|Its all about ships
Southampton is Britain's primary cruise port.
For most people, Southampton is not the destination.
Rather, it is a place that travelers come to in order to meet
a ship or because they have just finished their cruise. This
often involves arriving a day before the cruise and staying
in Southampton overnight so as to be able to board early
the next day or staying overnight after disembarkation
before traveling onward.
This does not mean that Southampton is unprepared for
the cruise traveler. There are a number of hotels to stay at
before or after a cruise, restaurants bars and places to
shop. In addition, there are places of historic interest in or
Southampton has a population of approximately 234,600
people. Not surprisingly for a city with two universities,
the largest segment of the population is young people.
The City lies at the confluence of the River Test and the
River Itchen, which come together to form Southampton
Water. This body of water flows into the Solent, which
separates mainland Britain from the Isle of Wight. Thus, a
ship coming to Southampton would leave the English
Channel near Portsmouth, sail up the Solent and turn right
at Southampton Water. It would then sail up to
Southampton past Calshot and the big oil refinery at
Fawley to the docks in Southampton.
As a result of the configuration of these bodies of water,
Southampton has two high tide periods each day. This
makes for a deep water estuary and that is very attractive to
deep draft ocean-going ships. Consequently, Southampton
is a busy seaport town. It is the UK’s second largest
container ship port in the UK. In addition, roll-on/roll-off
ships move some 660,000 vehicles through the port each
year. There are also facilities for other types of cargo.
Because of its importance as a seaport, Southampton
was bombed heavily during World War II. As a result,
many of the historic buildings were destroyed and today
many buildings are from the post-war period. Also,
Southampton has become a shopping mecca for the region
and there are large modern shopping malls, particularly in
the Western Docks area.
Still, Southampton avoids being visually unappealing by
devoting substantial areas to large parks that are well-
kept. In addition, there are a number of public areas where
people can view the water and activity in the harbour.
Southampton has many ship enthusiasts and quite a few
regularly assemble to watch the cruise ships sail in the
One should keep in mind that tourism, while important,
is not the primary focus of Southampton . People go about
their daily lives here working, going to school, shopping
etc. Urban living has its issues. However, as seen below,
Southampton offers quite a few advantages as well.
Left: Southampton's Mayflower Memorial.
Below: Southwestern House was built as a
hotel by the Southwestern Railroad for
passengers arriving or leaving on the ocean
liners. Railroad tracks and facilities still
remain behind the building.
marinia in the
Left: A floral
display in one of
the parks in the
Above: A portion of the city walls.
Below: St. Michael's Church dates from the 11th Century.
Far Left: A residential area.
Near left: Southampton has many
modern including the West Quay
Above left: The Bargate is
considered by many to be the
spiritual center of the town.
Above right: Southampton is
home to Southampton Solent
University and the University of
Southampton is one of Britain's most important ports. Above:
P&O Cruises Oceana arrives in the port. Below: Large container
ships and other types of cargo vessels are also a common sight in
The Titanic sailed from Southampton
on her ill-fated maiden voyage. Four
out of five crew members lived in
Southampton. Consequently, there are
several Titanic memorials in
Above: Cunard's Queen Mary 2 at the Queen Elizabeth II Terminal
Below: P&O Cruises' Oceana at the Ocean Terminal.
Above left: Several vintage ships are in the process of being restored in Southampton harbour. This one is the tender Calshot.
Above middle and right: The ruins of Holyroot Church recall the devastating bombing of Southampton that took place in World War
Southampton Central Station
Above: Royal Caribbean International's Independence of the Seas at the City
PLACES TO STAY At one time not so long ago, travelers
had only a few viable choices for places to stay in
Southampton. Today, however, there are many modern
hotels as well as historic inns and bed and breakfast
options. A few but definitely not all are pictured here.
Above left: The Dolphin Hotel where Jane Austen
reportedly danced on her 18th birthday, being refurbished
in 2010. Above middle: Another historic hotel is the Star
Hotel. Above right: Jury's Inn is one of the largest hotels
in town. Right: The Southampton Park Hotel is across
from West Park. Below right: The DeVere Grand
Harbour Hotel. Below middle: Near Mayflower Park and
close to the back gate of the City Terminal is the Holiday
Inn. Below left: The Novotel is near the front gate of the
City Terminal. Lower middle left: Hotel Ibsis is in the
same complex as the Novotel. Upper middle left: So is
the Etap Hotel.
Cruise port - photo tour - Southampton, England UK - page 1
HISTORY There is evidence that people first started
living in the Southampton area in the Stone Age.
However, the first significant settlement was the
Roman town of Clausentum, which was established in
70 AD and abandoned around 410 AD.
After the Romans left, the Saxons started the town
of Hamwic on the other side of the River Itchen.
However, because that river began to clog with silt and
because it was difficult to defend the settlement from
Viking raids, the Saxons moved to a site on the River
Tests. Over the years, this settlement became
Southampton is also believed to be where King
Chanute defeated the Anglo-Saxon King Ethelred the
Unready in 1014.
Following the Norman Conquest in 1066,
Southampton served as a port of transit for travelers
going from Normandy to what was then the English
capital in nearby Winchester.
The town was first chartered in the 12th Century
and by the 13th Century it had become an important
port for the importation of French wine and the export
of English cloth and wool.
During this period, the town was attacked by French,
Genoese and Monegasque ships and so King Edward
the III ordered that the town be enclosed by fortress
walls. These were completed in the 15th Century and
approximately half of the city walls survive.
By the time of King Henry VIII, Southampton had
become an important ship building area. It was to
remain so until the late 20th Century.
