumter, and Johnson, Patriot’s Point, the home of the Yorktown, the famous “Fighting Lady” of World War II, Charleston’s landmark Arthur Ravenel Jr. Bridge.
Is the viewing equally good on both levels of the vessel?
Yes, you will have a panoramic view from either level.
What happens if it rains?
The cruises take place rain or shine, regardless of weather conditions. The Carolina Belle has a glassed-in, enclosed observatory and the upper deck is also partially covered, so you'll be able to get great views of the Harbor's famous sights in any weather!
Is the Carolina Belle covered?
Yes, the Carolina Belle has two decks - A glassed-in “Main Salon,” which is climate controlled and an “Observation Deck,” each providing spectacular views of Charleston Harbor. The Observation Deck is open, however, it does have some roof-covered space.
Can I buy food or drinks on board?
There is a snack bar aboard the Carolina Belle that has soda, bottled water, wine, beer, mixed cocktails, chips, hot dogs, burgers, candy bars, cookies, etc. The snack bar accepts cash or charge on board.
Can I bring my own food or drinks on board?
No, we ask you not to bring any food or drinks on board. You will be able to purchase food and drinks at our snack bar.
Does the tour run year-round?
No, the public Harbor Tour runs from mid-February through Thanksgiving, with weekend cruises in December. Please check the calendar for the most up-to-date schedule information!
What should I wear?
Please dress appropriately for the weather conditions. Keep in mind that the temperature on the water is significantly lower than on the land, so you may want to bring a sweater in the cooler months.
Are there any stops along the way?
No, there are no stops. We will be cruising for the entire tour.
Is the Harbor Boat Tour safe?
The Carolina Belle is a safe vessel with a normal operating crew of three or four depending on the number of passengers. She is certified for 300 hundred passengers to cruise the inland waterways, harbors and tributaries by the USCG and meets all the US Coast Guard safety requirements.
Will I get seasick?
The Carolina Belle is a steady 85-foot vessel with classic lines. The Charleston Harbor has a mild atmosphere and it is unlikely that you will feel much movement aboard the boat. If you often feel seasick, you may want to consider some light medication before beginning the trip. We cannot officially advise you to take any medication, however.
Is the trip handicapped and wheelchair accessible?
The Carolina Belle is Wheelchair friendly, we are able to accommodate guests with wheelchairs for the most part. Entrance to the boat is via a 30-foot ramp, which varies in steepness depending on the tide. If you're able to enter using the ramp, you'll be able to participate in the tour.
How do you normally board the vessel? Will we have to use the stairs?
Normally stairs are not required for boarding or disembarking from the Carolina Belle, we use a ramp to load passengers directly on to the upper deck, where the boat's restrooms are located. Stairs are required to get to the lower level which is enclosed and climate controlled. Please make sure you consult with our staff before boarding if having to use the staircase will pose problems for you.
Is there any narration on the tour?
Yes, the Harbor Tour is fully narrated.
Do we see dolphins and other sealife or birdlife?
We often catch a glimpse of dolphins skimming the surface as they feed or a pelican as he nose dives into the water in search of a tasty tidbit.
Is parking available near the departure point?
Yes, a limited amount of free parking is available at the Charleston Maritime Center for Harbor Tour guests. If the lot is full, you may also park at meters or in a City Parking lot nearby, however you must pay for those parking spaces.
Is there a restroom on the boat?
Yes, the boat is equipped with clean restrooms.
Can I stow anything during the cruise?
We do have limited closet space for wheelchairs and strollers on board. If you have a backpack or other item, we ask that you keep it under your seat. We are not responsible for lost or missing items.
Where does the Harbor Tour finish?
The tour finishes in the same place that it departs from, the Charleston Maritime Center, near Calhoun and Concord Streets.
Is smoking allowed on board the Carolina Belle?
Smoking is not allowed on the Carolina Belle per the City of Charleston ordinance against smoking in restaurants, bars, and other public areas.
Are dogs allowed on board?
No, Department of Health regulations prohibit animals on board with the exception of service animals.
Are gift certificates available for the trip?
Yes, gift certificates are available and they make perfect gifts for holidays, birthdays or any other occasion! To purchase a gift certificate please click on the "Gift Certificates: Purchase" link in the box above.
Can I book a private trip?
Yes! We can accommodate a variety of special requests. Please click “Contact HarborTours” to inquire further.
Charleston Harbor Tours is the oldest continuously operating harbor tour company in Charleston, tracing its roots to 1908.
The company specializes in introducing its guests to the beauty and history of Charleston, the Holy City. Your captain and staff will be eager to make your experience aboard the Carolina Belle a pleasant and enjoyable one.
The Carolina Belle is Charleston Harbor Tours’ newest vessel. Featuring graceful, classic lines, the boat is 80 feet long. It can accommodate up to 300 passengers and has a standard operating crew of four.