Pre-Cruise Guide to Southampton, UK

Advisor - Kelsey Parry
Curated By

Kelsey Parry

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  • England

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Southampton Old City Wall
Curator’s statement

Using Southampton as a jumping-off point for your next cruise adventure is a fabulous experience and a great addition to any itinerary, pre- or post-cruise. As with all cruise adventures, it’s recommended to arrive at the embarkation port at least one day in advance (ideally more when traveling from the U.S. to European destinations), and Southampton has some amazing sights for day trips and within the city itself.

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Where to stay

The Pig - in the wall

The Pig - In the Wall, located in Southampton, UK, is a charming boutique hotel seamlessly blending historic character with modern comfort. With its unique setting within medieval walls, cozy accommodations, and a focus on locally sourced cuisine, the hotel provides a quaint and memorable retreat in the heart of Southampton.

Harbor Hotel Southampton

Southampton's only 5-star hotel. With 100 luxury rooms, an award-winning restaurant, a luxury spa, state-of the art gym & the city's hottest rooftop bar.

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Day 1: Pre-Cruise Arrival

Southampton Cruise Port

Upon arriving in Southampton, drop your luggage off at your lodging and wander out to enjoy the history. If you are arriving on the day of the ship’s departure, there are many options you can pre-reserve to store your luggage for the day via the Stasher website.

Walk along the historic walls of Southampton to get the lay of the land, take in the waterfront, and enjoy watching the docked cruise ships leave port from the Dancing Man Brewery. For those interested in the ill-fated Titanic, Southampton has a self-guided walking tour called the Titanic Trail, that showcases important land-based locations related to the liner, which includes a stop at the Maritime Museum.

If you have forgotten any items needed for the upcoming cruise or are looking to pick up some wine to take along (since most cruise lines allow up to two bottles per cabin), head over to the West Quay Retail Park, which is an indoor shopping mall that has everything from Marks and Spencer to all budget-level dining.

For dinner, consider one of the historic pubs within the old city to truly experience life like a local. The Duke of Wellington pub is a fantastic local option (particularly if staying at The Pig - in the wall), which resides in a building dating back to the 12th century and has all of the ambiance you’d expect with such lineage.

Day 2: Boarding Day

The Pig - In the Wall Larder

Enjoy a beautiful breakfast spread from the larder at The Pig - in the wall. You’ll need the sustenance to get through the cruise terminal embarkation process! Remember to pack any items you might need in the first few hours on the ship (including your two bottles of wine, any medications, etc.) in your carry-on. You won’t see your checked bags again for a few hours once given to the porters at the terminal.

If planning to use a ride-sharing service, make sure to add in plenty of extra time for long pickup waits; boarding day for you is also disembarkation day for others, and if you have a morning embarkation time, drivers can take some time to locate.

If staying at many of the hotels within walking distance of the ports, do consider making the walk yourself (if you pack light or have rolling luggage). The roads leading to and between the terminals all have navigable sidewalks, and this can often be a simpler option than trying to track down a taxi or rideshare.

Need to Know

Where to Stay in Southampton

Southampton is a very picturesque port city with an impressive history, perfect for a day or two of adventuring before (and after) your cruise adventure. I highly recommend staying near the heart of the old city, conveniently located adjacent to many cruise port terminals. I personally recommend The Pig - in the wall, which is a wonderful, quaint, food-centric boutique hotel within walking distance of most of the terminals (even while carting multiple suitcases).

Transportation to and from Southampton from London Airports

While Southampton does have its own regional airport, most visitors arriving from the U.S. will fly directly to a London airport (about ~1.5 hours away by car). Travelers have a few methods for transportation from London airports to Southampton depending on budget, amount of luggage, and one's sense of adventure! The easiest, quickest (and priciest) option is to pre-book a car service to collect your party upon arrival at the airport. These services can accommodate larger or smaller groups and can assist in carrying luggage to the vehicle. Such services can cost upwards of £200 for a party of two travelers one-way. Another direct and fairly easy option would be a taxi or ridesharing service, which can be secured upon arrival. Depending on traffic, this option can land in the realm of £100 per two travelers one-way. Coaches for hire (or booking directly through the cruise line) periodically leave the London airports for Southampton and are efficient, more cost-effective options. Independently booked coaches begin around £90 for two persons one-way, while cruise line booked options tend to be double that (but are a bit more traveler-friendly regarding clearly marked signage and personnel to assist with the process). Cruise excursion coach transfers pre- or post-cruise often have add-on opportunities to see sights like Stonehenge on the way to/from the port. The most cost-effective (and adventurous) option is to take the train from London to Southampton. This option is easiest if a pre-cruise stay in London has been planned, as the train departs from Waterloo station in the city's heart. If planning to arrive at the London airport and depart immediately for Southampton, this will require a trip on the London tube (subway system) from the airport to London Waterloo station, where you will then catch the South Western Railway line to Southampton. This option will fall in the realm of £50 for two persons each way but requires the ability to carry all luggage at multiple sections of the journey. Always confirm in the days before arrival whether there are any planned train outages or strikes, which periodically affect train transit on this line.

For more travel tips, check out Fora Advisor Bijoy Shah's guide, An Extravagant Weekend in London, England.

Advisor - Kelsey Parry

Travel Advisor

Kelsey Parry

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This guide is part of our ongoing series on travel to England