Before you hit the high seas, why not spend some time in our home port of Southampton? Whether you’re after culture, nature or adventure, it’s the perfect place to switch into holiday mode.
You don’t have to travel far to see the world. With hundreds of round-trip sailings from Southampton, your holiday can start the moment you step on board. Nearly all our ships offer departures from Southampton to a range of destinations throughout the year, including Iona, who sails from our home port for all her 2020 itineraries.
With its rich maritime heritage and ambitions to become UK City of Culture in 2025, Southampton is a proud, dynamic and culturally vibrant city. Its past, present and future are brought alive through a wide cultural programme supported by arts festivals, art installations and pop-up events throughout the year. The city is also a hotspot for shopping and boasts a fantastic range of restaurants, cafés and bars to suit every mood, budget and lifestyle. And ideally located near the glorious Hampshire countryside, Southampton is a gateway to many natural attractions and outdoor activities.
We’ve picked five of our favourite experiences to enjoy all year round before you get on board.
Get cultural at God’s House Tower
Following a £3.1m, seven-year-long refurbishment, the Grade I-scheduled God’s House Tower (GHT) reopens this month as a unique arts and heritage centre. Housing a permanent exhibition on the history of the 700-year-old building, GHT will also be home to two new gallery spaces showcasing specially commissioned contemporary art and period works from prestigious South Coast collections. A full arts and heritage programme featuring exhibitions, events, workshops and talks is in development with high profile artists, writers, historians and performers. An in-house café with food and drinks from local providers, a community arts and heritage library and a gift shop will complete the offer.
Commune with nature in The New Forest
A short drive from Southampton is The New Forest National Park – a 566 km2 idyll of ancient woodland and wild heaths on which roam the famous wild ponies, cattle, donkey and deer. The park’s quaint villages, such as Lyndhurst and Brockenhurst, boast traditional cafés, cosy pubs and the freshest New Forest ice creams. Take it easy on a scenic drive, stride out on a walking trail or saddle up to explore by hired bike or on a pony trek – there are many ways to enjoy this magical landscape that suit your schedule.
Soak up history at SeaCity Museum
SeaCity Museum is the place to learn about Southampton’s distinguished port heritage. The museum tells the story of the city’s people through the ages, their captivating lives and historic connections with the sea. A major exhibit brings to life the drama of the Titanic’s infamous voyage – and reveals how it affected the lives of many of Southampton’s residents.
Get active at Woodmill Outdoor Activities Centre
If you want to burn off some beans before you get on board, there are plenty of ways to get active at Woodmill Outdoor Activities Centre. Anyone aged eight and over can enjoy a wide range of outdoor and sporting pursuits in the centre’s 17 acres of stunning woodland grounds, complete with a private lake. Choose from paddle sports such as canoeing, kayaking and stand-up paddle boarding or try your hand at climbing, archery and fencing – all with expert guidance and tuition. Trapezing, high and low rope courses, cratestack and pond dipping are alternative attractions.
Make a day of it at WestQuay
If you need to pick up some extra holiday supplies or outfits, WestQuay is the place to go. In addition to high-street favourites (think John Lewis, M&S, Next, Zara), it offers a wealth of big-brand fashion, health, beauty, lifestyle and technology retailers. Refuel for coffee and cake or lunch at one of the centre’s many eateries and cafés. And when your shopping’s done, why not check in for some family fun at Hollywood Bowl or try an unforgettable escape-room experience at Locked in a Room?
When the time comes to join your ship, the process is quick and easy. We aim to get you from kerb to cabin as quickly as possible so you can start your holiday from the get-go. When sailing on a round-trip from Southampton, there are no luggage restrictions (other than your baggage fitting comfortably in your cabin). Simply check in your luggage at the cruise terminal and let us deliver it directly to your cabin – leaving you to relax into your holiday as soon as you step on board.