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The historic port town of Southampton, located on England’s south coast, claims title of Cruise Capital of Northern Europe. Situated in the county of Hampshire, Southampton is 75 miles (120 kilometers) southwest of London and 19 miles (30 kilometers) northwest of Portsmouth. Southampton has been a major British port for hundreds of years seeing its fair share of glory and tribulations. The Port of Southampton was officially established in 1838, the year the first regular steamship service crossed the Atlantic.
There are four dedicated cruise terminals at Southampton which play host to a wide variety of cruise lines.
Best known as the homeport of Cunard's Queen Mary 2, Southampton now hosts a wide variety of cruise ships in the booming European cruise market with the principal lines being Cunard, Fred. Olsen, Celebrity, MSC, Royal Caribbean, Princess, P&O Cruises and Saga Cruises.
Even though Southampton is mostly a turnaround port, plan to spend some time in the City of Southampton. The concentration of museums celebrating maritime roots and prosperous medieval past, are centered in Old Town. Modern conveniences like outdoor markets, shopping malls, parks, recreation activities, restaurants and pubs are also available.
Southampton, in the county of Hampshire, may not be in every tourist brochure, but this city and its environs hold all kinds of attractions-and not a few quiet pleasures. Close to London, the green fields of Hampshire divide the cliffs and coves of the West Country from the hustle and bustle of the big city. Two important cathedrals, Winchester and Salisbury (pronounced sawls-bree), are nearby, as are stately homes, intriguing market towns and hundreds of haunting prehistoric remains; Stonehenge, the most famous of these, should not be missed. These, however, are just the highlights. Anyone spending time in the region should rent a car and set out to discover the quiet back-road villages that were home to numerous literary greats lived-such as Chawton, where Jane Austen lived-or the semiwilderness of the New Forest.
Seafaring Saxons and Romans used Southampton's outer harbor as a commercial trading port for centuries, allowing it to become one of England's wealthiest cities. Though still home to England's second-largest container terminal, it's now primarily used for passenger traffic. As the home port of many great ocean liners of the 20th century, including the Queen Mary and the ill-fated Titanic, as well as being the departure point for Henry V's fleet bound for Agincourt and the Mayflower, Southampton has one of England's richest maritime traditions. Much of the city center is unremarkable, but bits of its history peeks out from between modern buildings. The Old Town retains its medieval air, and considerable parts of Southampton's castellated town walls remain. Other attractions include an art gallery, extensive parks, and a couple of good museums.
Mayflower Park and the Pilgrim Fathers' Memorial. This memorial was built to commemorate the departure of 102 passengers on the North America-bound Mayflower from Southampton on August 15, 1620. A plaque also honors the 2 million U.S. troops who embarked from Southampton during World War II. Western Esplanade.
Where You're Docked
Located on the south coast of England, Southampton served as the historic ocean liner gateway for the British Empire and the intense North Atlantic passenger trade to the U.S. and Canada. Today it is the U.K.'s – and indeed Europe's -- leading cruise port.
Southampton has four widely separated cruise terminals. Two -- Ocean Terminal and QEII Terminal, accessible via gate 4 -- are located at the Eastern Docks, while the others -- Mayflower Terminal and City Terminal, accessible via gates 8, 10 or 20 -- can be found at the Western Docks. Both are about a five-minute taxi ride from the Southampton Central railway station, which is close to the city center.
Associated British Ports (ABP) owns and operates the Southampton Docks.  The port serves the vast majority of voyages beginning and ending in the UK. The port leads the way in the UK cruise industry. A comprehensive cruise calendar is available on the Associated British Ports web site
There are four cruise terminals:
Queen Elizabeth II Terminal, berths 38/39
Mayflower Terminal, berth 106
City Terminal, berth 101
Ocean Terminal, berth 46. Most of the sites are within a 15-minute walk to City Center from the cruise ship. Transportation is readily available at the port.
Getting Around
In Southampton: AutoEurope (800-223-5555) is a good first call. It represents a range of car rental agencies such as Avis and Hertz (and often offers better rates than the individual agencies). Hertz has a rental agency on West Quay Road and Southampton Central Station.
