Local business support SC cruise industry, new cruise line visits

CHARLESTON, S.C. (AP) -- Some South Carolina businesses are announcing a new effort to support the state's growing $37 million cruise industry.

Business leaders and officials from the State Ports Authority release details of the effort Thursday. Officials say more than 220 local businesses have been patronized by cruise passengers in recent months.

South Carolina began its first year-round cruising season in 2010 when the first cruise ship to be based in Charleston arrived.

But the industry has had its critics.

Environmentalists worry that there are not enough rules governing the industry. And residents of one Charleston neighborhood don't like plans for a new cruise terminal near their homes.

Also, one of the world's newest ocean liners is calling in South Carolina.

Oceania Cruise's Marina was launched late last year and makes a call in Charleston on Thursday.

The Marina is sailing up the East Coast to New York before continuing across the Atlantic to Barcelona, Spain.

The 66,000-ton vessel can carry 1,250 guests and has six gourmet restaurants.

The cruise industry means about $37 million to the South Carolina economy each year.

Tourism is an $18 billion industry in South Carolina.

(Copyright 2011 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)