- WHERE TO STAY
- PUBLIC TRANSPORT
- CRUISE PORTS
The distance between Southampton and the centre of London is around 80 miles (130km). The fast direct trains between London's Waterloo Station and Southampton have a journey time of around 1 hour 20 minutes.
The London Waterloo train is the fastest and most frequent to Southampton. However there is also an alternative direct train service from London's Victoria Station to Southampton. This takes a slower route via Gatwick Airport and takes around an hour longer.
The train journey time between London's Gatwick Airport and Southampton is around 2 hours. There is no direct train service from London's Heathrow Airport to Southampton, but there is a Heathrow - Southampton coach service.
The direct London to Southampton train routes are depicted on the graphic above. These depart from two of London's train stations, Waterloo and Victoria.
Travelling direct between Southampton and London the Waterloo to Southampton train is much faster and more frequent than the train from Victoria. Waterloo trains do the journey in around 1 hour 20 minutes and run at least hourly. The two train lines interconnect at Clapham Junction where you can switch if you want.
The only reason to use the Victoria train is if you are flying into Gatwick Airport which the Victoria train stops at. The Victoria train runs broadly hourly and is not direct on Sundays.
There is no train direct from London's main airport, Heathrow Airport. There is a RailAir coach that shuttles between Heathrow and Woking Station, a stop on the Waterloo train. However the direct coach service between Heathrow and Southampton is faster and cheaper than this option.
London's Waterloo and Victoria Stations are very large railway stations each handling millions of passengers each year from around twenty separate platforms. Both are terminus stations. the end of the line. As a result you train will be standing ready to board for about 15 minutes prior to departure. Waterloo is physically open 24x7 and Victoria for is closed just a few short hours in the very early morning.
Because of the footfall there is a wide range of fast food, pubs, convenience stores and restaurants at each. Toilets, left luggage, foreign exchange, tourist offices, ATM's and fee wifi are available.
Both Victoria and Waterloo are hubs for the London Underground served by several lines radiating out in all directions. Victoria is a major hotel district for London, we have a dedicated page for hotels near Victoria Station. There are hotels around Waterloo Station too, mostly large chain hotels like Marriott, Park Plaza and Premier Inn. We have a dedicated page for hotels near Waterloo Station too.
Southampton Central Station is a much quieter station with four platforms and more basic facilities. There are toilets, a station buffet and ATM's but no left luggage, foreign exchange, wifi or a tourist office.
The railway and coach stations at Southampton are within 400 yards of each other in the city centre. There are no shuttles or public transport to any of Southampton's four cruise terminals. A local taxi cab is required for the cruise terminal transfer. The cost will vary depending on cruise terminal, one way budget around £10.
Both railway and coach stations are in the heart of Southampton city centre, there is a good choice of hotels close to both, a few within 5 minutes walk. All the main hotels are identified and compared including their relative locations on our Southampton map.
Trains between London and Southampton are commuter train style designed to cope with the large volumes of people on the daily commute into London. There are no luggage cars and most people will just be travelling with just a handbag or small bag.
You need to independently carry your luggage into the passenger cabin, seats are taken on a first come first serve basis. Trains at Waterloo and Victoria will be standing on the platform for about 10-15 minutes prior to departure, if you board at Gatwick or Southampton the train will have started several stations prior and have passengers already aboard. Whatever luggage you bring you must carry on-board yourself.
Luggage storage space is limited. There is headroom space above the seats, but this is for smaller bags not large cases. The allocated area for large luggage may be some distance from your seat making it difficult for you to keep an eye on it. Space permitting you may be able to store luggage around your seating area.
There are a handful of first class seats on each train between Southampton and London. There is very little difference between first class and second class except for the price, so very few people use first class however affluent they are. Those few travelling in first class tend to be those where someone else is paying, typically government employees travelling on business.
Train fares are a complex maze with a wide variety of prices. If you buy a ticket on the day just prior to departure the price can be eye wateringly expensive. But, there are a few basic rules you can follow to get the best deal for your needs.
The trains in the UK are operated by privately owned train companies closely regulated by a national licencing authority. Each train company will have its own promotional fares where fares are very volatile and other fares that are highly regulated where the train companies have little wiggle room and fares are relatively stable. The unregulated cheaper fares are commonly used to fill the trains at times where otherwise the train would be far from full. The licencing authority reviews fares annually and regulated fares are updated on January 2nd each year.