Between Southampton and London by train: Go to Southampton Central Station for Southwest Trains to London. You have the option of four departures an hour (some are direct to London; check timetables) with journey times of 70 to 90 minutes. To check schedules, visit Southwest Trains or National Rail Enquiries online. You can also call 0871 200-4950 for train timetable information. Fares are cheapest for departures after 10:00 a.m., so ask for a "cheap day single” (if you're not planning on coming back) or “day return” if you're planning on returning to the ship.
City Walls
The best views of Southampton's 14th century medieval walls - the third longest unbroken stretch of city wall in Britain - are obtained from the Western Esplanade, also the site of Wind Whistle Tower. The only remaining medieval church in Southampton is St Michael's on Castle Way. Dating from 1070, the church contains Norman relics and a font made of Tournai marble. Follow the walls south to Mayflower Park, which lies opposite the Mayflower Memorial to the Pilgrim Fathers, and Wool House, a 14th century warehouse.
Also nearby is the God's House Tower on Winkle Street, a 12th century hospital dedicated to St Julian. Guided walking tours of the old walls and medieval vaults are available. Location: Bargate, Southampton -- Official site: www.discoversouthampton.co.uk/visit
Tudor House and Garden
The magnificent Tudor house in St Michael's Square was built in the late 15th century for a wealthy merchant family. Now a museum, it displays exhibits from the Victorian and Edwardian eras, as well as periodic exhibitions encompassing over 900 years of local history. Visitors can use free audio guides while enjoying the reconstructed kitchens and numerous artifacts, including Georgian and Victorian jewelry, and archaeological finds from the medieval and Tudor periods. Another classic old home to visit is Medieval Merchant's House in French Street, a 13th century townhouse filled with period furniture and wall hangings. Location: St Michael's Square, Southampton Official site: www.tudorhouseandgarden.com
SeaCity Museum
SeaCity Museum tells the story of the people of Southampton and their connection to Britain's rich maritime history, including the stories of those who departed from (or arrived in) the port over the centuries and Southampton's Titanic Story.
The 1930s art deco Civic Centre that houses this fascinating museum is also home to the city's Art Gallery with its interesting selection of old masters and English artists from 1750 to the present, as well as a valuable collection of ceramics.
Location: Havelock Rd, Southampton -- Official site: www.seacitymuseum.co.uk
4 Ocean Village
Ocean Village
East of Southampton's old town, Princess Alexandra Dock has been transformed into a modern leisure and shopping center. Smart yachts are moored in the harbor in front of Canute's Pavilion with its designer boutiques, gourmet restaurants, cinemas (including one for art-house and foreign-language films), boat trips, sailing facilities, and great views of the cruise ships moored in the Eastern Docks. Location: Ocean Village, Southampton -- Official site: www.oceanvillagesouthampton.com
SS Shieldhall
SS Shieldhall is a heritage steamship and part of Britain's National Historic Fleet. The largest surviving working steamship of her type in Europe, this historic vessel - built in 1954 as one of the Clyde sludge boats - has been fully restored and provides a working example of the machinery typical of the great ships that plied the world's oceans between the 1870s and 1960s. In addition to educational and sightseeing outings, the ship regularly appears in the Southampton Maritime Festival, a two-day heritage event that brings together a host of activities, displays, and attractions, including historic vessels, vehicles and fly-overs by vintage aircraft. Address: 11 Avonborne Way, Chandler's Ford, Eastleigh -- Official site: www.ss-shieldhall.co.uk
Solent Sky Museum
The Solent Sky Museum uses a fantastic collection of models and photographs, as well as 18 magnificent flying machines, to tell the story of Southampton's aviation heritage. The region is famous for its experimental and development work between 1908 and the late 1960s, the most famous being the Spitfire. Showpieces of the exhibition are the huge Sandringham flying boat, and the Supermarine racing seaplane (the predecessor of the Spitfire) that won the Schneider Trophy in the early 1930s.
