ocean village Southampton

So Much Love For Southampton

February 18, 2024
Home to Britain's largest and best loved port, Southampton has so much to offer cruise passengers sailing out or in. As a gateway to the rest of the world, your dream voyage starts right here…

Having sailed from Southampton a few times, we used to see UK’s gateway to the world as a major cruise hub and nothing more. But with five terminals – including the Horizon Cruise Terminal which was built in 2021– more than 2 million passengers actually pass through Britain’s most popular port each year.

No matter what floats your boat – from the mega ships to sleek boutique vessels and upscale luxury yachts – many lines sail from here to Northern Europe, the sparkling shores of the Mediterranean, the sunshine-bathed Canary Islands, the eternally tropical Caribbean and of course, the iconic Cunard transatlantic route to the Big Apple.

So whether you’re overnighting before your cruise or in port for just a day, you’ll be able to find anything from a stylish sleepover and leisurely pub lunch in the old town, to a few hours discovering the cities’ maritime history.

So come with us for a tour around this fascinating city which has so much more to offer than a sprawling Ikea and rows of shipping containers…

City Sleepover

If overnighting in the city, there are some great options when it comes to accommodation to suit everyone from couples to families and groups. 

The world’s first hometel, Room2 is a home away from home with generously proportioned rooms featuring king-sized beds, huge windows, fully-equipped kitchens, unexpected touches including shopping bags, amenities boxes (we especially loved the emergency poncho for rainy days) and in-room recycling facilities – some even have mezzanine level bedrooms. Lots of cruise passengers check in here before or after their voyage – your travel agent should be able to help or you can book direct.

Kick off the day with one of the convenient breakfast bags, which are available at a time of your choosing. Relax with a coffee or a tipple of your choice in the colourful Living Room – the on-site coffee and cocktail bar. There’s also a gym, laundry room and well-stocked pantry with drinks and snacks. Sailing on Cunard with your pampered pooch? You will be pleased to know that Room2 is also pet-friendly.

Maritime Masterpieces 

Queen Mary ship

Southampton’s martime history is all on display at the SeaCity Museum 

We loved the SeaCity Museum which tells the story of the people of the city, their fascinating lives and historic connections with the sea, including the tragic tale of the Titanic, which saw more than 500 residents never return. If you are lucky, you can tour the museum with an art historian who will make your visit come alive. We recommend you allow at least two hours to see everything; this museum is a treasure trove of maritime history and a must for cruise fans.

Titanic Trail is the ideal starting point for visitors to Southampton and ideal if you’re pushed for time. The 75-minute walking tour features key locations in and around the city and port, providing a fascinating backstory to the ship, its passengers and crew. You can download a map at Visit Southampton’s website.

No matter how long you have, the QE2 Mile is a self guided pedestrian route revealing the hidden histories of the Old Town – simply look out for the iron plates embedded into the paving of the high street.

Drink And Dine

The Whitesar Tavern

The Whitestar Tavern is a great gastropub that serves delicious dishes with plenty of atmosphere

The White Star Tavern is a real gem and one not to be missed if you’re looking for a centrally located eaterie. This colourful and beautifully designed gastropub is located close to the river in a smart part of the city, and caters for any party size over lunch, Sunday lunch or dinner. There are even some surprisingly elegant boutique style rooms if you want to be at the heart of the action.

We also highly recommend Mango Thai Tapas for lunch or dinner which is situated steps from the SeaCity Museum and Southampton City Art Gallery (which is free by the way). We indulged in a real feast for lunch which kicked off with some divine cocktails, followed by a flavoursome prawn Pad Thai and some nibbly bits.     

Shop ‘Till You Cruise 

Want to get your shop on? Forgotten to pack a pair of heels for formal night? Southampton has you covered. Westquay is home to more than 90 stores and 100 brands, including John Lewis and Marks & Spencer, as well as high end and designer stores Flannels, BOSS and Apple. Westquay also offers dining and leisure with a plethora of restaurants, a 10-screen luxury Showcase Cinema de Lux, escape room and 12-lane bowling alley.

Alternatively, head to the Marlands Shopping Centre which houses many small independent shops.

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