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Better to Sleep at Gatwick or in Southampton pre-cruise?

Hello,

We will be flying into LGW the day before a cruise out of Southampton. Our flight lands at LGW about 17:00. We are debating staying near the airport for the night, and then taking a shuttle service the next morning to Southampton or taking the shuttle right after we land and spending the night in Southampton (near the port). We'd like to be on the ship by 15:00 for a 19:00 sail away.

Which would you advise?

Many thanks!

Posted by
7600 posts

What time do you need to board the ship?

Given your arrival time, I would go on to Southampton right away.

Posted by
2258 posts

What time do the cruise leave? Unless it departs really early, my suggestion would be that you take the train to Brighton from Gatwick and stay the night there. It is a more interesting town than Southampton in my opinion, and certainly more fun than an airport hotel.

Posted by
2978 posts

I agree that you should check to see what the all aboard time is for the ship. It could be as early as 4:00.

I wouldn't want to spend my time stuck in an airport hotel, and I would not want to start my morning with a long bus ride and then sitting around for hours waiting to board. My preference would be to get to my departure city the night before, be able to sleep in to get over my jet lag, then have a few hours of free time go walk around or get in a bit of last minute shopping (wine!) before heading to the cruise terminal.

Posted by
12 posts

We joined a cruise from Southampton a couple years ago and stayed at the Dolphin Hotel the night before embarkation.
It's a short taxi ride from the hotel to the cruise terminal and there were lots of services available in the area. We enjoyed a meal at the Red Lion pub a block away; a very historic place!
For ground transfer from Heathrow to Southampton I made an online reservation on the National Express bus prior to the trip. (national express.com)
After clearing customs it was easy to find the National Express stop in the ground transportation area of the terminal.
The bus ride was comfortable and inexpensive. from Heathrow, It took about an hour long to reach the Southampton Coach Station in the downtown area.
The walk was about 15 min. to our hotel. Taxis were plentiful at the bus terminal to get to the area hotels.

Posted by
3299 posts

I’d head straight to Southampton. If you’re already in Southampton there’s a better chance of getting to the cruise terminal in case of a transportation strike, bad weather, or unforeseen event. Also, since you’d already be in the general area, you could probably sleep in a little and your departure day should be less stressful. My wife and I prefer to minimize our risk when there’s someplace we need to be with a set departure or entrance time.

Posted by
1652 posts

Badger is right, but so is everyone else: stay someplace interesting, but not Brighton b/c it's too far from your ship,
so I suggest you stay in Portsmouth so you can go to the Royal Navy museum, etc.,
and still be just half an hour ride from the cruise terminal.

Posted by
2486 posts

You are getting in late and will be boarding early. Don’t even consider Brighton or someplace that looks more “interesting”. You don’t have that sort of time. You need to sleep, have breakfast, get on the ship. Go right from Gatwick to Southampton.

Posted by
4763 posts

I agree generally with the advice to try to get to Southampton the night before your cruise departs. But much depends on how easy or difficult that would be, compared to a shuttle the next morning. There's frequent train service between Gatwick and Southampton, taking about two hours, but it looks like you have to change trains along the way, which you might not want to cope with after a long flight. If the cruise line provides a shuttle straight from LGW to the ship on the morning of the cruise, that would seem the easiest way to go. It's about a 90-minute drive per rome2rio.com.

With due respect to Brighton and Portsmouth and other places, I agree that it would be risky to try to squeeze in some third-city sightseeing before the ship sails. If you find yourself with time to kill in Southampton, there are things to do there.

FYI other posters, the OP wants to be at the ship by 15:00 the day after landing, and the airport is Gatwick. What the OP doesn't discuss is whether the flight is overnight from North America or shorter from elsewhere, i.e. whether jet lag is an issue.

Posted by
4408 posts

Go straight to Southampton. It's not the most interesting city in the world but there's still stuff to see and do to kill a bit of time and there's no logistical issues to worry about once you're there. Travel to Southampton by train, National Express coach or private taxi.

Posted by
980 posts

If you decide to overnight near Gatwick we had an enjoyable experience staying at the delightful Copthorne Hotel several years ago.

Posted by
3789 posts

If you don't know Southampton, do you esny to arrive after dark? If you are arranging a door to door shuttle, then it matters less, but if considering National Express bus, it may be more new logistics than you care to take on...depending on travel fatigue.
There are 2 port terminals in Southampton depending on what cruise line...or at least there were in Dec 2018.
There is no bad choice, but I would prefer to stay near the airport so I wasn't concerned about trying to catch transport with possibly delayed flights.

Posted by
3222 posts

I don’t think jet lag will be an issue. Transatlantic flights don’t arrive at 5 pm, since the departure time would have to be hideous.

Posted by
31 posts

Hi all. Thank you for the good advice. Depending on the schedule we will be taking the train to Southampton (if direct - will evaluate as we get closer) otherwise it will be a shared shuttle.