Location: Albert Rd South, Royal Crescent, Southampton -- Official site: www.solentskymuseum.org
Old Town
Just to the south of the city center, Southampton's Old Town has many unique locations associated with famous residents and visitors including William the Conqueror, Henry V, William Shakespeare, the Pilgrim Fathers, Isaac Watts and Jane Austen.Originally built as the main gateway to the medieval city, 800 year old Bargate marks the entrance to the Old Town. Numerous plaques have been laid from Bargate down to the waterside to commemorate key events from the early Roman settlement to the opening of the National Oceanography Centre.
Location: Bargate, Southampton -- Official site: www.discoversouthampton.co.uk/visit/things-to-do/history-and-heritage
Titanic Trail
The Titanic departed Southampton on her doomed maiden voyage to New York, and numerous sites around the city are associated with the vessel. One of the best ways to learn about the city's connections to the vessel is through the informative Titanic Trail
Along the way, you'll visit the remarkable Titanic Engineers' Memorial in East Park, a beautiful bronze and granite memorial unveiled in front of a crowd of 100,000 Southampton residents in April 1914 (none of the ship's 35 engineers survived). Nearby is the Titanic Musician's Memorial dedicated to the ships musicians.Official site: www.discoversouthampton.co.uk/visit/things-to-do/walks-and-tours
Netley Abbey
The beautiful ruins of Netley Abbey, founded in 1239, have inspired many English writers, poets and artists, including John Constable. The village of Netley is also worth visiting, and is associated with famous people such as Queen Victoria who laid the foundation stone of the Royal Victoria Military Hospital which Florence Nightingale helped design. (It's also where Arthur Conan Doyle's fictional Dr. Watson was said to have trained.)
Location: Netley, Hampshire
Official site: www.english-heritage.org.uk/daysout/properties/netley-abbey/
Romsey Abbey
Romsey is a small market town located on the River Test, famous for its fly-fishing, and its town center dominated by the massive Romsey Abbey, founded in 907 AD by Benedictine nuns. A Norman church was added in 1125, while the west end with its pointed arches was built in 1225. In the southern choir aisle and outside the south transept are two Saxon stone crucifixes. Also of interest is nearby King John's House and Heritage Centre, dating from 1206 and containing a museum; and Broadlands House and Mountbatten Exhibition, home to Lord Mountbatten, the last viceroy and first governor general of India. Location: Romsey, Hampshire -- Official site: www.romseyabbey.org.uk
Mottisfont Abbey Garden, House and Estate
Mottisfont Abbey Garden, House and Estate is a National Trust property situated on the River Test. The 12th century abbey became a private house after the Dissolution and contains a drawing room featuring a unique 20th century picture collection. The garden and estate grounds includes Mottisfont Village and is renowned for its collection of roses, its walled garden and magnificent trees. Location: Romsey, Hampshire Official site: www.nationaltrust.org.uk/mottisfont/
Sir Harold Hillier Gardens and Arboretum
The Sir Harold Hillier Gardens and Arboretum is home to one of England's finest collections of trees and shrubs, particularly beautiful when ablaze with color from spring through fall.
Location: Jermyns Lane, Ampfield, Romsey -- Official site: http://www3.hants.gov.uk/hilliergardens
Calshot Castle
Calshot Castle
Calshot Castle was once one of Henry VIII's coastal defenses. The fort houses an exhibition and recreated pre-WWI barrack room, plus excellent views of the Solent from the roof. Location: Calshot, Hampshire. Official site: www.english-heritage.org.uk/daysout/properties/calshot-castle/
Bishop's Waltham Palace
Bishop's Palace is an English Heritage property that includes the ruins of a moated palace built by Bishop Henry de Blois of Winchester in 1135 and extended in the 15th century. Winchester was the richest diocese in England, and properties such as this were grandiose and extravagantly appointed. Today, the Bishop's Waltham Town Museum occupies the ground floor of the farmhouse. Location: Bishop's Waltham, Hampshire. Official site: www.english-heritage.org.uk/daysout/properties/bishops-waltham-palace/
Andover is an ancient town located on the Anton River 22 miles north of Southampton famous for its watermills. Finkley Down Farm Park has a variety of farm animals and poultry with a children's playground and plenty of space for picnics.
