Southampton is special for many reasons.
Firstly, it’s the largest city in Hampshire (and the sixth largest in the UK), making it an impressive and popular place to visit.
It also has a huge amount of history associated with it, particularly that relating to World War II. Southampton was one of the places the ships set sail on D-Day. This is where the iconic Spitfire was built, as well as the RMS Titanic.
On the subject of large ships, Southampton is now the home port for many of the largest in the world, most usually cruise ships.
As might be expected with a place as large and exciting as Southampton, there are many things to do here. The Solent Sky Museum expands on the history of aviation, and is known as ‘the home of the Spitfire’. Here you can see many different types of aircraft and even sit in a fighter jet’s cockpit!
The SeaCity Museum is an interactive and innovative museum allowing hands on contact with some of the most fascinating maritime artefacts around.
Finally, the Southampton Town Walls are not to be missed – and they are, in fact, impossible to miss! The Town Walls were defensive structures built around the city itself, and it is a fascinating way to spend some time, learning about the city, its history, and how it was once defended.
Cruises and ferries from Southampton
|Southampton West Cowes||26 daily||½ hour||See prices|
|Southampton East Cowes||19 daily||1 hour||See prices|
This information is for reference purposes only. Journey times are approximate. Frequency is based on typical schedules. Schedules are subject to availability and weather conditions. Information correct at the time of writing.
Taster Cruise Ship Itineraries
|Cruise line||Typical itinerary||Prices|
|Southampton Ports such as Guernsey; Amsterdam; Zeebrugge; Le Havre; Hamburg; Bilbao||See prices °|
|Southampton Ports such as Rouen; Honfleur; Cobh; Dublin; Belfast||See prices °|
|Southampton Ports such as Cherbourg; Guernsey; Le Havre; Amsterdam; Zeebrugge; Bremerhaven; Rouen; Guernsey; Brest||See prices °|
|Southampton Ports such as Le Havre||See prices|
|Southampton Ports such as Zeebrugge; Le Havre; Cherbourg; Bilbao||See prices °|
|Southampton Ports such as Norway; Amsterdam; Zeebrugge||See prices °|
|Southampton Ports such as Guernsey; Hamburg; Zeebrugge; Le Havre; Amsterdam; Rotterdam; Cherbourg||See prices|
|Southampton Ports such as Guernsey||See prices|
This information is for reference purposes only. Information correct at the time of writing.
Top 3 Cruise & Ferry Deals
- Irish Ferries Ireland mini cruise from £38pp
- Day trip to Rosslare with Stena Line from £5.50pp
- Sail to Belfast with Stena Line from £10pp each way
To find other ports near you, take a look at the UK port map here.
Southampton Docks, Southampton, Hampshire, SO14 3GG, United Kingdom
Southampton benefits from excellent road links although sometimes the sheer volume of traffic (particularly during rush hour and when several cruise ships are docked) can snarl up some of these arterial routes.
The M27 runs across the north of the city with the M271 feeding the western side. The M3 branches off the M27 north of Southampton and runs to the M25 outside London. Take the A34 to Newbury for the M4 to South Wales.
The M27 runs east to Portsmouth where the A27 takes over leading to Chichester, Worthing, Brighton, and Eastbourne.
Cruise terminal maps
Southampton has four cruise terminals used frequently by cruise lines and when several ships are docked it can get really busy.
A couple of the terminals have similar sounding names and many people get easily confused about which one they should be heading towards.
Matrix road signs help lead the way and often show the names of the ships along with basic directions. Keep an eye out for fixed signs pointing to "Dock Gate" numbers as these will help you find the correct entrance.
Ocean Cruise Terminal
Berth 101, Dock Gate 8 or 10, Western Docks, Southampton, SO15 1AJ
This is my favourite cruise terminal as it's the closest one to the city centre, making it easy to walk from here to the train station. It's a short distance from Mayflower Park and the landmark triangular feature of the Grand Harbour hotel.
Use Dock Gate 8 for easiest access to the car park although sometimes you'll be directed through Dock Gate 10. If entering via Dock Gate 10 turn left.
Mayflower Cruise Terminal
Berth 106, Dock Gate 10, Western Docks, Southampton, SO15 1HJ
I've walked from the train station here with a wheeled suitcase. It's a brisk 10 minute walk although I admittedly used a taxi for the return journey as I had to catch a train and couldn't make it if I walked back. Incidentally a one way taxi fare was around £7.
Use Dock Gate 10 for access and turn right. Follow the signs for what seems like an eternity before turning left to reach the terminal building.
City Cruise Terminal
Berth 46/47, Dock Gate 4, Eastern Docks, Southampton, SO14 3QN
I'm not a massive fan of this location as it feels quite far away from the city centre but the Carnival group of cruise lines (P&O Cruises, Cunard and Princess Cruises) certainly love it.
Use Dock Gate 4 for access and the terminal is on the right hand side.
Queen Elizabeth II Cruise Terminal
Berth 38/39, Dock Gate 4, Eastern Docks, SO14 3GG
This terminal can be found further beyond City Cruise Terminal and is often used when the port is busy. It has the least convenient location of all of Southampton's cruise terminals. it also has the greatest industrial feeling about it.
