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Windsor Castle--on way to Southampton or after cruise?


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Windsor Castle is a must-see for us, but I'm trying to figure out logistics.  Our cruise leaves on May 28th.  We will be flying in to London (Heathrow) on May 24, arriving the morning of May 25th.  I see that Windsor is closer to Heathrow than to London.  I haven't gotten our air yet.  So my choices are: 

(1) Arrange for private transfer from Heathrow to Windsor Monday am, then take us to our London hotel. Yes, it's going out of our way and opposite direction but is closer to Windsor from Heathrow.  But changing of the guard may not occur on Mondays.

(2) Stay in Heathrow Monday night; drop bags off at hotel; see Windsor Castle Monday then use day to rest (stupid, right? We can sleep when we get home).  Benefit is that we are closer to Windsor, can spend as much time as we like there, and explore the town; it's easier to get to Windsor from Heathrow. Again, though, changing of the guard may not occur on Mondays.

(3) Go directly to London from Heathrow, visit Windsor one of the days between Monday and Weds. (changing of the guard appears to be on Tuesdays and Thursdays so it would probably be on Tuesday since we have to embark on the cruise on Thursday).

(4) Do one of those tours where they pick you up in London on Thursday and take you to Windsor on the way to Southampton on Thursday (day of embarkation). This seems like the best option so far, but we'd really like to see the changing of the guard, and leaving from London to Windsor on a Southampton transfer I think would be dependent on when the transport leaves and would only give us limited time in Windsor.

(5) Arrange one of those transfers from Southampton to Heathrow via Windsor when we finish our cruise on Tuesday.  There are companies that do a stop at Windsor.  Some only give you limited time, and some include other places that we could take or leave, like Stonehenge, and I'm not sure if we would get there in time for changing of the guard.  Another possibility is to arrange a private transfer from the ship to the airport, and include a visit to Windsor, which would involve paying for the transfer to wait with our bags. We are returning on a Tuesday, which I think may be a changing of the guard day. If we do this option, I would book a later return flight on Tuesday to allow us enough time, or maybe we could stay overnight at a Heathrow airport?

 

Your thoughts? Basically asking should we do Windsor the day we arrive at Heathrow, which may mean not seeing the changing of the guard, and then go on to London from Windsor; should we go to London and do Windsor on one of our London days, even though it's out of the way; should we do Windsor on the way to Southampton via a transfer that includes Windsor; or should we do Windsor on the way home from Southampton to Heathrow? 

 

Thanks!

 

 

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(1)

With an early flight you should be in Windsor in time for Changing of the Guard. Allow about 90 minutes for airport formalities & about 30 minutes for the drive to Windsor. Yes, it's a fairly expensive option because you'd need the car for your luggage - I'm not aware of any left-luggage facilities in Windsor (the Castle only stores light day luggage like a back-pack).

There's the alternative of storing your luggage at the airport (all terminals have facilities) & collecting it on the way from Windsor to your central London hotel, but that may not be cheaper. 

Can I suggest you e-mail for advice on which of those options they recommend & for a quote.

https://www.blackberrycars.com/ 

and a couple of  Windsor-based transfer operators like

 https://www.windsortaxis.co.uk

https://www.royalwindsortaxis.co.uk

https://www.windsorcars.com

 

You have further options of taxi back to Heathrow to collect your luggage then

- taking the Heathrow Express into London (book a hotel in the Paddington area and buy your Heathrow Express tickets literally months in advance to get bargain fares)  https://www.heathrowexpress.com/

- taking the tube into central London (cheap at about £7 but can be a pain with luggage

 

Or a car transfer to Windsor, keep luggage in the car, then get driver to drop you at Windsor station (Eton & Windsor Riverside Station) & take the direct train to London Waterloo. Journey time about an hour, fare about £10, buy at the station. Book a hotel in the Waterloo area. London Waterloo is also the station for trains to Southampton. http://ojp.nationalrail.co.uk/

 

(2)

Is a cheaper option,  but you're more likely to miss Changing of the Guard and you'd have to check with the hotel that you can drop  your luggage in the morning & register when you get back from Windsor.

