We are sailing on the QM2 December 12 from S'hampton. Our plan at present is to leave Paris on the earliest Eurostar December 12, have a driver pick us up at St. Pancras and deposit us at the dock in S'hampton in time for the 4:00 pm departure. I am starting to have serious reservations about this plan because the weather in the UK may turn wintry and the driving may be difficult Would the experts' advice be to spend the night before departure in S'hampton?
No. Stay in Portsmouth so you can go to he Royal Marine Museum. :)
I just consulted with a British friend and she says wintry road conditions in early December are extremely rare so I guess we'll go with Plan A. No museum in Portsmouth this time, Ed.
Is there any particular reason you need to hire a private driver? There is frequent train service from Waterloo to Southampton. You can take the Tube (Northern Line) directly from St Pancras to Waterloo. Or if you have a lot of luggage you can take a taxi.
I agree with Tim. I think you'd be far less vulnerable to any adverse weather conditions on the train. There is a free shuttle bus service from Southampton railway station to the docks, it runs ever 15 minutes or so. It leaves from right outside the door. Or a taxi shouldn't cost much as it's not that far.
Since you won't go to the damn museum, a couple of recent anecdotal observations: Two years ago, November: snow, sleet, freezing rain from Snowdonia to just short of London, picking up again after Dunkerque and continuing to south of Limoges. Last year, October: busting ice off the decks and rudder trunions in the Midlands so we could get the boat moving in the morning. Where in the heck is Nigel???
Norma, another option is to arrive in S'Hampton the evening before the ship departs - my wife and I did that in May. Since you're gaining an hour as you train from Paris to London, you could easily leave Paris mid-afternoon, arriving in London with more than enough time for a train to S'Hampton - you'd be in town before dinner. We stayed at the White Horse Tavern. You can tour the town in the morning before you taxi to the ship mid-afternoon of departure. Less stress and you get a short tour of S'Hampton.
Tim (Minn.) We are three travellers with luggage and the price of 3 train fares and taxis and tube fares is not all that less than the quote I got from our favourite driver, who will meet us at St. Pancras, handle our bags and deposit us at the ship. Thank you to all for the suggestions.
You rang, Ed? I remember that frozen week last year, well. You're not wrong. But, nothing the weather can throw at the UK is even in the same ballpark as Montreal. And Norma is used to Montreal winters. Anything in the UK will be a walk in the park. I lived in Montreal for 3 years, my parents and grandparents for more than that. I can remember walking one day to Dorval airport. It was between 30 and 40 below. I was dressed for the weather, complete with snorkel (an extension on a parka which gives a few more inches of face protection) yet quite clearly remember the pain of my eye freezing open. Not something I want to repeat. That said, Montreal can cope with bad winter weather. If the weather is really bad in England, we really don't cope well with it, either on the roads or (to a degree) on the trains. We are, after all, the country which first came up with "the wrong sort of snow". But if Norma has a favourite driver who she trusts, why shouldn't she do that? After all, its only been the last few years we have had really bad weather in the winters. I'd be more worried about a mid December trans Atlantic boat trip. Been there, done that (several times), got the T-shirt.
Nigel: About the trans-Atlantic crossing in December ... that's why it's cheap! Any ideas on seasickness remedies?
Since you have a favorite driver, go for it! However, FYI Megatrain fares booked in advance for London-Southampton can be as low as £1.00.
Yes, go a day early! It's a good practice; you'll be much more relaxed than worrying about bad weather, strikes, broken trains, clogged chunnels...etc. it was late Nov/early Dec. /of just last year that the Arctic winds blew across Europe and wreaked havoc.
Have a good time!
Seasickness - in the almost exactly 50 years since I last sailed across the pond I understand that all sorts of devices have been added to the biggest ships to make the journey much smoother. I can remember how the older ships then compared with the (then) newer ones. All the newer ones had stabilizers and bow thrusters. The effects of those were to speed up the trip but I'm not convinced that they made it terrifically smoother. I think the new ships like QM2 can make it much better. We usually did Southampton - NY,NY in just about 5 days on Cunard boats and others, except the SS United States always tried for 4 and a half or less. The Irish Sea and North Atlantic can be good fun when the wind gets up. I've previously written here of a December westbound trip on the SS United States when the Captain insisted on keeping the pedal down in a force 10. Now that the boats are run more like cruises I am sure they wouldn't do the same thing. How long is your crossing? I've heard that dramamine helps, I would be surprised if Sea Bands do anything really. My advice is fresh air, stay amidships in heavy weather and don't go too low. Allow yourself to become distracted, and keep a normal schedule. Happy sailing...