Traveling from London to Southampton cruise terminal can be a bit of a confusing journey if you have never done it before, or if you are traveling to the UK for the first time.
Southampton is the United Kingdom’s busiest cruise port and is used by many major cruise lines as a hub for itineraries serving Europe the Mediterranean countries and the Scandinavian and Baltic regions.
The distance from Southampton to London is around 80 miles. Reaching the cruise terminal is relatively easy as the terminal is well served by road, rail, and air links.
Many overseas cruisers joining a cruise at Southampton will typically fly into one of the two major London Airports: London Heathrow or London Gatwick and usually spend a day or two doing some sightseeing in London, before heading down to Southampton the day before the cruise or the day of the cruise.
Top tip: If you are flying to the UK for your cruise, always plan to arrive at least a day before your cruise. You don’t want to risk a flight delay or missed connection to ruin your well-earned vacation.
So what’s the best way to get from Central London to Southampton Cruise Terminal? Well fortunately there are a few different transport options depending on your budget and preferences.
In this article, we will look at the best options for traveling from Central London to Southampton by Train, Coach, Car, or Private Shuttle. If you are traveling from Heathrow Airport to Southampton Cruise Terminal, then follow this comprehensive guide instead.
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How to Get From London To Southampton Cruise Port – Contents
How to Travel from Central London to Southampton Cruise Terminal By Train
There are two train stations at Southampton – “Southampton Central” and “Southampton Airport Parkway”. The train station closest to the Cruise Terminal and City Center is Southampton Central Station, so be careful not to confuse the two.
UK train travel tickets come in various flavors which can make it a bit confusing. You’ll see train ticket types like “advance”, “off-peak”, and “anytime”. However, generally, you can ignore these terms and just see what price is offered for the time you wish to travel.
Booking a “return” ticket can sometimes be less expensive than booking two single journeys, but automatic booking engines like Trainline.com will always help find you the cheapest tickets.
Booking train tickets around 10 to 12 weeks early can usually net you the best deals as this is when timetable prices are usually released, but don’t fret if you’ve left it till the last minute; you might still snag a bargain fare. Check out Trainline or National Rail for speedy comparisons and bookings.
If you do a search on Trainline.com you will see that there are two main direct train routes from London to Southampton Central. There is a service from London Waterloo Station to Southampton and one from London Victoria to Southampton.
London Waterloo to Southampton Central is Our Recommended Route From Central London.
The service from London Waterloo is always my personal preference when I am cruising from Southampton. It’s central, and super connected to the rest of London by tube and bus.
The journey from the center of London is around 1 hour 20 minutes and the train is the fastest route available. The alternative London Victoria route is much longer with a journey time of 2 hours and 30 minutes!
View the times and prices of London Waterloo to Southampton Central Trains
The service between London’s Waterloo station and Southampton Central railway station is operated by South Western Railway and the trains are very comfortable and clean. The trains are modern and include charging points for mobile devices and onboard Free Wi-Fi.
Depending on the specific time you leave, the train only makes 3 or 4 stops before arriving in Southampton. It does stop at Southampton Airport first, so don’t get confused and get off there.
Traveling with a lot of luggage for a cruise can be a bit of a pain it has to be said, as luggage racks for larger items are not available on most trains that serve this route (Think commuter train style cabins). In that case, you just store larger items near the main doors but make sure you do not block the exits. There is overhead storage above the seats which can actually hold a decent-sized suitcase.
Prices will vary depending on the time of day and how far ahead you book. But expect to pay from around $18 (£14.50) one way if you pay in advance, rising to $34 (£26) if you book on the day.
If you would prefer a little more comfort and room, First Class seats are available on this service as well and range in price from $30 (£24) to $55 (£43).
For the best prices I use and recommend Trainline.com.
Getting To London Waterloo Station Using the London Underground
Of course, London Waterloo is a convenient station if you are staying in a hotel near there. Otherwise, you will have to negotiate the London Transport system.
Fortunately, it’s not difficult as the London Underground is easy to use and navigate and Taxis / Cabs and Uber are readily available.
How to Avoid Stairs When Travelling on London Underground With Luggage
If you have ever travelled on the London Underground system you will know there are a LOT of stairs. There is even one section with 320 steps to the surface! That’s equivalent to climbing a 5-storey building!
