Stress free holidays begin in Southampton
By Daniel Weight
Published 26 July 2012 in Featured Articles
Holidays are of course great, but after months of excitement, when the day comes there always seems to be an anti-climax as the prospect of long airport queues and hours stuck on a plane looms. Why does something that’s supposed to help you unwind and relax begin and end so stressfully? Well, it doesn’t have to as not all holidays are created equal.
The fact that many cruises now begin and end in the UK is a sometimes overlooked, but hugely significant, benefit of holidaying at sea. These days most cruises depart from Britain’s main cruise hub, Southampton, which is great as the port has three dedicated cruise terminals to whisk you through check-in with no delays at all – I’m always amazed at how smoothly things work. You’ll arrive either by car or coach, and be met by porters who will take your luggage straight from you – the next time you see it will be inside your cabin. Not having to worry about hold weight limits (although each case must weigh no more than 20kg so that the porters can lift it safely), or dragging cases though a busy terminal is a real luxury.
You then simply stroll into the terminal where you’ll be given a lettered card, and when you letter is called you just go to check-in. Minutes later you’ll be making your way up the passenger bridge (no gangplanks in Southampton anymore I’m afraid) and on to your ship. From stepping out of your car or coach to stepping on board usually takes no more than 45 minutes. And that’s it – your holiday has just begun!
At least one of the restaurants will be open for a spot of lunch, as will the coffee shops and some of the bars. Plus you’ll probably be able to use the swimming pools and whirlpool spas straight away – although chances are you’ll be too busy exploring your ship to want to swim!
Just because you’re sailing from Southampton, your travelling options don’t need to be limited – in fact ships departing the UK travel to destinations all over the world. For shorter holidays you could choose the splendour of the Fjords and Baltic, or head south to the Canary Islands, Spain and Portugal – these holidays generally last seven to 14 nights and feature a number of ports of call and a few days at sea. You could also choose to sail around Britain – seeing our island from a totally different perspective.
Short-breaks are the perfect choice for taster cruises, particularly if you haven’t cruised before. These holidays last two or three days and visit mainland Europe – in the case of P&O Cruises usually Zeebrugge (giving you the chance to visit the Belgium cities of Ghent or Bruge), La Havre (from where you can take trips to Paris) or the Channel Islands.
If you have longer to spare, the world really is your oyster. You can sail round-trip to the Caribbean from Southampton – spending a week crossing the Atlantic, a week calling at Caribbean islands and another week returning back across the Caribbean. Or you travel deep into the Mediterranean, visiting Italy, Greece, Croatia, Turkey and even Egypt.
And, of course, all P&O Cruises World Cruises begin and end in Southampton – if you have three months to spare!
So, next time the thought of a busy airport terminal, slow security lines and a cramped plane journey fills you with pre-holiday dread, remember there is an alternative – and it’s waiting in Southampton.
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