Port of Call: Southampton, England
Located on the south coast of England, Southampton has a strong maritime and cultural history, with ties to Henry V, the Mayflower, Jane Austen and the Titanic. Home to a huge array of historic monuments and heritage-listed buildings, with some dating back to the 12th century, as well as a number of theatres, art galleries and markets, this vibrant seaside city is known as the cruise capital of Europe.
Dating back to 1840, when the first cruise ship sailed into Southampton, this port has become one of the most popular in the UK (and Europe) with more than 450 ships passing through every year. A £40 million investment in the 4 terminals and surrounding infrastructure ensures modern and functional facilities are available for passengers.
Southampton is the main maritime gateway for London, which is accessible by car and public transport. The Isle of Wight is close by and is accessible by ferry.
The Port of Southampton is located 130 kilometres south-west of Central London, about 1 hour and 40 minutes by car or 1 hour and 10 minutes by train. Heathrow and Gatwick Airports are around 105 and 130 kilometres away respectively, and both are accessible by public transport.
Best known as the home port of the Queen Mary 2, Southampton’s natural deep water allows unrestricted access for the world’s largest ships. The Ocean and QE2 Terminals are at the Eastern Docks, while the Mayflower and City Cruise Terminals are at the Western Docks. All 4 terminals are about 5 minutes’ drive to the city centre.
- car parking located 5 minutes’ walk from the terminals
- dedicated taxi ranks outside each terminal
- fully licensed bars and cafés in all terminals
- arrivals lounge with complimentary magazines and maps.
Well equipped to accommodate large influxes of travellers, Southampton offers a range of hotels and restaurants.
How to Get Around
Located in the city centre, the Southampton Central Railway Station is 5 minutes’ drive from the port. London-bound Southwest Trains depart frequently with travel times of 70 to 90 minutes. Fares are reduced for departures after 10am – look for the ‘cheap day single’ or ‘day return’ tickets.
National Express coaches run between Southampton Coach Station and Victoria Coach Station in Central London, and between Southampton and Heathrow Airport. Fares are generally reasonable, however travel times can be twice that of trains.
Once in London, the underground train (tube) and bus systems are extensive and easy to navigate. Rechargeable Oyster cards can be used on both trains and buses and are useful if you’re staying in London for several days. Otherwise, regular tickets can be purchased from machines and kiosks.
Black Cabs are clean, safe, metered and regulated, however the fares are quite high. Mini-cabs run by private companies are often much cheaper.
- Currency - the currency in Southampton is the British Pound. Coins come in 1, 2, 5, 10, 20 and 50 pence and £1 and £2 denominations. Notes come in £5, £10, £20 and £50 denominations.
- Time Zone - Southampton uses Greenwich Mean Time (GMT), which is the same as Coordinated Universal Time (UTC). Daylight Saving Time, used in the summer, is 1 hour ahead (UTC+1).
- Weather - average temperatures in Southampton range from 18° Celsius in July and August to 7° Celsius in December and January. May through to July is the driest period with an average rainfall of 31mm.
- SeaCity Museum - the fascinating and moving Southampton's Titanic Story exhibition at SeaCity Museum is worth a visit. The Titanic departed from Southampton on her maiden voyage with hundreds of local residents on board as crew members, so the tribute is especially poignant. The museum hosts scale models, interactive exhibits and artefacts.
- Historic Salisbury - the market town of Salisbury, a 30-minute train ride away, is home to an historic Gothic cathedral that was built from 1220 to 1258, the oldest working clock in Europe (dating back to 1386) and the tallest spire in Britain. Other distinguishing structures include Wilton House, a former convent from the 16th century, and a number of museums.
- Stonehenge - one of Britain's, and indeed the world’s, most famous natural attractions lies less than an hour from Southampton. The huge prehistoric stone circle of Stonehenge, located near Amesbury, is a fascinating and thought-provoking ancient monument unlike anything else in the world.
- Experience London - travel into Central London by train or bus. This bustling metropolis steeped in history is home to some of the world’s most famous structures including Big Ben, Tower Bridge, Trafalgar Square and Piccadilly Circus. If time is short take a double-decker city sightseeing tour bus to catch the highlights.
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