You are booked on a cruise that begins or ends in Southampton, England. This is a busy port city of a million plus inhabitants. It is situated on the south coast of England in the county of Hampshire. Let’s look at this city from that perspective (a cruiser) as chances are Southampton is not your ultimate vacation destination. If you are visiting the city on a guided tour no doubt it would be just one of many stops. So, is it worth coming a day or two early before your cruise to explore? Or staying awhile after you cruise?
Though Southampton has an airport, if you are flying internationally, you will be landing in Heathrow or Gatwick which are relatively close to London. (Southampton is only 80 miles or 90 minutes though by fast train from London.) So it is a debate whether to spend the time in London or in Southampton – let’s say there are more things to see and do in London, especially if you are not sure you will be back this way again. But don’t count Southampton out.
Southampton is a busy port … (Image:Pixabay)
and cruise port (Image:Pixabay)
Flying into England the day before your cruise.
Though London and Southampton are not far apart, you will probably want to stay that pre-day in the cruise port especially if you are a new cruiser or easily-stressed traveller. You can shop in Southampton for last minute items you forgot to bring with you, have a great dinner, and perhaps take in some evening entertainment.
Depending on what time you arrive in the city, there are local sights to visit too. Experience history at the SeaCity Museum with its 1-25 scale interactive model of the Titanic which sailed from this port on its fateful journey in 1912. Tour the Tudor House and Garden for a taste of older history. Or take a guided walk and see the contrast between the modern architecture (eg. Westquay), the Tudor houses, and the even older medieval city walls.
Tudor House (Image:Bigstock)
Old City Walls (Image:Bigstock)
You have two or more days pre-or post-cruise to spend.
If the thought of navigating London is overwhelming, then proceed to Southampton which, besides being a busy university town, is also a great jumping off point for exploring attractions in nearby areas. That is in addition to the very local ones mentioned previously.
Take a day trip to the Isle of Wight, or the New Forest National Park. There are guided tours to Stonehenge. In nearby Winchester, there’s a wildlife zoo or visit an oceanarium in Portsmouth. If you love cars, put Beaulieu on the list – there are nearly three hundred vehicles on display at the National Car Museum! If you are a child at heart or travelling with children, there is even a Peppa Pig World! Going further afield, visit Windsor and enjoy an afternoon tea in the town before visiting the castle and park. The one of many advantages of vacationing in England (and many other European countries) is the distance between places you wish to see. Within reason you can pack a lot of activities into a day especially with the train system.
Isle of Wight (Image:Bigstock)
Beaulieu, the National Car Museum (Image:Bigstock)
Use a Travel Professional to Plan Your Days
If you are going to be any time at all in Southampton and wish to keep your day(s) full of activities, have your travel professional arrange a custom tour so you can make full use of the time available and perhaps purchase any entrance fees required ahead of time too if need be. BritRail Passes are available for 3 days in a month, and up. You can’t purchase them in England. Of course you can “wing it” and not plan your time around Southampton in advance, but planning ahead may save you time and money.
Here is a great reference website for those cruising from the port: Cruise Southampton. Also check out our article on the Attractions of London. Feature image of the Southampton waterfront at dusk courtesy of Bigstock. Real Travel Experts hopes you enjoy visiting England as much as this author does!