We will already be in Europe for 10 days and will be flying to LGW from Riga (a short 3 hour hop).

We will probably be a little tired after running around Istanbul and Riga, so really all we want is a place to grab a light dinner and sleep.

Sounds like we should head straight on to Southampton, and I won’t disagree with a lazy morning to sleep in before boarding the ship. :-)

Thank you all for your help. If anyone has suggestions on where to stay in Southampton that is comfortable and near dining I would be most appreciative. We don’t mind taking a taxi to the ship the following morning so proximity to the port is not that important to us.

Thanks again!

Posted by
6740 posts

Last year we flew to Gatwick, arriving late at night so stayed there. Hotel choices are dismal.
We love Sofitel’s but the one there was dated, poor service, etc. For that reason alone, head to Southampton!
Curious, when will this cruise be sailing? Hopefully, not until after passengers are vaccinated.

Posted by
2258 posts

As always, the more information you provide the better advice you will get. But in that case it sounds like heading straight to Southampton is a good idea. There are normally direct trains from Gatwick to Southampton, but don't disregard the coach, my experience with coaches in the UK is that they are usually pretty comfortable (and I usually don't like coach travel).

Posted by
31 posts

Thank you all again. This cruise sails (tentatively) in early September (Crystal). We have cancelled several since the pandemic began, and are very hopeful we will be vaccinated and this is mostly sorted out by then, but everything I've purchased so far (airfare on miles, hotels with cash, etc.) is fully refundable up to about 30 days out, and the cruise is refundable up to 60 days out, or I can just get credit which is fine because we DO plan to cruise again. :)

As for the coach vs. train we are almost leaning toward the coach as the luggage situation on commuter trains can be a pain. I'm thinking LGW --> SOU won't be very busy at 18:00, but I don't know. We won't have a ton of baggage, but we do have to carry some formal wear so it's more than our usual two (American-sized) carry-ons (checked in Europe) and medium-sized backpack.

Posted by
4408 posts

The National Express will take on average around 5 1/2 hours, involves a change and the cost for two passengers will be around £47. A private taxi, booked ahead, should cost around £80 and take about an hour dependant on traffic. With a taxi you'll not have to worry about fitting in your luggage although best to speak to the taxi firm beforehand depending on just how much you have, it'll be faster and you'll arrive at your exact destination. Don't confuse this with a taxi picked up at the rank at the airport, your fare will be prohibitive!

Posted by
26010 posts

I'm thinking LGW --> SOU won't be very busy at 18:00, but I don't know.

I think I missed what day of the week, and which month. It will make a difference.

1800 is the height of the rush hour, Monday to Friday, and trains will have left London teeming with passengers. By the time they reach Gatwick they will have lost some of the human tide but certainly won't be empty. You'd be surprised by the number of long distance commuters who travel in and out of London every day.

If you are on the 18:09 from Gatwick, that train has left London Victoria at 17:35 with commuters hanging out the windows. It will have called at Clapham Junction and East Croydon. After Gatwick the train will still have plenty of folks for Three Bridges and Horsham, and to a lesser degree Crawley, as well as the long distance boys and girls.

If it is late July or during August things will be a bit different...

Posted by
31 posts

This will be on a Saturday in early September so I don't think commuters should be much of a problem...?

Thank you again.

Posted by
26010 posts

Saturday will have fewer business commuters, September is back to full bore after August holidays finish and kiddoes are back in school. But around 6pm you will get footie rowdies post match. And Saturday workers and shoppers heading home for tea.

Saturday is all off-peak tickets but my experience over quite a few years working trains on Saturday evenings - albeit on a different line but with similar flows - is that Saturday evenings can be quite "lively".

Posted by
305 posts

When we could still travel, I used to do this journey at least a couple of times a year.

To me, the train is quickest and easiest (and if booked far enough in advance, cheapest). Just under 2 hours from the airport to Southampton central. If your plane arrives on time, and you get through immigration quickly, you'd be able to get the direct 18:09 and be in Southampton just after 8pm.

I'm normally a fan of National Express, but you'd need to change at Heathrow and your minimum travel time would be around 2h30, and likely much longer. If you can find a taxi for £80ish, that would be the most stress free, but the last couple of times I've enquired, I been quoted around £100.

Your problem the next day, depending on boarding time , is what to do with luggage. If you had a few hours to sightsee, I'd head to Winchester (25 min by train)

Posted by
31 posts

Excellent advice - thank you! I was looking at timetables and was also thinking we could make the 18:09 direct train. The worst case we'd have to wait for the 19:09. We are fairly adept at navigating trains in Europe so that should not be a problem.

We are able to board at 12:00 or 13:00 (can't remember) but we will leave our bags in the morning at the hotel and perhaps explore for a few hours before boarding closer to 15:00. Being a transatlantic cruise, we're going to have plenty of time on the ship. :)

I took a look at Winchester and that seems completely manageable for a few hours/lunch so we will probably head there.

Thank you again!