There are manned ticket offices at most stations and ticket machines at all. But the best fares are all too often only available in advance or on-line, and tickets pre-loaded on your mobile are very convenient.
All train companies have their own web sites where they sell their own tickets and those of every other train company in the UK. There are also lots of independent rail ticketing web sites that sell these tickets too. Unless there is a fare exclusive to the rail operators web site, the train fares themselves are the same wherever you buy the tickets. The web sites do differ in their ease of use and many have tools so that you can get the very best rail fare.
There are no seniors fares. Children under 5 travel free and those between 5 and 15 years can take advantage of childrens fares. You may be able to get family fares commonly called Groupsave fares and there aere often group fares for groups of 10 or more.
If you are travelling extensively by train in the UK you can buy an annual railcard. There are various railcards for different categories like seniors, families, couples etc but all for an annual fee give one-third off rail fares including the promotional fares. We have a dedicated UK railcards page.
Contractually the regulator sets the timetable at least 12 weeks in advance. Train operators will commonly release cheap advance tickets shortly after. It's not always dead on 12 weeks though, often more like 10 or 11. If you purchase rail tickets earlier than this they will be almost certainly the often more expensive regulaed fares.
There are return, round trip train fares which may give a discount but bizarely it can be cheaper often to buy two one-way tickets because of the availability of a promotional ticket on one-leg. It can even be cheaper to buy 2 separate split tickets one-way for a journey, buying two tickets, splitting the journey into two sections for fares but not leaving the train when you ride.
It's all very complicated, but in summary to get a good train fare deal, try if you can to travel outside the early morning and evening commute hours and try to research and buy your tickets within about 10-11 weeks of departure. For short train journeys of under an hour the potential ticket savings are much less than longer journeys. Do take time to understand the ticketing web-site, we use the Trainline web-site, the market leader which has several tools that help you locate your best train fare.
Nearly all stations have manned ticket offices, unlike the London Underground, and all have ticket machines. Ticket offices at the main stations are open all day from early morning to evening. However, queues for the manned ticket offices can be long and much of the time you will get a cheaper fare by buying well in advance.
E-tickets and mobile tickets are increasingly becoming available from many train operating companies. These include South Western, Southern, Thameslink, Chiltern, London North Western and London North Eastern operating services into London. The airport trains run by Heathrow Express, Gatwick Express and Thameslink are also supported.
Magnetic card tickets are the tradional tickets dispensed by ticket machines and ticket offices can be ordered in advance and collected at main railway stations. Stations where you can collect tickets include all of London's mainline terminus stations, Heathrow and Gatwick airports and Southampton and Dover port railway stations. When you purchase these tickets on-line you are given a unique code which you type into the dedicated ticket machines and they then dispense the tickets. Tickets are ready after 15 minutes of order.
Card payments (Visa, MasterCard, American Express, Diners Club, Maestro), PayPal and Apple Pay are payment options on-line.
Private transfers offer the most convenient and flexible option with a meet and greet door to door service, either at the cruise terminal or your Central London or Southampton hotel. There is the flexibility to include sightseeing, .
• Fastest most convenient transfer. Only option with immediate departure at a time of your choosing.
• Major sightseeing opportunities along the way. Stonehenge, Windsor Castle...
• Most expensive transfer for couples. For groups and families is price competitive
Shared shuttle transfers exclusive to cruise passengers and provides a convenient door to door service between Central London (and Heathrow Airport) and Southampton cruise terminals with a maximum of 4 pick-ups or drops.
• Small number of passengers (max 8) results in minimal drops or pick-ups
• Will pick-up or drop passengers at any hotel or AirBnb in Central London
• Guaranteed to run, no minimum passengers. Will run with only one person.
Tour and stopover transfers are a variation on the shuttle transfers, but sometimes in larger touring coaches and again exclusive for cruise passengers.
• Time efficient and economic world class sightseeing during your Southampton cruise transfer
• Also serves Heathrow Airport. Full days tours from Southampton, half day stopovers to Southampton
• Relatively small extra cost over shuttles offering great value.
National Express coaches run direct between London, Heathrow and Gatwick Airports and Southampton. The National Express coaches do not visit Southampton cruise terminals, just the coach station in Southampton city centre from where you get a cab to the ships.