Much of the London Underground was built in the Victorian Era when there was little thought about accessibility issues like wheelchair access.
Negotiating London’s Tube stations with heavy luggage is therefore not the easiest as you have to plan carefully to avoid having to carry your luggage up and down stairs to get to a platform.
If you do intend to use the Tube to get to London Waterloo Station, I strongly suggest using the Transport For London Journey Planner to find the best route from your local hotel. Their system allows you to select routes based on accessibility, which is great for hauling luggage or if one of your fellow travelers has accessibility issues.
For example, you can select a route that avoids stairs, and only uses escalators. Or you can select to avoid both stairs and escalators.
To do this simply enter your start and end destination in London. Then, when the route is shown, click on the “Edit Preferences” option and you will see a screen like this:-
How to Pay For Tube Tickets On London Underground
When traveling on the Tube, you do not need to purchase any tickets in advance. When you get to the ticket barriers you will see a “Tap Your Card” sensor. You can use either Google Pay or Apple Pay on your smartphone, or tap a Contactless-payment enabled Credit or Debit Card. Then when you leave the tube station, simply tap it again. You will then be charged the lowest fare for that journey automatically.
In fact, if you are doing some sightseeing around London, you don’t even need to worry about buying a “Daily” discount ticket. The system will collate your multiple journey fares and charge you the minimum fare for the day. It’s a great system.
A Note of Caution – UK Rail and Tube Strikes / Industrial Action
At the time of writing, there has been a long ongoing period of Industrial action which has been affecting UK Railway journeys and the London Underground. This has resulted in a period of intermittent strikes from time to time which can seriously affect any travel plans.
However, due to UK laws, Industrial Unions have to announce any strike plans in advance with at least 14 days notice given.
For railway journeys, you can check any planned industrial action here.
There was also an ongoing trade dispute that was impacting the London Underground, but for the moment, any action has been suspended. You can check the status of the London Underground on their website.
How to Travel from London to Southampton By Coach
If you are keeping your budget tight you might want to consider using a Coach service to get to Southampton. You can either do this via public transport or use a service provided by your cruise line.
Public Coach Service From Central London to Southampton
National Express is the UK’s largest scheduled coach operator and operates frequent coach services between London Victoria Bus Station and Southampton City Centre. London Victoria Coach Station is located adjacent to London Victoria Train Station.
Online “fixed time” non-flexible tickets cost around $10 (£8) each way and the journey takes 2 hours and 30 minutes.
National Express coaches run direct routes from 6:30 am until Midnight – coaches depart from Victoria Coach station almost one bus every hour. It’s a direct service with just one stop at the local University before it arrives at the Southampton Coach Station in the heart of Southampton City Center.
You have a standard luggage allowance of one large suitcase and one piece of “soft” hand luggage per person. Any additional luggage items are charged at $13 (£10) per item.
Additional luggage can be added either online at the time of booking or you can pay the charge when boarding the Coach if you are unsure what your luggage requirements might be.
If you want to reserve specific seats on the Coach so that you are all seated together, you need to pay an additional $2.50 (£2) per person.
The coach is modern, and comfortable and includes free WiFi and charging points.
Coach Transfer Service Offered By Your Cruise Line
Most Cruise Lines operating out of Southampton will offer a transfer service either from London Airports or a central location like London Victoria. However, this is usually quite an expensive option and is usually only available on the same day the ship departs.
To give you an example of transfer costs, Norwegian Cruise Line charges $75 / £55 one-way and $100 per person for return transfers from London Heathrow Airport to Southampton cruise terminal.
Due to the cost per person, and the fact that transfers are only available on the embarkation day, I do not recommend using the Cruise Line’s own service.
However, always check what they are offering as some cruise lines (e.g. P & O Cruises) do offer complimentary transfers depending on what packages you have booked with them.
Other Transfer Options Between London and Southampton Cruise Terminal: By Car, Uber, Shuttle or Private Shuttle Service
Central London to Southampton by Car or Private Shuttle takes around 2 hours and is an easy drive down the M3 motorway. But it’s always smart to plan for a little extra time to cover any unexpected traffic or tolls.
