Name: Port of Southampton
Address: Ocean Gate, Atlantic Way, Southampton SO14 3QN
Phone: 023 8048 8800
Located in the south of England, near Portsmouth, Southampton is one of the UK’s busiest and most important ports and is widely recognized as the capital of the country’s cruise industry.
Southampton frequently serves as a departure port for transatlantic crossings. Cruises from Southampton also head to the Mediterranean and Northern Europe. It is also a major port for London, which is about 80 miles to the north. It wasn’t long ago that the city was port to the golden age of the liners when now legendary ships such as Queen Mary, Queen Elizabeth, Mauretania and more recently, Canberra, were a constant sight on the waterfront skyline. Today, many of the world’s leading cruise lines sail from here.
While there is a small airport in Southampton, you’ll likely land at London Heathrow or Gatwick. Southampton has good access by train from London’s Waterloo station with a journey time of around 75 minutes. If you’re traveling on your own, from London Heathrow Airport, use the Rail-Air coach link to Woking Rail Station, from which a frequent rail service that operates to Southampton Central Station.
From London Gatwick Airport, a rail link operates to Southampton Central Station (direct or via Clapham Junction Station). From London Luton Airport or London Stansted Airport, catch a train or coach into London and make your way to London Waterloo Station, from where train services operate to Southampton Central Station.
With some 40 hotels in the city, Southampton can offer an outstanding range of accommodation from a luxurious 5 star hotel to cozy family-run guesthouses. In downtown Southampton, there’s the Jury’s Inn, a three-star hotel that has 270 spacious bedrooms; and the Holiday Inn Southampton has 130 rooms situated next to Mayflower Park and Southampton Water.
The De Vere Grand Harbour features a stunning glass atrium and is situated on Southampton Waterfront. The Hilton, Mercure Southampton Centre, Boathouse Hotel, Ibis Southampton, and Eaton Court Guesthouse offer quite different accommodation experiences. For something completely different, there’s the Pilgrim Inn, in a quiet, rural location with two thatched buildings; one housing the bar and restaurant, while the other contains luxurious boutique rooms.
If you’re spending a few days in London prior to your cruise or afterwards, that city has a hotel, inn, or B&B for every taste and budget. The city is replete with the usual big name properties like The Fairmont Savoy, Radisson Edwardian, Marriott Park Lane, The Dorchester, Mandarin Oriental, among others.
Whether you want to visit one of the best UK art galleries outside London or attend a blockbusting musical, Southampton is home to some of the region’s best concert halls and venues, boasting three outstanding art galleries and two magnificent theaters.
The city’s Old Town is one of the historical gems of England that over the centuries has played its part in the country’s rich culture and history. It attracted the interest of William the Conqueror, Henry V, William Shakespeare, the Pilgrim Fathers, Isaac Watts and Jane Austen. And you can walk in their footsteps along medieval town walls that rival any to be found in England. The Bargate is one of the country’s finest medieval town gates.
Southampton’s Old Town has more hidden treasures than many other cities can boast.
Oxford Street is the site of Southampton’s cosmopolitan rendezvous, located between the history of the old city walls, and the beautiful residential waterfront location at Ocean Village and where you’ll find restaurants, bars and shops of character.
The Old Town is the site of the church in which Philip of Spain heard Mass before riding to Winchester to marry Queen Mary in 1554. Near here both Mayflower and Speedwell were berthed in 1620 when the Pilgrim Fathers were at Southampton and had no inkling that they would be making an unscheduled stop at Plymouth.
Within a short distance of the Old Town is the waterfront, peaceful now with cruise ships and container vessels that are such a feature of Southampton, but once of vital importance for the D-Day landings. Solent Sky, with its wonderful display of historic aircraft, is nearby.
The Medieval Merchants House is one of the city’s ancient jewels and is tucked away within walking distance from the busy city Centre. John Fortin, a merchant who traded with Bordeaux, started building this house in 1290. A residence and place of business, it stood on one of the busiest streets in medieval Southampton. Now restored to its mid-14th-century appearance by the removal of later additions, it is equipped with replica period furnishings. Nearby is the medieval town wall, built to defend Southampton against seaborne attacks. Netley Abbey, Calshot Castle and Hurst Castle are all within reasonable traveling distance.
Portchester Castle is only 20 minutes away and is a “don’t miss” place to visit. It’s the most impressive and best-preserved of the Roman ‘Saxon Shore’ forts, and was originally built in the late 3rd century. An exhibition in the keep interprets the history of the castle and Portchester village and displays finds excavated on site.
If you’re a walker, the QE2 Mile is the pedestrian route winds through the heart of the city from the Cenotaph down to the waterfront at Town Quay. It links the city’s parks, new cultural quarter, shopping high street, old town and waterfront. The waterfront is the most visited part of the city and has many historical features such as the Cenotaph, Titanic memorial, and the Holy Rood church that was bombed in the war.
The magnificent City Art Gallery has over 3,500 works of art covering six centuries of European culture from the Italian Renaissance to French Impressionism. Its core collection of 20th Century British art is internationally renowned.
And the Old Cemetery, opened in 1846 on the south western part of Southampton Common, and is one of the earliest municipal (local authority) cemeteries in England. It still has all the original buildings. As well as being a place of historic interest, it was one of the main burial sites for British victims of the Titanic.
The Bargate, Southampton’s most historic monument is an 800-year-old monument that stands at the heart of Southampton’s City Centre. After a major refurbishing, it is now the entranceway to a contemporary art gallery.
– By Ray Chatelain