Southampton is one of the largest commercial ports in Europe and is closely associated with the Cunard line, their passenger ships being the only ones to have Southampton on their sterns as their home port. Some of the largest cruise liners in the world – operated by Cunard, P&O and Royal Caribbean – come into Southampton.
Apart from shipping, Southampton is known for having the longest stretch of medieval wall still existing in the UK. Since the Stone Age Southampton has been an important settlement with castles and ports and spa baths although much of its other history has long crumbled into ruins and been redeveloped and there is little of interest to see in Southampton itself today.
How to Get to London
The four terminals are spread out so you will need to get a taxi to and from your ship. The railway station is not far away. The closest airport is Heathrow in the west of London about two and a half hours away by bus to and from Heathrow Central Bus Station (which is close to Terminals 1, 2 & 3 but you will need to take a Heathrow Express or Tube train from there to Terminals 4 & 5). To get to London Waterloo Station there are around four trains an hour from Southampton Central Station taking about an hour and a half. A bus from Southampton to London Victoria is slower but a little cheaper.
One Day in London
London has so much to see it’s good to have a list of priorities before you set out. London Waterloo Station is close to the cultural Southbank area on the banks of the River Thames from where there is a footbridge across to Victoria Embankment from which you’ll see many of London’s iconic buildings including St Paul’s Cathedral. Waterloo Underground Station connects you with many parts of the city by Underground train (Tube).
If you have one day, buy a Day Travel Card which means you can use all train and bus routes. Pick up a tube map at the station. Bus routes can be more of a mystery although the view from the top of a double decker bus is wonderful. The London Eye is a short walk from Waterloo and gives great views over London.
There are open top bus tours you can do and if you like walking you can head from the river, past the Houses of Parliament, Westminster Abbey, across to The Mall and St James’s Palace, to Buckingham Palace and on to Hyde Park. Or reverse this order (start from Green Park tube station) to see the Changing of the Guard at Buckingham Palace, which happens every other day (check the schedule) at 11.30am.
Alternately, walk along Southbank to the Tate Modern Gallery, cross the river via the pedestrian Millennium Bridge to reach St Paul’s Cathedral before heading back along The Strand, towards Somerset House and Trafalgar Square.
The language is English and the currency is the British Pound (or quid in local slang). There is a currency exchange at Harwich Port and ATMs (which take only 4 digit numeric PINs). Some shops in the West End of London accept euros but very few so it’s best to change your money. Given that Southampton is such a major port, it is not easy to walk to the terminals and it is best to approach your ship by taxi.