With a car at your beck and call, you can check out some iconic sights en route—fancy stopping off at Stonehenge en route to Southampton, or Windsor Castle?
Private Transfer Service
Private transfers offer a more personalized service as they will come and get you directly from your Hotel. If there is a group of you it may not be as expensive as you think.
You benefit from that door-to-door service and some companies may offer you the option to include some sightseeing stops along the way.
Always do your own research and ensure you are dealing with a reliable company who have multiple vehicles in their fleet. The last thing you want is “Joe Blogs One Man Band Private Transfer” having some vehicle troubles on transfer day.
Viator is a great place to check Private Transfer prices and the various options available.
Car Rental Options
If you prefer to drive, car rental gives you the freedom to drive on your own terms. You can book a one-way hire with many Car rental companies whereby you can pick the car up in London and drop it off at Southampton.
I use and recommend Rentalcars.com for Car Hire.
Uber and Shared Shuttles
Another alternative to the “traditional” Private Shuttle, Uber is readily available in London and Southampton. However, due to Uber’s “dynamic” pricing model, it’s always hard to pin down a price. But if there is a group of you, it could be an option.
How to Transfer from Southampton City Centre or Southampton Train Station to the Cruise Terminal
Southampton is a popular hub for cruise departures, with five cruise terminals: City Cruise, Horizon, Mayflower, Ocean, and Queen Elizabeth II. If you’re in the city center or at Southampton Central Train Station, you’ve got a few options to reach your cruise terminal.
For those staying close to the City Centre or near Southampton Central, the City and Horizon Terminals are within walking distance. It’s a great choice if you’re up for a short stroll and you don’t have too much luggage.
The Ocean, Queen Elizabeth II, and Mayflower terminals are a bit further out, so walking might not be the most convenient for these locations.
Hopping in a taxi cab is the most flexible option. You can grab one from the City Centre or train station with a typical fare of around £10 or $13. It’s quick, usually taking typically around 10 minutes to reach your terminal. Be aware that many Cab drivers will prefer cash, and not all of them will offer card payment services. If you do pay cash, you will need British Pounds as US Dollars are not normally accepted locally.
If you are staying overnight in a local hotel, you can avoid any queues for Taxis and pre-book a Cab to pick you up directly from your hotel. Usually, your Hotel Reception will have a list of local Taxi firms they recommend.
Local Taxi Firms in Southampton
|Aero Taxis Southampton Ltd
|+44 2380 010203
|A2B Southampton Taxi LTD
|+44 2380 080808
|+44 7733 393939
|Southampton Taxi and Airport Transfers
|+44 2380 553631
|Cab My Ride
|+44 2380 555555
|+44 2381 920677
Uber is also available in Southampton if you don’t want to seek out a local Cab.
Local Bus Services in Southampton
If you’re eyeing a more budget-friendly transfer, consider taking a bus. The fare is approximately £2, but the availability varies depending on your specific terminal and it will drop you at the port gate, so there will still be some walking to do.
Personally, I would just jump in a local Cab.
Overseas Travellers – How To Avoid International Roaming Charges on your Phone
If you are traveling into the United Kingdom from overseas, you will want to check with your local Cellphone provider if your existing plan includes International Roaming. If it doesn’t you could end up with a very hefty bill.
Many providers offer reasonably priced options, but we have found that by far the cheapest way to make calls and use the Internet (4G / 5G) when abroad is to add a “digital e-Sim” to your smartphone – this basically gives you two cellphone providers on your phone. Your local provider and another for International calls and or data.
It’s so much easier and there are no large unexpected bills. We use and recommend Airalo for this.
A Well-Planned Journey Will Ensure You Don’t Miss Your Cruise Ship
As you can see there are a number of options on how to get from London to Southampton Cruise Terminal. Like most of these things, your final choice will most likely be based on your budget and travel preferences.
Think carefully about how you will handle your luggage. I don’t mind dragging my luggage around, so I always go for the train as we usually travel to London by Train anyway as we have a home in Scotland.
The National Express coach is also a very popular option and the reviews on Tripadvisor are good, so it is definitely worth considering.
If you are not on a budget and prefer a more personalized service, a private transfer could be the way to go.
Have you traveled from Central London to Southampton Cruise Terminal before? What transportation options did you use and would you use it again? Let us know in the comments.