I am taking the Med cruise on the QE II next May 2006. How far away is the port from Heathrow. What is the best way to get there? Can anyone recommend a nice place to stay in Southhampton if we arrive early? Thanks.
Heathrow to the Port of Southampton is not that easy. To go by train you would need go in to London, across London and then out to Southampton. National Express (http://www.nationalexpress.com/) operate a direct (but not non-stop) coach service to Southampton. They have luggage limits and it is not everybody’s idea of fun. Both the train station and coach station are a few miles from the port so you would also need a taxi. Many people use a Cunard transfer or car service from Heathrow to Southampton.
The only place I have stayed in Southampton is the De Vere Grand Harbour (http://www.deveregrandharbour.co.uk/). It is near the port and is what you would expect from a five star hotel.
According to Cunard the distance from Hearthrow to Port of Southampton is 67 miles / 107 kilometeres.
Cunard's transportation is most convenient if you arrive on the day of sailing.
I also used the National express bus once and stayed in Southampton for a couple of days. The bus was perfect, comfortable, took just 1:15 h and traveled non-stop. The taxi from the bus station (there is a booth where you get a number and a taxi will be called for you) to my hotel was maybe five pounds. I stayed at the Star hotel right on High Street. This hotel is simple but quite charming as it is an old coaching inn. The location is perfect if you want to do sightseeing in the old city center.
I say take the coach : direct, quick (1h30) and cheap, about £18 return (but you will probably get it for £12 if you look out for special offers). I have never had trouble with luggage but I always limit myself to a single case that I can handle without help. See http://www.nationalexpress.com for deals.
When you get to Southampton catch a taxi from the bus station to the ship, costs about £6.00 each way.
The Cunard transfers cost £40 each way and I have heard varying reports (should be perfect for that price!). This is over twice the cost of above.
Going by train is more expensive and more bother.
The other idea is to use a private car / limo service if you have a large party to make it worth while. I don't have any specifics on this for you.