 

A further option is a hotel in Windsor. Windsor town hotels are significantly more expensive than airport hotels but much more convenient. And cheap & frequent trains to London Waterloo (see above).

 

(3) 

Is simple, and cheap by train from London Waterloo (see above, and return tickets cost only a couple of pounds more than one-way tickets). Of course you lose a sightseeing day in London - but would you feel much like sightseeing on tuesday after an overnight flight followed by a day in Windsor :classic_huh:

 

(4)

I'm not aware of any tours which go from London to Southampton via Windsor, only via Stonehenge. So you'd need to do that by private transfer, which would be very expensive. Best reputable quote would probably come from http://www.smithsairportcars.co.uk who are based near Southampton & frequently recommended on Cruise Critic

 

(5)

But for post-cruise International Friends have several cruise tour transfers from Southampton to Heathrow (evening flights) or London hotels. One stops at Salisbury cathedral, Stonehenge and Windsor, another stops at Bath and Windsor. Their tickets marginally cheaper via 

https://www.londontoolkit.com/travel/southampton_cruise_shuttles.htm

Both include 2 hours at Windsor. Two hours is pretty limited, and bear in mind that if there's a delay  earlier in the day it will eat into those two hours. But it' avoids cutting down your time in London.

(other pages on the London Toolkit website has a wealth of logistical info about London - and Windsor and Southampton) 

 

(6)

The previous poster's suggestion (Windsor hotel on the 27th) has its merits.

Depending on your latest registration time in Southampton (usually around 3pm to 3.30pm) you'd need to depart Windsor around 1pm - 1.30 pm. The castle opens at 9.45 am, so you'd have about 3 hours.

Central London hotel in the Waterloo area, then train from Waterloo station to Windsor on 27th (depending on how you get on in central London you could travel to Windsor on the morning of 27th for more time in Windsor ,or in the evening for more time in London). Pre-booked transfer on 28th from your Windsor hotel  (or from central Windsor & via your hotel to collect luggage) to the cruise terminal - any of the operators quoted above.

 

I seem to have successfully narrowed your 5 choices down to 12 :classic_rolleyes:

 

Brew a large pot of coffee & re-read slowly.

Then figure the  approx costs of each option.

Then brew another pot

Then figure the other pros & cons.

Then brew another pot - or open a bottle of something stronger.

 

JB :classic_smile:

 

 

 

 

 

 

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20 hours ago, John Bull said:

 

(1)

With an early flight you should be in Windsor in time for Changing of the Guard. Allow about 90 minutes for airport formalities & about 30 minutes for the drive to Windsor. Yes, it's a fairly expensive option because you'd need the car for your luggage - I'm not aware of any left-luggage facilities in Windsor (the Castle only stores light day luggage like a back-pack).

There's the alternative of storing your luggage at the airport (all terminals have facilities) & collecting it on the way from Windsor to your central London hotel, but that may not be cheaper. 

Can I suggest you e-mail for advice on which of those options they recommend & for a quote.

https://www.blackberrycars.com/ 

and a couple of  Windsor-based transfer operators like

 https://www.windsortaxis.co.uk

https://www.royalwindsortaxis.co.uk

https://www.windsorcars.com

 

You have further options of taxi back to Heathrow to collect your luggage then

- taking the Heathrow Express into London (book a hotel in the Paddington area and buy your Heathrow Express tickets literally months in advance to get bargain fares)  https://www.heathrowexpress.com/

- taking the tube into central London (cheap at about £7 but can be a pain with luggage

 

Or a car transfer to Windsor, keep luggage in the car, then get driver to drop you at Windsor station (Eton & Windsor Riverside Station) & take the direct train to London Waterloo. Journey time about an hour, fare about £10, buy at the station. Book a hotel in the Waterloo area. London Waterloo is also the station for trains to Southampton. http://ojp.nationalrail.co.uk/

 

(2)

Is a cheaper option,  but you're more likely to miss Changing of the Guard and you'd have to check with the hotel that you can drop  your luggage in the morning & register when you get back from Windsor.