Use Dock Gate 4 for access and head straight on for what feels like ages. The terminal is on the right hand side near the end of the road.
Car parking is a premium in Southampton and the burgeoning cruise industry has created a healthy demand, particularly when the 4,000+ passenger ships dock.
Official cruise car parking is available at each of the cruise terminals.
Cruise & Passenger Services (CPS) handles parking from Ocean Cruise Terminal and QEII Terminal. They offer mandatory valet parking on embarkation so you'll need to leave your keys with them. Cruise parking for sailings with Cunard, P&O Cruises, and Princess is handled by CPS.
ABP Southampton Port Parking handles the self parking facilities (you keep your keys) at City Cruise Terminal and Mayflower Cruise Terminal. If you are sailing with Royal Caribbean, Celebrity Cruises, MSC Cruises, Norwegian Cruise Line (NCL), Saga, and Fred. Olsen you'll likely be booking with ABP Parking.
Official on-site cruise car parking rates vary depending on supplier, location and length of itinerary but allow for £10 to £15 per 24 hours. Pre-book online to save time and hassle.
A number of off-site operators offer car parking with a shuttle transfer into the city. The rates for these tend to be marked slightly lower than the on-site suppliers although not by much. What you save in cost you lose in convenience.
Hotels offer cruise and stay offers combining an overnight stay with a week or two of car parking included in the price. Careys Manor Hotel, Chewton Glen, Chilworth Manor Hotel, De Vere Venues New Place, Grand Harbour, Mercure Southampton Centre Dolphin Hotel, Holiday Inn Express M27 J7, Highfield House Hotel, Hilton at the Ageas Bowl, Hilton Hotel Chilworth, Holiday Inn Southampton, Holiday Inn Winchester, Jurys Inn Southampton, Lainston House Hotel, Marriott Meon Valley Hotel & Country Club, Macdonald Botley Park, Montagu Arms Hotel, Novotel Southampton, Pig in the wall, Rhinefield House Hotel, Solent Hotel Fareham, The Star Hotel Southampton, and The White Star Tavern Southampton are all known to have offered cruise and stay packages.
Some hotels include transfers in the rate, while others rely on you paying for taxi to and from the port - remember to factor this cost into your cost comparisons.
Sadly there's not yet an easy way to compare cruise and parking packages let alone book them online. You'll have to ring around to get live prices which can take a fair bit of time. As a guide the cost will usually be around £100 to £200 for the budget hotels and up to £550 for the most luxurious options. The more expensive options tend to include return transfers but can cost as much as a mini cruise for two people!
Car parking for the ferry is available at the nearby Triangle Car Park. When I checked in May 2016 the rate was £16 per 24 hours. Discounts were available for longer periods such as three days or a week of parking. Selected dates throughout the year (mostly in August and September) are termed 'peak periods' and the rate is hiked to £26 per 24 hours on these dates. Pre-pay online or pay via the machines on arrival.
West Quay shopping centre may be another cost-saving alternative. In May 2016 parking cost £5 per 24 hours. The location - more or less across the road from Ocean Cruise Terminal - makes this an attractive option for short mini cruises. The down side is that this is a busy car park so unlike the on-site parking there will be a steady stream of cars coming and going. Your car may also be one of very few left there overnight.
Getting there by coach
National Express has a stop in central Southampton at the Coach Station on Harbour Parade. It's a short walk to Ocean Cruise Terminal but you may want to consider a taxi ride for the other three terminals.
Route 032 runs from Bournemouth to London through Southampton and Winchester.
Route 033 connects London to Salisbury via Heathrow Airport, Basingstoke and Southampton.
Route 203 is the airport route from Southsea to Heathrow and travels through Portsmouth and Southampton.
Route 303 links Blackpool and Weymouth through a series of stops at Bolton, Liverpool, Chester, Manchester, Stoke-on-Trent, Birmingham, Oxford, Southampton, Portsmouth, and Bournemouth.
Route 315 bridges the south west with the south coast. Coaches travel from Eastbourne to Brighton, Portsmouth, Southampton, Bournemouth, Weymouth. Exeter, Plymouth, Bodmin, Newquay, St Austell, Truro, Falmouth and St Ives before terminating at Penzance.
Getting there by train
Southampton Central Station is a short distance away from the port. Ocean Cruise Terminal and Mayflower Cruise Terminal are walkable if you have packed lightly but you'll need a taxi to City Cruise Terminal or Queen Elizabeth II Cruise Terminal. Happily there are usually plenty of taxis waiting outside the station to take you to the terminal buildings should you choose.
Services travel between this station and Salisbury, Portsmouth Harbour, Cardiff, London, Manchester, Weymouth, Great Malvern, Poole, Brighton (East Sussex), Romsey, and Bournemouth.
London can be reached in under 1½ hours, Birmingham and Cardiff in 2½ hours, and Edinburgh is a reasonable 7 hours away. Plan your journey here.