• The only reason to use National Express coaches is it is the lowest cost option, (by far)
• Local cabs between Southampton coach station and cruise terminals.
• The slowest and most inconvenient transfer. Luggage allowance may well be less than your flight allowance
Pick-up times are provided before you make a booking.
For the transfer to Southampton relax in your Central London or Heathrow hotel reception with your luggage, ready to board when the vehicle arrives.
At Heathrow Airport we cannot pick up from passenger terminals due to parking restrictions. The Sofitel Heathrow Hotel and the Hilton Heathrow Terminal 4 are linked to terminals 5 and 4 respectively. If you are using passenger terminals 2 or 3 you will need to take a hotel bus called the Heathrow Hoppa to one of the supported hotels.
For the transfer from Southampton you will be greeted by a representative as you enter the public area of the cruise terminal. airline style and directed to your vehicle. At Heathrow vehicles will drop you off at both Heathrow hotels and passenger terminals.
Our cruise ship tour transfers are exclusive to cruise customers disembarking or boarding ships at Southampton cruise port. A great opportunity to include world class sightseeing on your journey to or from your cruise ship.
Choose between a Stonehenge pre-cruise transfer, stopping off at Stonehenge en route to Southampton, or a post cruise transfer visiting Windsor Castle from Southampton to London.
For the pre-cruise transfer you will be met at a centrally located London hotel in the early morning to visit Stonehenge and then arrive at your cruise ship around early afternoon.
For the post cruise transfer you are met at the cruise port and taken via Windsor Castle to a centrally located London hotel.
You will spend around 2 hours at your chosen sightseeing attraction, with entry included.
Also see our door to door service for straight transfers: Southampton direct cruise ship shuttle service. This service also drops at Heathrow passenger terminals.
Pre-cruise transfer stopping off at Stonehenge en route to Southampton. Entry to Stonehenge included.
Your driver will meet you at the terminal building exit from 08:00am and will accompany you to the coach. We plan to leave Southampton by 08:30am. There is a typical walk of about 75 yards to the vehicle where the driver will load your luggage into the hold. In the unlikely event your ship is delayed into port, we will delay our departure. Some transfer tours include Heathrow, others go directly to London after the tour. Do double check when booking your tour covers the drop-off you need.
Drops begin at Heathrow Airport (when applicable, hotels and passenger terminals) typically around 5:00pm and Central London hotels about one hour later.
We offer a comprehensive private transfer service to or from your Southampton cruise ship.
We have a wide range of vehicles of all sizes that cater from single travellers to large groups. All transfers are competitively priced with no hidden extras. Prices include all taxes, parking and London congestion charges.
At airports and Southampton cruise terminals the you will personally be met and greeted as you exit into the public area of the terminal. At airports our drivers track your incoming flight and will time their arrival based on actual landing time. No need to worry if your flight is early or late.
A host of world class attractions are accessible during Southampton transfer route and with a private transfer you have the freedom to stop and explore. Windsor Castle, Stonehenge and Salisbury Cathedral are just three heritage sites of many you could visit.
National Express, the UK's largest scheduled coach operator run very frequent coach services between London and Southampton. National Express run separate services to Southampton from Victoria Coach Station in Central London, Heathrow Airport and Gatwick Airport.
The National Express coaches are the cheapest and slowest transfer option between London and Southampton.
The coaches only stop at a few regional towns on the journey like Basingstoke or Winchester - no stops are made at hotels or Southampton cruise terminals.
At Southampton the coach station is in the heart of Southampton city centre. There are no shuttles or public transport between the cruise terminals and the coach station. From Southampton's four cruise terminals it is too far to walk with luggage.
We recommend you pre book your ticket on-line in advance. Departures, especially after a cruise ship has docked do get fully booked and when this happens a second bus is not provided. E-tickets are available sent directly to your e-mail in-box.
National Express offer a choice of ticket types. Cheapest fares are advance purchase on-line, some are exclusively on-line. Like many fare structures you pay more for flexibility to change schedules or cancel. Fares will vary according to demand and how far a ticket is booked in advance of their journey.
Tickets are not allocated a seat number, you select your seat on boarding on a first come first served basis. Subject to availability you can reserve the front seats of the coach for a supplement.
For more comprehensive information we have a designated National Express page for full details.