Location: Andover, Hampshire. Official site: www.finkleydownfarm.co.uk
Ludgershall Castle and Cross
Ludgershall Castle and Cross Share:
Ludgershall Castle and Cross are the ruins of an early 12th century royal hunting palace and medieval cross situated just 10 miles from prehistoric Stonehenge. The castle was set within two adjacent enclosures surrounded by earthwork banks and ditches. The northern enclosure contained the most important buildings, including the great hall, a tower and domestic apartments, while the southern enclosure had timber buildings including the castle farm, stables and kitchens. Location: Ludgershall, Wiltshire. Official site: www.english-heritage.org.uk/daysout/properties/ludgershall-castle-and-cross/
Beaulieu, just 14 miles from Southampton, is home to the famous National Motor Museum, one of the world's largest museums dedicated to the automobile. Its wonderful exhibits include the official collection of original James Bond vehicles as well as other famous movie cars, including the flying Ford Anglia from Harry Potter. Also of note is the fantastic Palace House and Gardens, formerly the 13th century Great Gatehouse of Beaulieu Abbey with its immaculate spreading lawns and walkways overlooking the Beaulieu River. It's also a great place to begin exploring the wonderful New Forest area.
Location: Beaulieu, Brockenhurst, Hampshire -- Official site: www.beaulieu.co.uk
SeaCity Museum
This museum's devoted to Southampton's storied maritime history. The Gateway to the World gallery brings together artifacts from Roman, Saxon, and medieval times with models, mementos, and pieces of furniture from the age of the great clippers and cruise ships. The Titanic gallery displays a wealth of memorabilia from the ill-fated cruise ship, which left from the city's port, including footage, photos, and crew lists. There's also plenty of vital statistics dealing with the history of commercial shipping. Havelock Rd. Admission charged.
Maritime Museum
Maritime Museum is located in the former Wool House, which was built in 1417 to warehouse wool for trade. On permanent exhibit is the story of the Titanic’s crew. Look for carvings that were etched in the wall from French prisoners that were held in the building during In the Napoleonic Wars.
In 1912, the RMS Titanic sailed from Southampton. In honor of the people who lost their lives at sea is a memorial in East Park.
Founded in 1017, St. Michael’s Church is the oldest building still in use in the city. Inside is country’s oldest brass lectern dating from around 1350.
One of the region's most compelling and historically rich destinations, and still a thriving market town, Winchester's among the most historic of English cities. For more than four centuries it served first as the capital of the ancient kingdom of Wessex and then of England. Its imposing cathedral, the final resting place of notables ranging from Saxon kings to Jane Austen, still dominates the skyline.
Great Hall. A short walk from the cathedral, this hall is all that remains of the city's Norman castle; it's still used today for events and ceremonies. Here the English Parliament met for the first time in 1246; Sir Walter Raleigh was tried for conspiracy against King James I in 1603; and Dame Alice Lisle was sentenced to death by the brutal Judge Jeffreys for sheltering fugitives, after Monmouth's Rebellion in 1685. The hall's greatest relic hangs on its west wall: King Arthur's Round Table has places for 24 knights and a portrait of Arthur bearing a remarkable resemblance to King Henry VIII. Take time to wander through the garden named for the two Queen Eleanors-a re-creation of a medieval shady retreat. Castle Hill.
Winchester Cathedral. The city's greatest monument, begun in 1079 and consecrated in 1093, presents a sturdy, chunky appearance in keeping with its Norman construction, so that the Gothic lightness within is even more breathtaking. Its tower, transepts, and crypt, and the inside core of the great Perpendicular nave, reveal some of the world's best surviving examples of Norman architecture. Other features, such as the arcades, the presbytery (behind the quire, holding the high altar), and the windows, are Gothic alterations carried out between the 12th and 14th century. Among the many well-known people buried in the cathedral are William the Conqueror's son, William II ("Rufus"), mysteriously murdered in the New Forest in 1100; Izaak Walton (1593-1683), author of The Compleat Angler, whose memorial window in Silkestede's Chapel was paid for by "the fishermen of England and America"; and Jane Austen, whose grave lies in the north aisle of the nave. Firmly in the 20th century, Antony Gormley's evocative statue Sound II (1986) looms in the crypt, often standing in water (as it was designed to do), because of seasonal flooding. You can also explore the bell tower-with far-reaching views in fair weather-and other recesses of the building on a tour. Outside the cathedral, explore the Close, which contains neat lawns and the Deanery, Dome Alley, and Cheyney Court. The Close, Cathedral Precincts. Admission charged.