In 1620, the Pilgrims began their voyage to the New
World from Southampton. They began their voyage
with two ships but problems with the Speedwell
required them to turn back and leave that ship in
Plymouth. The remaining ship, the Mayflower, and the
voyage she made for religious freedom and democracy
is remembered in Southampton in monuments and in the
names of several public places.
The city received its charter in 1640 from King
Charles I and that charter remained in effect until 1835.
Novelist Jane Austen lived in Southampton for
about three years and there are plaques posted around
central Southampton indicating where various events in
her life took place.
With the arrival of the railroad in the early 19th
Century, Southampton became a major passenger ship
port. During World War I and World War II, many
soldiers went through Southampton on their way to
France and other battlefields. Similar scenes occurred
in 1982 when British forces set out from Southampton
for the Falklands from Southampton on Cunard’s QE2
and P&O’s Canberra.
While associated with the surrounding county of
Hampshire for most of its life, Southampton is now a
separate political entity.
THE CRUISE PORT Southampton
has been an important passenger ship
port since the Southwestern Railroad
linked it to London in the 19th
Century. By the turn of the century, it
had become the eastern terminus for
most transatlantic crossings. All of the
great ocean liners called in
Southampton. Indeed, the Titanic
began its one and only voyage from
The waterfront is divided into areas
along the River Test. The Eastern
Docks are the original docks while the
Western Docks are built on land that
was reclaimed from the sea in the first
half of the 20th Century.
Today, there are four cruise terminals.
In the Eastern Docks, there is The
Queen Elizabeth II Terminal (Berths
38 and 39) which was home to the
Queen Elizabeth 2 (QE2) for most of
her career, and which is now used by a
number of lines. Nearby is the new
Ocean Terminal (Berth 46), which is
often used by Cunard and P&O ships
The City Cruise Terminal (Berth
101) is in the Western Docks. Royal
Caribbean spent some 97 million
pounds over a seven year period to
expand the capacity of this terminal.
As a result, the ships of Royal
Caribbean and Celebrity Cruises, sail
primarily from this terminal.
Ironically, this terminal is directly
across from the new headquarters
building of Royal’s primary competitor
Carnival UK. As a result, executives
at Carnival can see (and hear) the RCI
and Celebrity ships while passengers
on those ships can see the signs for the
various Carnival brands atop the
At the far end of the Western Docks
is the Mayflower Terminal (Berth
108). Somewhat confusingly, it is not
the terminal closest to Southampton’s
Mayflower Park (that is the City
Terminal). The Mayflower Terminal
is often used by Princess and P&O
Access to the various terminals is
through manned-security gates. While
it is possible to walk to or from the
terminals carrying or rolling ones bags,
it is, generally-speaking, a
considerable distance just from the
gates to the terminals and these areas
are quite busy with cars going to the
terminals and with industrial traffic
going to the freighter piers that are
interspersed between the passenger
ship terminals. Consequently, most
people arrive and leave the terminal
via coaches, private cars or one of
Southampton’s numerous taxis.
OVERVIEW, HISTORY, CRUISE PORT, PLACES TO STAY,
AND GETTING AROUND...........................................................................Page One
THINGS TO DO (ATTRACTIONS, SHOPPING, FOOD AND
IN THE VICINITY (NEARBY PLACES OF INTEREST)...........................Page Three
* This photo tour and the accompanying commentary should only be viewed as a general guide that is based upon one writer's research
and experiences. Accordingly, readers should do their own research prior to their journey. Beyondships is not affiliated with any of the
entities depicted or mentioned herein and assumes no responsibility for their actions and for the products and/or services they provide.
Nor is inclusion in this photo tour a recommendation of the entity shown, its products, services or facilities.
Right: The Carnival
UK headquarters is
directly across from the
Left: Princess Cruises'
Grand Princess at the
GETTING THERE AND GETTING AROUND Southampton is located 62
miles (100 km) from London. There is frequent train service from London to
Southampton Central Station, which is located within the City closest to the
City Cruise Terminal. Trains take a minimum of an hour, depending upon
the time of day, to traverse the distance. There is also regular train service
between Southampton several other British cities including Portsmouth.
Outside of Southampton in the town of Eastleigh is Southampton Airport,
which is a regional airport with flights to UK and European destinations.
Southampton is about 65 miles from London Heathrow Airport. There is a
direct bus service but no direct train service. Gatwick Airport is 95 miles
away but there is a direct train service.
The M27 motorway links Southampton to other towns along the south
coast. Going to or from London involves taking the M3 Motorway.
Once in Southampton, there are a variety of alternatives for getting
around. One can drive but in recent years, there has been considerable
congestion around Southampton, particularly on days when there are several
cruise ships in port, a professional football match is being played or there is
a sale at one of the city’s big stores.
The central area is pedestrian-friendly with good sidewalks and
pedestrian-only areas. However, Southampton is a busy city and there is a
good deal of traffic. Of course, drivers follow the British system of driving
(i.e., the steering wheel is on the right side of the car and they drive on the
left side of the road)) rather than the American/European way and so
pedestrians from outside the UK should be careful crossing streets.
There are numerous taxis operating in Southampton. In addition, there is
a free bus service CitiLink that runs through the center of town from the
Town Quay to the Southampton Central railroad station.
Also at the Town Quay are terminals for the Hythe Ferry, which carries
people across Southampton Water to the village of Hythe, and the Red Jet
Ferry, which is a high-speed service between Southampton and Cowes on
the Isle of Wight. Nearby is the Red Funnel Ferry, which takes people and
vehicles to the Isle of Wight.
Above: A Red Funnel Ferry to the Isle of Wight
Below: The Hythe Ferry.
Left: A Red Jet ferry going down
Right: The City Link bus is free and runs
through central Southampton from the
Town Quay to the railroad station.