 

A further option is a hotel in Windsor. Windsor town hotels are significantly more expensive than airport hotels but much more convenient. And cheap & frequent trains to London Waterloo (see above).

 

(3) 

Is simple, and cheap by train from London Waterloo (see above, and return tickets cost only a couple of pounds more than one-way tickets). Of course you lose a sightseeing day in London - but would you feel much like sightseeing on tuesday after an overnight flight followed by a day in Windsor :classic_huh:

 

(4)

I'm not aware of any tours which go from London to Southampton via Windsor, only via Stonehenge. So you'd need to do that by private transfer, which would be very expensive. Best reputable quote would probably come from http://www.smithsairportcars.co.uk who are based near Southampton & frequently recommended on Cruise Critic

 

(5)

But for post-cruise International Friends have several cruise tour transfers from Southampton to Heathrow (evening flights) or London hotels. One stops at Salisbury cathedral, Stonehenge and Windsor, another stops at Bath and Windsor. Their tickets marginally cheaper via 

https://www.londontoolkit.com/travel/southampton_cruise_shuttles.htm

Both include 2 hours at Windsor. Two hours is pretty limited, and bear in mind that if there's a delay  earlier in the day it will eat into those two hours. But it' avoids cutting down your time in London.

(other pages on the London Toolkit website has a wealth of logistical info about London - and Windsor and Southampton) 

 

(6)

The previous poster's suggestion (Windsor hotel on the 27th) has its merits.

Depending on your latest registration time in Southampton (usually around 3pm to 3.30pm) you'd need to depart Windsor around 1pm - 1.30 pm. The castle opens at 9.45 am, so you'd have about 3 hours.

Central London hotel in the Waterloo area, then train from Waterloo station to Windsor on 27th (depending on how you get on in central London you could travel to Windsor on the morning of 27th for more time in Windsor ,or in the evening for more time in London). Pre-booked transfer on 28th from your Windsor hotel  (or from central Windsor & via your hotel to collect luggage) to the cruise terminal - any of the operators quoted above.

 

I seem to have successfully narrowed your 5 choices down to 12 :classic_rolleyes:

 

Brew a large pot of coffee & re-read slowly.

Then figure the  approx costs of each option.

Then brew another pot

Then figure the other pros & cons.

Then brew another pot - or open a bottle of something stronger.

 

JB :classic_smile:

 

 

 

 

 

 

🤪 Thanks! That's very comprehensive! There are actually some companies that will take you to Windsor on the way from London to Southampton, one option is a group that picks up in central London then to Heathrow then to Windsor and the other as you mentioned is a private transfer, if I can get another couple from the roll call to come, that may be an option.

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18 minutes ago, cruisegal415 said:

🤪 Thanks! That's very comprehensive! There are actually some companies that will take you to Windsor on the way from London to Southampton, one option is a group that picks up in central London then to Heathrow then to Windsor and the other as you mentioned is a private transfer, if I can get another couple from the roll call to come, that may be an option.

 

 If that's the ones advertised on London Toolkit, do compare the prices against the other options cos they're effectively private transfers. Their International Friends coach tour-transfers are decent value, but the private offerings on their website tend to be over-priced. (well someone's got to pay for their website :classic_wink:)

 

But yes, if you can get a group together via your RollCall to share a van that would be viable. That would mean an early start from central London. Pick-ups en-route for folk who stayed at Heathrow hotels are easy, but I'd advise that you don't include folk who fly in that morning, because delays for flights or airport formalities can royally screw things up.

 

BTW you don't really need a guide, because private guides aren't permitted in Windsor Castle - you have the choice of audio-guides or hiring one of the castle's guides. But a customer-orientated and tolerably knowledgeable driver would add to the experience. 

 

JB :classic_smile:

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