Jane Austen (1775-1817) lived the last eight years of her life, and wrote three of her novels, in this tiny Hampshire village. Her understated home is now a museum.
Jane Austen's House. It's here that Jane Austen wrote Emma, Persuasion, and Mansfield Park, and revised Sense and Sensibility, Northanger Abbey, and Pride and Prejudice. Now a museum, the house retains the modest but genteel atmosphere suitable to the unmarried daughter of a clergyman. Jane was famous for working through interruptions, but one protection against the outside world was the famous door that creaked. She asked that its hinges not be fixed because they gave her warning that someone was coming. The museum often schedules readings and other special events, so call ahead. Signed off A31/A32 roundabout. Admission charged.
Salisbury Cathedral
Salisbury's towering cathedral is unique among cathedrals as it was conceived and built as a whole in the amazingly short span of 38 years (1220-58). The spire, added in 1320, is England's tallest and a miraculous feat of medieval engineering-even though the point, 404 feet above the ground, is 2½ feet off vertical. The cloisters are the largest in England, and the octagonal Chapter House contains a marvelous 13th-century frieze showing scenes from the Old Testament. Here you can also see one of the four original copies of the Magna Carta, the charter of rights the English barons forced King John to accept in 1215; it was sent here for safekeeping in the 13th century. Cathedral Close, Salisbury. Admission charged.
One of England's most visited monuments, the circle of giant stones known as Stonehenge has baffled archaeologists for centuries. This World Heritage site is now enclosed by barriers, and visitors are kept on a paved path a short distance away from the stones. Construction of the circle began about 3000 BC, and it was used until around 1600 BC. It was made up of an outer circle of 30 sarsen stones-huge sandstone blocks weighing up to 25 tons, believed to have originated from the Marlborough Downs-and an earlier inner circle of bluestones that was constructed around 2500 BC. Within these circles was a horseshoe-shape group of sarsen trilithons (two large vertical stones supporting a third stone laid horizontally across it) and within that another horseshoe-shape grouping of bluestones. Many of the huge stones were brought from great distances before the invention of the wheel, and it's not certain how the stones got here.
The bluestones, for example, are thought to have come from the Preseli Hills on the Atlantic coast of Wales, and may have been moved by raft over sea and river, and then dragged on rollers across country despite weighing as much as 4 tons each-a total journey of 149 miles as the crow flies. However, every time a reconstruction of the journey has been attempted, it's failed. Stonehenge (the name derives from the Saxon term for "hanging stones") has been excavated several times over the centuries, although some of the site's mysteries have been solved, the primary reason for its erection remains unknown. Junction of A303 and A344/A360, Amesbury. Admission charged.
Shore Excursions
A number of shore excursions around the region are available. Popular trips include:
Day trips to Stonehenge and Salisbury. Cruisers visit the prehistoric monument and then spend time in the medieval city of Salisbury. Salisbury Cathedral is a highlight as well as the historic market square.
A visit to Osborne House on the Isle of Wight allows visitors to explore the home of Queen Victoria and her family.

An almost 2 hour transfer each way to the World Heritage City of Bath to visit the ancient Roman City, which is a 2,000-year-old spa town built around Britain’s only hot mineral springs.
Windsor Castle is a popular shore excursion. One of the principal official residences of the British monarchy, Windsor Castle is the site of the State Apartments, St. George’s Hall and St George’s Chapel. The tour includes a stop in Windsor town for shopping and sightseeing. The transfer time from Southampton is 90 minutes each way.
