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CruiseDirection - Magazine Sep 2019

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Southampton is the largest city in the county of Hampshire, on England’s Southern coastline. The city has a rich boating heritage and is one of the major ports connecting Britain to the rest of Europe. It is here where the RMS Titanic originally departed from and today, some of the largest cruise liners leave from Southampton to travel all over the world.  

Southampton is a city steeped in history, as can be seen from its wide array of architecture. It was originally a trading port for the Romans who settled here in approximately AD 43 and was a vital gateway to France and the rest of Continental Europe after the Norman Conquest of 1066.

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Why visit Southampton ?

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A rich boating heritage

One of the major ports connecting Britain to the rest of Europe

One of the most notable buildings dating from this period is Southampton Castle, which is right in the centre of the city. The castle’s four towers are still standing to this day, although they have seen many changes during the periods that followed. What was originally the main entry point into the town, the Bargate, has still retained its original architecture and is one of the most popular tourist attractions in the city. The Bargate is part of the town’s old medieval walls, half of which still outline the original town centre. Some sections of the walls can still be walked, and are clearly signposted.  

Southampton became such a popular port, as it is a natural harbour with double tides, making it particularly suited for the large ships that sail in and out of the port. The city’s maritime history can be discovered at the Maritime Museum, about two miles from the city centre. One of its main attractions is the Titanic exhibit, which documents the story of the fated vessel through original artefacts and accounts from people who worked on its construction and who were affected by the disaster.  

There is a wide range of accommodation available throughout the city. Major hotel names such as Holiday Inn, Ibis, Jury’s Inn, and Novotel have locations in the city centre. There are also many choices when it comes to bed and breakfasts and hostels, as well as caravan and camping sites in the surrounding areas.  

Being the major city for the South Coast, Southampton attracts many people for its full and vibrant nightlife and is also the centre for theatre in the South. The most famous venue is the Mayflower Theatre, which first opened in 1928. It has recently undergone a complete refurbishment and is the most prestigious port-of-call for major stage shows travelling across the UK. When it comes to dining out, there are many fine restaurants serving international cuisine in the city centre, and being a seafaring town, there are plenty of seafood establishments on offer.  

Travelling to and from Southampton is very convenient as not only does it have the port serving passenger ferries from around Europe, but there is also Southampton Airport, which provides flights to other European destinations (such as Dublin and Paris) and across the UK. The airport is roughly 3 and a half miles from the city centre and is served with a railway connection to Southampton as well as major train stations in London. Bus services also operate between the airport terminal and the city centre, with an approximate journey time of thirty minutes.

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