Carnival Cruise Line will move the 3,002-passenger Carnival Sunshine to Charleston, S.C., in 2019, the first time a ship of that size will be stationed in the city for year-round cruising.

The Sunshine will replace the 2,056-passenger Carnival Ecstasy on four- and five-day itineraries beginning May 18, 2019.

Although it hasn't been based there, the Sunshine made 11 calls in Charleston in 2016 and 2017 on seasonal migration cruises between Florida and New York, said Terry Thornton, Carnival's senior vice president of itinerary planning.

The Sunshine's Charleston calls helped establish that provisioning, parking and other logistics for the larger ship could be handled by the port, and that it would not overwhelm traffic flows, Thornton said.

Charleston's terminal is in a tight location in the downtown area. Port authorities since 2012 have been trying to build a new terminal with a better approach but environmental and historic preservation activists have opposed it.

In October, a South Carolina state court of appeal sided with the port in saying the improvement could proceed. The project still needs approval from the U.S. Corps of Engineers, however, and that is pending.

Thornton said that even without the new terminal, Carnival and the port can tweak things to make logistics more efficient.

The Sunshine, in addition to having more cabins than the Ecstasy (including 500 balcony cabins compared to 99), has a full FunShip 2.0 package of restaurants, bars and play areas, including a three-deck, adults-only Serenity area.

When the Sunshine moves to Charleston, the Ecstasy will go to Jacksonville for four- and five-day cruises, bumping the Carnival Elation to Port Canaveral, where it will also do four- and five-day cruises, joining the Carnival Liberty, which does three- and four-day cruises. Carnival hasn't offered four- and five-day itineraries from Port Canaveral for a while, Thornton said.

He said demand for cruises from Charleston is strong while supply is limited to 104 calls a year under a voluntary port-imposed cap.

"We find that home port markets that have their own very strong tourism appeal help us in a big way," Thornton said. "Charleston obviously has that. It's a great destination by itself."

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