The Southampton Tourist Guides Association offers Heritage Walks for a small fee at 11.00 a.m. (Oct-May, Sundays only; June & July and Sept., Sun, Tue, Thurs. and Sat; and in August specialist walks every day) from the Bargate Monument in the city center, which dates back to the 12th century. The route visits the medieval town walls and vaults, St. Michael's Church (oldest section from 1070), and the site where the Mayflower and Speedwell sailed for America in 1620.
Eating Out
Head over to Southampton's upscale district -- a few block stretch along Oxford Street –- where places like the Oxford Brasserie (33 Oxford Street, (023 8063 5043), for bistro fare. The White Star Tavern and Dining Rooms (28 Oxford Street, 02380 821 990) started life as a seafarers' hotel, and since opening early in the new millennium, it has proven itself to be a flagship establishment in Southampton. The interior pays homage to the history of the building, with chandeliers and comfy leather sofas. and cuisine is "modern British" with familiar names such as local sausages and mash, beer battered fish and chips and healthier options, such as pan fried fillet of salmon or breast of free range chicken. There are also three different canape menus. There are numerous other chain and bistro-style eateries in this stretch, including pizzeria Prezzo; Chimichangas, for Mexican food and Café Brazil, on adjacent Latimer Street.
On the Quayside, the Italian Ennio's (Town Quay Road, 02380 221 159) is a favourite for lunch and dinner. Cuisine is hearty, service is lovely, and the ambience is charming. Another popular choice on this stretch of road is the Spanish La Regata (Town Quay, 023 8022 3456 ) for tapas and seafood; it's open for lunch and dinner and has outside seating. Cuccini's on the Quay (023 8033 5045, open 11 a.m. until late) is another Italian option for lunch and dinner; evenings it features a jazz musician.
Newly-opened The Pig in the Wall is primarily a hotel (see Accommodations), but is also serves hot and cold tapas-style piggy nibbles from its Deli counter at lunch and dinner.
Other recommendations in the city include Que Pasa (104-108 Above Bar Street, 023 8023 5930), a lively bar cafe right in the center of the city. The location is good if you've worn out your feet while shopping, as it is only a stone's throw from the West Quay Mall. The restaurant overlooks a small park, and it has tables outside as well. This is a casual place that starts to serve lunch at 11:30 a.m. and remains open past midnight each day. The food is nothing special -- burgers, fish ‘n' chips etc. -- but at very reasonable prices.
If you fancy Indian food, one of the finest is P.O.S.H. Spices (1 Queensway; 0870 742 6282), a spacious Indian Colonial restaurant with a superb lunch buffet that is hard to beat. Dishes run from distinctly regional Indian cooking to the type of curry lunches with all the condiments that the British colonials once enjoyed. There are also various theme nights, including 70's Night and Bollywood Extravaganza. Open Sunday to Friday for lunch and daily for dinner. At Kuti's (39 Oxford Street; 02380 221 585), where you'll find eclectic and inventive fusion cuisine, such as aloo brie tikki (potato balls flavored with ginger and cashew, filled with brie and served with tamarind sauce). Open seven days a week for lunch and dinner.
West Quay Retail Park, the first phase of Southampton's £250-million Esplanade development, has become a major hub for shoppers from the surrounding areas. The central shopping area is pedestrian only, and tree- and shrub-filled planters provide a backdrop for summer flowers and hanging baskets. You can sit and listen to the buskers (street entertainers). For a vast array of shops, try the Town Quay (tel. 023/8022-8353) or Southampton Market (no phone), but there may be little here to interest the international traveler.
Better shopping on the outskirts is at the Whitchurch Silk Mill, 28 Winchester St., Whitchurch (tel. 01256/892065; www.whitchurchsilkmill.org.uk). Admission is £3.50 for adults, £3 for students and seniors, £1.75 for children 4 to 16, and £8.75 for a family ticket. Visitors flock to this working mill, located in colorful surroundings on the River Test. The gift shop sells silk on the roll, ties, scarves, handkerchiefs, jewelry, and souvenirs. Hours are Tuesday to Sunday from 
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