Frequently Asked Questions
Where will I go on a Southampton cruise?
This depends on your itinerary. Southampton is a port that serves London, which is the gateway to a multitude of destinations, including Northern Europe, the Baltic, British Isles, Norway, the Canary Islands and the Mediterranean. Some transatlantic and world cruises begin in Southampton as well. You may visit major European cities, such as Stockholm, St. Petersburg, Copenhagen, Dublin, Amsterdam, Lisbon, Barcelona and Rome, and many more.
How long does it take to get there?
To get to Southampton you must fly into London, which is a 7-hour flight from New York City.
When is the best time to take a Southampton cruise?
The high season stretches from April to October, but cruises are available here year-round. Visitors can avoid summer's surging tourist crowds by traveling during the "shoulder seasons" in spring (April and May) or fall (September and October). Temperatures are still comfortable in many places during these months -- particularly in the Mediterranean and the Canary Islands -- and there's less competition for the top historic sites. And visitors who don't mind chilly temperatures and rain might enjoy a winter cruise when prices are lower and London is less crowded with tourists.
Will I need a passport or visa?
Passports are required for all international visitors. Visa rules vary by country.
What is the time difference?
London is five hours ahead of Eastern Standard Time.
What is the local currency? Where can I exchange currency?
The main currency is the British Pound. Currency exchange stations are available at most local hotels and airports, though many tourist destinations accept credit cards.
Is tipping a common practice?
Most restaurants add a 10% to 15% service charge to your bill. If the charge wasn’t added, be sure to leave a 10% to 15% tip. Feel free to tip extra if service was good.
What should I wear?
Casual resort wear, including shorts and T-shirts, is the standard daytime attire for most cruises. Bring a variety of footwear, including low-heeled or rubber-soled shoes for walking on deck, sandals for beach excursions, sturdy walking shoes for guided tours and a pair of dressier shoes for formal dining. You can check your ship's dress codes for options suitable for nighttime, but most restaurants encourage slacks and nice dresses during evening meals.
Many churches and cathedrals in Europe require some degree of modest attire for visitors. You may not be permitted to enter if wearing "too short" shorts, and women may be asked to cover bare shoulders (it's a good idea to tuck a lightweight scarf into your purse or tote).
Is the water safe to drink?
Most resorts and restaurants filter their tap water, though bottled water is available almost everywhere.
What sort of medical precautions do I need to take?
Shots aren't usually necessary for visitors from North America, but it never hurts to check with your health care provider and discuss the countries you'll be visiting.
What types of electrical outlets are used?
U.S. cruise companies use the standard 110-volt outlets. International guests will likely need converters and adapters; these same devices come in handy for U.S. citizens who plan to overnight in hotels at some point during their vacation, as much of Europe and Asia uses the 220-volt outlet.
How do I make a telephone call from London?
Resort hotels and public phone booths offer direct dialing for international calls. Calling cards also are available for sale in tourist-friendly markets. U.S.-based cell phones might not work everywhere.
Are hotel rooms outfitted with air conditioners?
Surprisingly, London hotels, even luxury ones, do not always have air conditioning. Many have partial air-conditioning, but most have none at all. If recycled air is important to you, make sure to consult your travel counselor before booking a pre- or post-cruise hotel stay.
What is the shopping like? Can I haggle over prices?
London is a shopper’s paradise, although items can be pricey. You’ll find stores ranging from upscale department stores and trendy boutiques to outlet malls and flea markets. Be aware that a value-added tax (VAT) of 17.5% is added on most goods, but it’s usually included in the price. You may want to ask before haggling over price, and non-E.U. residents can receive at least a partial refund of the tax by applying for a VAT refund. There is a £50 minimum purchase required for a refund.
How do I get around?
London has an excellent transportation system to help tourists get around. Tourists will feel comfortable traveling by bus, taxi or the London Underground. Shore excursions purchased through your cruise line highlight top attractions and include transportation and a guide.
Can I rent a car?
Rental rules vary by country, but most companies require renters to be at least 21 years old. However, the proliferation of public buses, trains and ferries make car rentals largely unnecessary in this region.
What can I do there?
London is a grand city with a wealth of attractions. City tours may include stops at the Big Ben, Parliament, Westminster Abbey, Hyde Park, Piccadilly Circus, Trafalgar Square and Buckingham Palace. St. Paul’s Cathedral and the Tower of London, home to the Crown Jewels, are also worthwhile attractions to see while visiting. A leisurely lunch at a traditional English pub may be on the menu, or take the scenic ride out of town to the famous prehistoric monument of Stonehenge.
Do you have any photography tips for travelers?
There's plenty of historic beauty to capture, so be sure to bring plenty of gear. Users of "point-and-shoot" digital cameras should pack rechargeable batteries, a charger, electric adaptors and high-capacity memory cards. If you're bringing a digital video camera, don't forget the long-life batteries, charger, adaptors and converter. Make sure photography is permitted before shooting in museums, churches and cathedrals; in some cases, you'll just be asked to turn off your flash.