Charleston is one of the busiest container ship ports in the United States in terms of annual tonnage received and shipped. Thanks to the increase in manufacturing throughout the region, particularly in the auto and aerospace industries, the Port of Charleston is one of the largest employment centers in the state of South Carolina. More than 30 of the world's largest marine freight carriers load and unload cargo at the modern dock facilities in Charleston.
There are three primary terminals located at the Port of Charleston. The Columbus Street Terminal is used mainly for the loading and unloading of roll-on/roll-off cargo, with the main bulk of freight being passenger and industrial vehicles manufactured in the area. Imported vehicles are also unloaded at this facility.
The North Charleston Terminal handles mainly container ship cargo. A complex rail yard is located close by and ships imported containers throughout the southeastern portion of the United States.
The Union Pier Terminal is the home of Charleston's cruise industry. Located in the heart of the city's historical district, the terminal is easily accessed on foot or by taxi. Carnival Cruise Lines is the major tour company operating from the Union Pier Terminal. The cruise line offers tours to the Bahamas and Eastern Caribbean. Shorter cruises to Grand Turk and Half Moon Cay are popular with tourists who prefer multiple stops on their vacation. Vehicle storage is available for those who drive to Charleston prior to departing on cruises from the Union Pier Terminal.