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London to Southampton


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This was my first London experience and sailing from Southampton

we flew in on Wednesday so we could have a few days in London prior to heading to Southampton.

Flight: virgin from JFK to Heathrow 8am flight-landing essentially 8pm. Immigration? Look at the camera-no line….Customs? No one present to ask a question.  Luggage was already in the terminal on the belt.  I’ve never had an easier time!

hotel-we stayed at comfort inn Victoria . It was clean, the room had a full and a twin.  No way I can sleep in a full with hubby, we are tall and not thin.  The room itself was nice , the beds too firm, pillows very soft! And the room was hot despite the ac unit being on.   Was the ac fixable? Could be, but we didn’t bother, we opened the window and put a fan on.  We were a “good walk” from Buckingham palace and Westminster Abby -(opposite directions) we took the tube from Westminster Abby to Kensington palace to check out the park and Sunken garden.  The tube was relatively clean and felt safe.  No crazed looking people like NYC.  Our hotel was across the corner from a pub. Oddly the pub closed at 11-seriously, even on a Friday!

we were walking distance to the train station and the Apollo theater.  We purchased tickets to Wicked.  There are NO last minute deals for tickets (unlike NYC TKTS Booth). Tickets were substantially less price wise than NYC Broadway.  We are at a small Italian restaurant and really enjoyed the food,(lasagna annd chicken”parm”)  and the pricing was good . Ill Posto Ristorante /pizzeria.  The man at an adjacent table had pizza and he couldn’t get over how good it was.  I would go back. 

departure to Southampton.  We were warned months ago by UK residents in our Facebook group sailing that there was potential for train strikes.  We chose to book a bus, as recommended by the UK residents so we wouldn’t have the worry over a strike.    We purchased tickets from National Express website a few months ago and upgraded to “reserve your seat” and paid for an extra piece of luggage. (Ticket price includes a large luggage and a backpack size carry on) the cost was 22 pounds with reserved seats and extra luggage-TOTAL!. I looked at ticket pricing the night before the bus trip and it was at 16 pounds for one ticket without reserved seats or extra luggage so book early!  We checked out the bus station prior to our departure day.  Very easy to find the National Express bus area. The bus station has food-nothing glorified.  Don’t look for an egg sandwich -it’s not happening.  
‘Bus:  the bus begins boarding 15 minutes prior to departure.  Gates (door outside) closes 2 minutes prior to departure snd does not reopen-even if you pound and beg (witnessed this). There are chairs at each gate-not enough to hold all the passengers.  The public restrooms-well they are public, not the cleanest. 
passengers line up for the bus early….because they don’t pay to reserve seats….who wants to sit next to the toilet?
the driver checks your ticket and counts your bags and loads them. 
reserved  seats have a seatbelt across them and a reserved sign.  No mistakes if you took those seats!
Overhead bin space is very narrow-maybe the height of a bottle of water. Leg space is minimal.  So if you go get on the bus with an oversized bag -if the driver overlooks it-expect to hold it or place under your legs. I do not know if you have the option to purchase extra luggage space when you are boarding.  
our bus had issues where it became overbearingly hot….not warm…HOT. I run hot but others started yelling about the heat.  The controls are above the front area near the driver and a passenger made the adjustment per the driver.  Later it became cold-I LOVE the cold….but it was ridiculous.  Same passenger fixed it-to which we had adjustments made twice more hot then cold.  I told hubby he now knows what menopause is like!
when we arrived at the bus station the passengers couldn’t disembark quick enough.  I thought maybe they got a prize for getting off the bus first, or there were limited free drinks on the sidewalk.  I was row 5 and was one of the last people off the bus.  I’m from NY and even subway riders aren’t so rude. 

Southampton-we chose to stay at Ibis.  It’s clean and breakfast is included.  We walked from Southampton bus station to the hotel-about 10 minutes.  Check in was speedy.  The room is quaint.  2 twins again (or it would have been a full)
‘we went to The Standing Order aka Witherspoons to meet fellow cruisers and have some libations and food.  It was inexpensive!  Don’t forget you don’t have waiters come around, you order via the app or at the bar. 
there is a Boots pharmacy a very short walk from the Ibis hotel. The cruise port appears to be a 10 minute walk. If you didn’t want to go to the standing order (highly recommend) the Inis has food and pricier drinks and they only accept card.  . There’s a McDonald’s down the block and a TGI Fridays as well.



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Departure update.

we decided to Uber to port-despite the fairly short,about 6-9 minute, walk.  Both of us have bad backs and lugging the luggage, yet again, was not desirable.  Uber prices went up as the morning moved into the “busy time”.  Still worth the 6 pounds….when dropped off at the port you leave your luggage with a bunch of other luggage.  The porters load it onto the trolley and then drive it to the ship.  There was no porter to tip…as they were not present to take the bags.

embarkation was pretty quick. Hubby had no phone service so he could not access the app for the set sail pass.  So print them or have screen shots on your phone.  I had cell service so I pulled up the set sail passes.

Boots pharmacy opens at 11 on a Sunday.  I did not note the other days. 

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I found this helpful as well!  Will be cruising out of Southampton next May with my husband, and not sure if I will hire private transportation or not to the cruise port but good to know the bus option as well.  I'm curious to know if you took the bus to the airport after the cruise as well? Thanks!

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9 hours ago, AOlivr said:

I found this helpful as well!  Will be cruising out of Southampton next May with my husband, and not sure if I will hire private transportation or not to the cruise port but good to know the bus option as well.  I'm curious to know if you took the bus to the airport after the cruise as well? Thanks!

This was a transatlantic, so once we boarded we headed to NJ…still onboard.

I imagine catching the national   Express bus back to London would be as simple. 
also note Gatwick airport is closer to Southampton than Heathrow airport is,…we didn’t book that airport due to wanting  to play tourist in London 

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  • 3 weeks later...

Thanks for the recap of getting to Southampton.  We booked flights to Heathrow for 2024 and are planning on taking the bus to Southampton as well. 

We don’t have the time for more than two nights prior to our cruise so we’re going to head straight to Southampton from Heathrow.  We feel that one day in London wouldn’t be enough, and we hope to have more time for London when we go back in 2025. 

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