US cruisers embarking at Southampton should definitely plan to spend a day or two here before sailing. Reasons:
1. The usual "avoid the stress" rationale in case of any flight irregularities.
2. Get over the jet lag before the cruise.
3. You can really have a nice time "down South" in England.
1. National Express busses run regularly from both Heathrow and Gatwick to Southampton.
2. If you stay at the Ibis or Novotel you can literally walk to the hotel from the bus station or the train station.
3. The Ibis and the Novotel are co-owned by Accor and share a parking lot. The Ibis is about half the price of the Novotel, and is very nice. There is also a Europcar rental agency in the lobby, which is extremely convenient.
4. If driving on the left and driving a stick shift doesn't bother you, renting a car and driving around is a lot of fun. Worthwile destinations include Winchester and the New Forest, among many others. You can also catch ferries to the Isle of Wight.
5. Taxis to the pier from virtually any hotel in Southampton are roughly a 10 minute and 10 GBP proposition.